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Here’s the simple truth: raising a family is hard. I'm in the middle of a family reunion/vacation and I'm surrounded by the extent of my wife's family. We've had laughs, we've had drama, and ultimately no matter what your family looks like, there’s no magic word that can solve every problem, no secret fix-all that can resolve drama as it rises.
For the most part we all have families and love them in our own unique ways, regardless of the conflicts that rise. Families are often portrayed very different in modern television: from the Starks in Game of Thrones to the Camdens in 7th Heaven, it's easy to see how every television family is unique. There’s a wide variety of families in the world as well as on television, and that’s kind of the point, but I thought it would be interesting to look back at some of the classic families that we’ve seen over the years, and what made them so great, so here are eight television families that still teach us what it means to have and be a family.
1. The Dick Van Dyke Show
Sometimes simple is okay
The Dick Van Dyke show is (and probably always will be) one of my all-time favorite shows and a great deal of its staying power can be thanks to the comedic presence of the great Dick Van Dyke and cast. But part of the show's appeal is in the relationship that happens between Van Dyke’s character and his wife, portrayed by Mary Tyler Moore. They were the epitome of love drunk, at least that generation's version of it.
2. Malcolm in the Middle
Probably one of the best-known, seemingly dysfunctional family, is the one that starred Frankie Muniz as the titular middle child, Malcolm. Now, even though the show was primarily focused on the ways that Malcolm interacted with the world around him, there was this overarching concept that regardless of the other siblings' actions: They were all loved for exactly who they were.
3. Home Improvement
Making time is necessary
Who can dispute the power of the Taylors when it comes to putting family life on display? Tim and Jill Taylor had three sons — each truly unique — and as they grew up they had to be raised differently. Tim and Jill had to effectively and proactively seek out each of their sons to build a solid relationship with them. Home Improvement really showcased how important it was to spend time with family in a purposeful and meaningful way.
4. Breaking Bad
Sometimes family is everything
Now, before you say that Breaking Bad wasn’t a classic television family, I’d like to point out that Walter’s actions were in fact guided by his desire to serve his family and prepare them for the time when he would no longer be with them. Yes, his actions were flawed, but from the beginning it was his family that was the most important. He chose to do whatever it took to take care of his family, and that’s honestly what has to happen sometimes: You do whatever it takes.
5. Full House
Adaptability is a necessity
This is a no-brainer when it comes to family television; the Tanners are a classic example of the idea that a person is raised by not only their immediate parents, but also the other people around them. Throughout their time on television, the Tanners faced a variety of dramatic occurrences, but through it all they remained steadfast to the belief that they were all family and that Danny (the father) wasn’t the only adult tasked with raising his children. He had Jesse and Joey and that was OK, because sometimes you have to adjust.
6. Arrested Development
Sometimes shit happens
Now I haven’t seen every episode, as I'm still getting through the seasons but what I do know about it is that the Bluths are a group that sticks together through thick and thin. When their father is imprisoned, the family tries to learn from past mistakes, but their materialistic lifestyle is hard to overcome when they go from riches to rags. Yet, regardless of their seemingly dysfunctional lifestyle, they stick together because ultimately they understand that family is important.
Family is the most important thing
Now I know that Supernatural isn’t really a show that screams "family," unless you are a Supernatural fan and have watched every episode of the show. Supernatural truly exemplifies the idea of family being uniquely important through the actions of the Winchester brothers, and even their absent father. Through countless seasons both Sam and Dean have gone to Hell and back (literally) to save each other from death and agony. The love that the two brothers share is something that every sibling wishes their family would portray.
8. Boy Meets World
Family is who you surround yourself withIf the Matthews family has taught us anything, it’s the idea that family is more than just your parents and siblings — or even your aunts, uncles and cousins. Just look at the relationship formed between Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter; two distinctly different boys who grow up together and are more than friends: They become family. A similar relationship is on display with Erik Matthews (Corey’s older brother) and Jack Hunter (Shawn’s older brother) and it just further solidifies the idea that family is more than just blood.
So there you have it, eight families that have defined a variety of concepts that are a part of nearly every "real-life" family.