The recent Roseanne revival on ABC garnered bigger audiences than anyone predicted, and reminded us of a universal truth: funny families make for great TV.
Family sitcoms have been a pillar of TV for decades with bumbling dads, witty kids, and no-nonsense moms winning over our hearts. Of course, these archetypes have developed over the years thanks to shows like Arrested Development and Modern Family, that depicted a more progressive representation of family dynamics.
If your love for family shenanigans was reignited by Roseanne, read on for the best offbeat family sitcoms of all time.
Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock
Married With Children is not another show about a successful family that constantly supports each other. In fact, the Bundys are completely dysfunctional – but in the funniest way possible.
The Bundy family is made up of Al, Peggy, Kelly, and Bud. Al (Ed O’Neill), the outspoken patriarch of the family, is a failed footballer turned shoe salesman. His wife, Peggy (Katey Sagal), is a housewife who refuses to do house work. And their kids, Kelly (Christina Applegate) and Bud (David Faustino), are two slackers that Al and Peggy regularly bicker about… or at.
Photo by Columbia Pictures/Embassy Pictures/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
Michael (Jason Bateman) is the only “normal” person in the ridiculous Bluth family. Arrested Development picks up when the family’s patriarch, George Bluth Sr (Jeffrey Tambor), is arrested for defrauding investors, and Michael is forced to take over the family business.
Arrested Development is consistently ranked as one of the best sitcoms ever, largely thanks to A+ performances from stars like Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, Michael Cera, and more.
Photo by 20th Century Fox Television/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
The Jeffersons are an African American family who “move on up” from living in working class Queens to a swanky new apartment in Manhattan.
The family is lead by George (Sherman Hemsley), whose newfound wealth gives him an overabundance of confidence that his wife, Louise (Isabel Sanford), constantly puts in check. This, combined with their bumbling navigation of newfound wealth, makes for a consistently hilarious, lovable series – even 40 years later.
Modern Family breaks the mold by giving us three families that make up one lovable, hilarious whole. Instead of being limited to a singular family perspective, we get a wonderful array of gay, straight, rich, working-class, young, and old characters. Together they create a family that always provides laughs, but also heartwarming commentary on family values.
Photo by Mario Perez/ABC-TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
Emmy-winning TV producer Greg Garcia (My Name Is Earl) introduced us to the Chance family 7 years ago when the family’s 23-year old son, Jimmy Chance, impregnates a serial-killer. But after she’s sentenced to death, the Chance family takes in the baby, and tries to do their best to raise her in their own wacky way.
Photo by Ray Mickshaw/20th Century Fox TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
Full House (recently rebooted as Fuller House) is another classic irreverent family sitcom.
Bob Saget stars as Danny Tanner, a recently widowed sportscaster with three young daughters. To help raise the rambunctious gals, he calls on his wild brother-in-law, Jesse (John Stamos), and his best friend, “Uncle” Joey (Dave Coulier). Together, the unlikely trio raise the girls and give viewers a hefty serving of laughs and heartfelt moments.
Photo by Lorimar/Warner Bros/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
Most TV shows with substantial social commentary leave it to the adults to handle that type of discourse. Diff’rent Strokes took a different route, and gave us a sitcom from the perspective of two African American boys who are adopted by a wealthy New York businessman.
The show digs into racial issues in nearly every episode, making it one of the most barrier-breaking sitcoms ever – especially for the late 70s.
Tim Taylor (Tim Allen) is the fix-anything “toolman” on his home improvement show Tool Time, but off screen, he’s just a regular dad that can’t fix everything. While trying to raise three boys, Tim and his wife, Jill (Patricia Richardson), provide some top-tier family sitcom laughs.
But as well as making us LOL, Home Improvement does an excellent job challenging what it means to be a modern man who’s also trying to raise men.
A few years back, Netflix did the world a favor by reuniting Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin for Grace and Frankie.
The two women come on hard times when their husbands (played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) reveal that they’re in love with each other. This forces Grace and Frankie to put their rivalry aside, and lean on each other for moral, philosophical, and of course, comical support in this hilarious, unconventional family sitcom.
Photo by Melissa Moseley/Netflix/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
All in the Family is often recognized as TV’s first show about a real American family.
The show follows Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), a no-nonsense old man with comically conservative views. Things get tough for Archie (and funny for us) when he has to interact with his Polish son-in-law, his wife’s feminist cousin, and his African American neighbors.