By Bruce Fretts,
Family ties bind us. We invite TV dynasties into the middle of our full houses (upstairs, downstairs) for happy days and good times. Watching married-with-children characters one day at a time becomes an all-in-the-family affair for the wonder years and brings about home improvement. That's why modern families matter and can take us to seventh heaven.
1. The Bradys (The Brady Bunch) Here's the story of a blended family who put the fun in functional. No matter that behind the scenes, Dad was gay and No. 1 Son hit on Mom. They taught us important lessons like "Don't play ball in the house." ("Oh, my nose!")
2. The Huxtables (The Cosby Show) From its first episodes — remember the funeral for Rudy's goldfish? — Bill Cosby's Brooklyn Heights clan brought family comedy home in living color. Cliff, Clair and their five kids saved sitcoms and defined must-see TV.
3. The Sopranos (The Sopranos) Tony and his families (the one at home and the one at work) proved that blood is thicker than water — or marinara sauce. We always whack the ones we love, right up to the final shot. Pass the onion rings and fuhgeddaboudit.
4. The Bunkers (All in the Family) We can't choose our relatives, so sometimes we get a meathead like Mike, a dingbat like Edith or a bigot like Archie. The best family therapy is laughter, and we got a bunker-full from Norman Lear's groundbreaking social satire.
5. The Barones (Everybody Loves Raymond) There's no escaping your family, so why not move across the street from your smothering parents and obsessive-compulsive brother? Ray Romano's titular Everyman taught us why not for nine hilarious seasons.
6. The Conners (Roseanne) Roseanne and Dan weren't always the greatest parental role models (for example, they discovered their old pot stash — and smoked it!). And that's why we loved them. In their struggle to scrape by, we saw ourselves...at least, until they won the lottery.
7. The Ewings (Dallas) We hope we don't see ourselves in these backstabbing, money-grabbing kinfolk. But we still love watching them mistreat each other. Whether it's J.R. (RIP) getting shot or a supposedly deceased Bobby appearing in the shower, it's all been a Texas-size dream.
8. The Cleavers (Leave It to Beaver) Despite their surname, Ward, June and sons Wally and Theodore (aka the Beaver) could never be cleaved. We don't have to be a suck-up like Eddie Haskell to pay them a compliment: As nuclear families go, they were the bomb.
9. The Addamses (The Addams Family) Gomez, Morticia and their altogether ooky gang (who started out as Charles Addams's New Yorker drawings) didn't leave us in the lurch, providing the design for cartoonish clans to come, like the Flintstones and the Simpsons.
10. The Waltons (The Waltons) The Depression couldn't get 'em down up on Walton's Mountain — nor could World War II. Creator Earl Hamner wove memories of his own rural upbringing into the lives of these close-knit Virginians. Good night, John-Boy...
The Other 50 (Alphabetically):
The Andersons (Father Knows Best)
The Arnolds (The Wonder Years)
The Bankses (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
The Bellamys (Upstairs, Downstairs)
The Bluths (Arrested Development)
The Bradfords (Eight Is Enough)
The Bundys (Married...With Children)
The Camdens (7th Heaven)
The Carringtons (Dynasty)
The Clampetts (The Beverly Hillbillies)
The Cohens (The O.C.)
The Corbetts (The Courtship of Eddie's Father)
The Crawleys (Downton Abbey)
The Cunninghams (Happy Days)
The Davises (Family Affair)
The Douglases (My Three Sons)
The Evanses (Good Times)
The Fishers (Six Feet Under)
The Flintstones (The Flintstones)
The Formans (That '70s Show)
The Gavins (Rescue Me)
The Gilmores (Gilmore Girls)
The Hecks (The Middle)
The Heffernans (The King of Queens)
The Ingallses (Little House on the Prairie)
The Jeffersons (The Jeffersons)
The Keatons (Family Ties)
The Lanes (The Patty Duke Show)
The Lawrences (Family)
The Lopezes (George Lopez)
Malcolm's family (Malcolm in the Middle)
The Munsters (The Munsters)
The Nelsons (The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet)
The Partridges (The Partridge Family)
The Petries (The Dick Van Dyke Show)
The Pritchetts and the Dunphys (Modern Family)
The Ricardos (I Love Lucy)
The Romanos (One Day at a Time)
The Salingers (Party of Five)
The Sanfords (Sanford and Son)
The Simpsons (The Simpsons)
The Stones (The Donna Reed Show)
The Tanners (Full House)
The Taylors (The Andy Griffith Show)
The Taylors (Friday Night Lights)
The Taylors (Home Improvement)
The Tates and the Campbells (Soap)
The Walshes (Beverly Hills, 90210)
The Winslows (Family Matters)
The Whites (Breaking Bad)
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