Sitcoms are among of the most entertaining and enjoyable genres in television, as they offer viewers a relatable insight into family life as the characters get up to various shenanigans in every episode. While the idea of a family sitcom is cozy and wholesome in theory, most central sitcom families are dysfunctional.
Sitcoms like Malcolm in the Middle, South Park, and Married…With Children present toxic dynamics and dysfunctional families as a source of the show’s drama and comedy. A dysfunctional family is frequently at odds with one another or have a generally unhealthy dynamic, even if they do come together as a family once in a while.
10 The Bundys (Married…With Children)
The ideal American family is a tried and tested sitcom trope, but Married… With Children shows that entertainment comes more easily from the opposite. Ed O’Neill leads the way as Al Bundy, a father of two who is desperate for a release from the mundane parts of his life.
Al frequently has to contend with his wife’s nagging and mocking. Al is no saint himself, though, and his persistent crude jokes about women have not aged at all well. The pair spend most of the episodes hurling insults at each other or resenting their lives. The Bundys caused a stir in the ’90s, making Married… With Children too controversial for family viewing.
9 The McCormicks & The Cartmans (South Park)
South Park has always been one of the more vulgar animated sitcoms out there, so it has hit some dark themes over the years. Two of the show’s main characters, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick, come from dysfunctional families.
Cartman’s single mother isn’t able to raise him properly, which explains his antagonistic outbursts. Kenny comes from a poor family who struggle with addiction, which prompts him and his siblings to rely on one another for support. Social services have intervened on numerous occasions, and the kids are even sent to a foster home in Season 15.
8 The Reynolds (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia)
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is a classic comedy that thrives on its awkward and uncomfortable situations. The show’s revolves around the main group, a bunch of despicable and toxic individuals. Each member of the It’s Always Sunny Gang has glaring flaws and faults that highlights their awful – but hilarious – personality.
Dee and Dennis are siblings, and Season 4 introduces their legal father Frank Reynolds. Mac and Charlie make up the rest of the numbers. Together, they form one of the most dysfunctional family dynamics in TV history. However, viewers seemingly can’t get enough of the gang’s absurd antics.
7 The Griffins (Family Guy)
It is no secret that The Simpsons paved for the way for future adult animated sitcoms, and Family Guy has been one of the main shows to benefit. Family Guy and Seth McFarlane have always been flirting with controversy through many of their jokes, and the dysfunctional Griffin family are almost always at the heart of it all.
Peter is generally the main instigator of the Griffins’ shenanigans, as his curiosity and disregard for others’ feelings often lands him in trouble. He is a terrible role model who hates his daughter, Meg, and the rest of the family follows suit. This leads to numerous arguments, absurd situations, and all-round dysfunctionality.
6 The Wilkersons (Malcolm In The Middle)
Malcolm in the Middle is a beloved sitcom that fans have labeled a classic for its catchy theme song and hilariously dysfunctional family dynamics. The Wilkersons are a family of two parents and four sons, but their family grows even more chaotic with the addition of a fifth son in Season 4.
The Wilkersons struggle to complete even the simplest of tasks and interactions. Malcolm regularly breaks the fourth wall to comment on his family’s general ineptitude, which contributes to much of the show’s charm and humor.
5 The Doofenschmirtzes (Phineas & Ferb)
Dr. Heinz Doofenzschmirtz is Phineas and Ferb‘s evil scientist, but he has never been a villain in the traditional sense, as he does show his good side on occasion. His villainy stems from the resentment he built up after his miserable childhood.
Heinz’s parents mistreated and neglected him. They turned their affections to his younger brother, Roger, and stopped Heinz from living like any other ordinary child, as they hit him with verbal barbs or sheer humiliation. As a result, Dr. Doofenschmirtz grew up in a very toxic and dysfunctional environment.
4 The Bluths (Arrested Development)
The Bluths are Arrested Development‘s central family. The show follows them as they struggle to function when the patriarch, George Bluth Sr. goes to prison for fraud. Without the comfort blanket of wealth and security, the Bluths struggle with living in everyday society, even if Michael tries his absolute hardest to keep them afloat.
George Michael Bluth, known as G.O.B., is the eldest of the Bluth children. He’s a wildcard and rarely helpful, while Lindsay and Buster have their own issues. The Bluth parents, George and Lucille, are hardly the best role models either, and it shows in how every family member has their own flaws and insecurities.
3 The Smiths (Rick & Morty)
Rick and Morty is a chaotic show at the best of times, and while Rick Sanchez can be mostly to blame, the rest of the Smith family is anything but healthy. Beth and Jerry always seem to be at odds and testing the limits of their marriage. They’re in a vicious cycle that does sometimes involve reconciliation and acceptance.
This is all while Rick and Morty go off on their various adventures, but Rick is hardly a good role model. The Smith family do have care and love for one another deep down, but it often takes moments of crisis to bring these to the surface.
2 The Roses (Schitt’s Creek)
Schitt’s Creek is a beloved Canadian sitcom that explores what would happen to a wealthy family if they had their fortune stripped away. That exact scenario happens to the Rose family when their business manager defrauds them, which forces them to retreat to their sole remaining asset, the small remote town of Schitt’s Creek.
Moira and Johnny barely know or raised their children, and they all struggle to adjust to their now-broke lives together. Each member of the Rose family grows throughout Schitt’s Creek‘s six seasons, but they never really function as an “ordinary” family, as none of these scenarios they find themselves in are “ordinary.”
1 The Simpsons (The Simpsons)
The Simpsons debuted back in 1989 and has since surpassed 30 seasons. The titular Simpsons are the now-typical sitcom family dynamic, as the show follows Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart, and Maggie on their weird and wonderful adventures.
Unlike later animated sitcoms like Family Guy and American Dad, most of the Simpsons’ issues stem from Homer and Bart’s idiotic actions. Homer’s short temper and irresponsible choices create issues for the whole family, who spend most of their time arguing. While this dysfunctional family frequently disrupt Springfield, they ultimately still stick by each other as a family.
NEXT: 15 Weirdest Sitcom Couples
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