The Simpsons

TV series about dysfunctional families, from Succession to The Simpsons

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From the Roys in Succession to The Simpsons, here are 13 of TV’s most dysfunctional families (just to make you feel better about yours). 

There’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ family. But, let’s be honest, we all have those moments where we question ‘who the hell am I related to?’ From ongoing feuds to chaotic mealtimes and bizarre traditions – there’s always something that makes you think your family is totally dysfunctional. 

That probably helps to explain why we’re obsessed with watching the ups and downs of our favourite dysfunctional families on TV shows. Even though we know their tales are fictional, there’s still something very reassuring about seeing other people navigating family life – it’s a reminder that everyone has at least one eccentric uncle they don’t like to talk about.

The Roy family from Succession instantly comes to mind when we think of TV’s most fascinating and dysfunctional families. So, with this week’s release of the trailer for season three of the hit show, we thought now is the best time to celebrate TV’s best families, which we know and love for being imperfect.

Succession

What can possibly go wrong for a family that owns the world’s biggest media empire? Quite a lot, according to Succession. It follows Logan Roy and his children – one of which will be his eventual successor – Kendall, Shiv, Roman and Connor. Backstabbing, lies and secrets aplenty – the Roys prove that business often comes before family.

The Simpsons

The Simpsons is a family everybody knows and loves. The animated series perfectly captures the mix of funny, tender and complicated moments that families navigate. It’s always interesting and lovely to the dynamic between ‘woke’ Lisa and her out-of-touch dad Homer develop. And there’s something reassuring about the fact that any family dilemmas will be solved by the end of the episode, with guaranteed laughs along the way.

The OC

Julie Cooper’s affair with her daughter Marissa’s ex-boyfriend. Ryan’s rocky relationship with his absent mum. Kirsten Cohen’s constant need to impress her dad Caleb. The families in The OC might be wealthy and well-tanned, but, boy, do they like drama.  

Shameless

With Frank Gallagher as the family patriarch, how can life ever be ‘normal’? Shameless (the UK version) follows the life of Frank and his clever and cunning children Manchester’s Chatsworth estate. It tackles social issues that affect low-income, single-parent families, while also delivering some outrageous drama. And god bless Debbie and Fiona – the two smart and ambitious sisters who keep everyone in check. 

Arrested Development

The Bluth family loses its business after the head patriarch gets convicted for fraud. Now, Michael, the only sane one in the family, must maintain peace at home. (Anyone else noticing the big link between business + family = trouble?)

Game Of Thrones

Where do we even start with the families in Game Of Thrones? Jamie and Cersei Lannister are twins who have a child together. Daenerys Targaryen is the queen driven mad in her quest to reclaim the family throne. And the power struggle between Sansa Stark nearly led her to make some grave mistakes. This show shows family feuds at their bloodiest.

The Sopranos

Ever wondered what it would be like if your dad was the head of an Italian-American mafia? Cue: The Sopranos. Tony Soprano struggles to manage his family and criminal life, and he confides his affairs to his psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi.

Ginny & Georgia

Netflix’s Ginny & Georgia follows angsty and awkward 15-year-old Ginny Miller, who often feels more mature than her 30-year-old mother, the irresistible and dynamic Georgia Miller. It’s a must-watch for anyone who’s fascinated by the mother/daughter dynamic. 

Empire

Yep, power struggles and big business once again come between another family in Empire. A tycoon in the music industry plans to secure the future of his company by pitting his sons against each other. Meanwhile, his ex-wife plots to reclaim her share of the business. 

Shitt’s Creek

Schitt’s Creek was actually created by real life father-and-son duo Eugene and Dan Levy, so it was always inevitably going to capture some family madness. The series follows the adventures of the Rose family – Johnny, Moira and their two adult children David and Alexis – who, after going bankrupt, are left with only one asset:  the deed to a small town called Schitt’s Creek. Without any friends to turn to, the family abandon their pampered lifestyle and move into the town’s motel. In doing so, they’re forced to reckon with the realities of family, friendship and community for the first time in their lives.

Malcolm In The Middle

Anyone who grew up with brothers will relate to Malcolm In The Middle. Seen through the eyes of Malcolm, the series follows the ongoings of his middle-class American family: his no-nonsense mum Lois, his exasperated dad Hal, his angry older brother Reece, and his troublesome younger brother Dewey. 

Mad Men

The Drapers in Mad Men prove that, no matter how perfect a family looks on the outside, there’s most likely some drama going on behind the façade. Betty is a bored housewife, Don is a cheating advertising hotshot and their daughter Sally is growing up to be a very angsty teenager. It’s perhaps unsurprisingly that the family splits by the series’ end. 

Black-ish

Black-ish is the Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated comedy-drama that follows an upper-middle-class African-American family led by Andre ‘Dre’ and Rainbow Johnson. The show revolves around the family’s lives as they juggle several personal and sociopolitical issues. Laurence Fishburne also stars at the grandfather – who wouldn’t want Fishburne in the family?

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Top image: The Simpsons / Disney

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…