TV

21 TV Shows That Make You Believe In The Power Of Family

03/01/2014 09:03 am ET | Updated Mar 01, 2014

Family shows can be oh-so-boring. Sibling rivalries one week, melodramatic classroom tantrums the next. But when the Huxtables or the Camdens take over your TV, sometimes it just works. Showrunners with soft touches who draw on their own genuine experiences create the 21 television shows that make you believe in the power of family.

  • 1 7th Heaven
    The WB
    The Camdens have been through more drama than any other family on TV. Cutting, suicide, suspension, TP-ing the gym, boot camp, gang life, flipping the bird in front of your mom, etc. Aaron Spelling's family show to end all family shows had a point: Your family will always love you. Even if they don't like you.
  • 2 The Cosby Show
    NBC
    "The Cosby Show" changed the way black families were portrayed on TV and has since gone down in pop culture history. The Huxtables battled dyslexia and teenage pregnancy before other TV families would dare to touch the topics.
  • 3 Gilmore Girls
    The WB
    Lorelai and Rory Gilmore were the mom-and-daughter pair that really just got one another. Throw in pretentious grandparents and a small town whose members acted like aunts and uncles, and The WB created a flawed family you couldn't help but love.
  • 4 Family Matters
    ABC
    Sure, Steve Urkel wasn't actually a Winslow, but without him, "Family Matters" wouldn't have been able to show the importance of taking care of others.
  • 5 Brothers & Sisters
    ABC
    Pre-"Parenthood," there was no hour-long family drama that could make viewers weep like "Brothers & Sisters." With a matriarch played by Sally Field, the grown-up kids were there for one another through divorces, political campaigns, adoption and one horrible, horrible car crash.
  • 6 Parenthood
    NBC
    Just try not to cry during an episode of "Parenthood." Tender and nuanced, the NBC show feels like home videos if they caught the raw side of relationships.
  • 7 Good Luck Charlie
    Disney Channel
    Disney Channel's hit show will end this year differed from the network's other shows by appealing to adults with its sweet video diaries.
  • 8 Six Feet Under
    HBO
    "Six Feet Under" isn't the typical family-oriented show, but the Fishers proved that your blood relatives will help you in life and death.
  • 9 Modern Family
    ABC
    ABC's monster hit oscillates between sappy and hilarious. But show us one viewer who hasn't wanted to hug their dad after one of Phil's accidental sobfests?
  • 10 Shameless
    Showtime
    The Gallaghers are NOT the family you want to emulate. But, if there's one thing the Chicago-bred folks from the wrong side of the tracks know, it's how to take care of one another. Through liver disease, jail time, accidental pregnancies and arson, the Gallaghers sure do know the meaning of unconditional love.
  • 11 Step by Step
    ABC
    "Step by Step," a sitcom about a blended family during a time when cheesy family comedies we're totally en vogue, is so very '90s. But its portrayal of children who might not totally get the whole divorce-then-remarry thing makes it more real than its contemporaries.
  • 12 Full House
    ABC
    Guys, it's "Full House." When the going got tough in the Tanner household, the tough got the Jesse and the Rippers treatment.
  • 13 Growing Pains
    ABC
    "Growing Pains" was another classic family show under ABC's purview, but was able to set itself apart with a strong working mother and the addition of young Leo DiCaprio. Looking back, it's hard to ignore the show's offscreen drama, but "Growing Pains" reruns can still give you the feels.
  • 14 Bob's Burgers
    FOX
    Tina. Tina. Tina. FOX's animated show about the Belcher family is a sleeper hit built on wacky parents and even wackier kids. But the show is really about hormone-driven Tina, the oldest Belcher child, and her family's acceptance of her boy crazy antics.
  • 15 Malcolm in the Middle
    NBC
    Pre-Heisenberg Bryan Cranston, Frankie Muniz and Jane Kaczmarek drove "Malcolm in the Middle" to huge success. For a show based on the mundane aspects of family life, its single camera shooting and the broken fourth wall set it apart from other family-based shows.
  • 16 Trophy Wife
    ABC
    On paper, this sounds like a 21st century feminist's worst nightmare: Pete (Bradley Whitford) is on his third wife, Kate (Malin Akerman), but his two former wives can't seem to get out of the picture. But in reality, it's a hilarious, touching look at families who choose to work together instead of against each other.
  • 17 The Brady Bunch
    ABC
    Watch an episode of "The Brady Bunch" today. Sure, it'll feel dated and corny. But, no other American family captured what it was like to find family in step-siblings. Plus, the show paved the way for "A Very Brady Sequel," which is a film we should all re-watch immediately.
  • 18 Roseanne
    ABC
    The Conners became the face of blue collar working-class families in 1988, and at the center of the show Roseanne Barr was a dominant -- to say the least -- voice for working mothers.
  • 19 The Fosters
    ABC Family
    "The Fosters," which follows a lesbian couple raising a family together, is nuanced and hard. Simple family moments are weighty and meant for more than just show.
  • 20 Sabrina, the Teenage Witch
    ABC
    When you're a teenage witch, the only people who can really understand you are your cool aunts and your cat named Salem. "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" showed us that family doesn't have to be mom + dad + kids. Sometimes your extended family knows just how to take care of you ... and your magic powers.
  • 21 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
    NBC
    The theme song says it all, but young Will Smith found a place in his extended family well beyond the playgrounds in Philadelphia.
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