TV's Big Family Values
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TV's Big Family Values
By Amy & Nancy Harrington - GetBack.com | Friday, February 20, 2009, 1:28 PM
The Cast of Brothers & Sisters
photo credit: ABC/Justin Stephens
We come from a large family; we're the youngest two of five kids. Of course, back in the day, having five or six wasn't so unusual. By the ’90s, however, many families seemed to think smaller was better — a boy and a girl, a picket fence, and a dog was the ideal. These days, for all the talk that three is the new two, fewer couples can afford large broods, especially in the current economic climate.
But with increasing access to new fertility technologies, some instant families of six or seven are springing up like weeds, as seen in the TLC reality show "Jon & Kate Plus 8." Most recently, the "Octomom" has been at the center of controversy, after she added eight kids at one time to her previous six. We're not here to pass judgment (although it's certainly hard to resist doing so!). Instead, we present some examples of large TV families we all know and love, hoping that the "Octomom" and anyone else planning a big clan will learn some valuable life lessons.
"The Brady Bunch"
LIFE LESSON: Blood is not thicker than water. The Brady Bunch was one of TV's first "blended families." Of course, we had no idea what that term meant back then, but it made for a good show. When the lovely lady with three very lovely girls and the man with three boys of his own formed a family, they showed us that even if we're not related, we can double-date, fight over the bathroom, and compete on "Amateur Night" just like any other normal family.
"The Partridge Family"
LIFE LESSON: The family that plays together, stays together. Not only did Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones) have five kids to raise, but she was a widow to boot. What was an unemployed single mom to do in Northern California in the early ’70s? SING, of course. TV's first garage band, "The Partridge Family" worked out all their problems by writing a song, hopping on their multicolored school bus, and sharing their troubles with the world.
LIFE LESSON: Money can't buy love. The Waltons were poorer than dirt, but they had each other. Seven kids, ma and pa, plus Grandma and Grandpa in the mix, and they somehow were able to muddle through on Walton's Mountain in the middle of the Great Depression. They managed to keep the lumber mill going and help out the townsfolk as well with a little persistence and a lot of love.
"Eight Is Enough"
LIFE LESSON: Eight is DEFINITELY enough. When a family has eight kids, it's pretty hard to give each one individual attention, and important life lessons sometimes slip through the cracks. So was anyone really surprised that four of the eight Bradford alum had difficulties with prescription drug abuse, cocaine addiction, reality TV blow-ups, shoplifting, and run-ins with the law? The other four turned out OK, and if you count Ralph Macchio (he played cousin Jeremy in later seasons), that's better than a 50 percent success rate. Not bad odds.
"The Cosby Show"
LIFE LESSON: Laughter is the best medicine. With Bill Cosby as the dad, there was no shortage of humor in the Huxtable family. The lesson? Keep your kids laughing, and you'll get through the tough times. And remember, there's always room for Jell-O.
"Step By Step"
LIFE LESSON: Take things one step at a time. Mix three parts "Brady Bunch" and one part "Three's Company," and you get "Step By Step." Suzanne Somers' Carol — a widow with three kids — marries Patrick Duffy's Frank — a divorcee with three kids — and hilarity ensues as they take one step at a time adjusting to their new blended family. Sound familiar? Well, THIS Carol gets pregnant in season four, and then, over the show's summer hiatus, the baby remarkably ages five years. So they had seven kids. We thought for sure they were going to name the baby "Cousin Oliver."
LIFE LESSON: Sometimes you just need to keep the faith. Reverend Eric Camden and his wife, Annie, started with five children and then had twins in season three. With that many kids running around the rectory, sometimes you just need to leave things to faith. Guess it worked out OK for them. "7th Heaven" was the longest-running family drama in TV history and helped launch the careers of Jessica Biel, Ashlee Simpson, and Haylie Duff.
LIFE LESSON: Many hands make light work. When life gets really tough, take a hint from "Desperate Housewives" and put the kids to work. Lynette (Felicity Huffman) and Tom Scavo (Doug Savant) recently fired the staff at their pizza place and made the kids tie on aprons and wait tables. Absent from the endeavor was kid number five — Tom's love child and season three plot point, Kayla, who now lives with her grandparents.
LIFE LESSON: There's safety in numbers. Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) has eight children with his three wives on HBO's "Big Love." They live in three lovely homes in Utah. Only one catch. No one can know. When you have a secret this big, sometimes it takes a lot of people to keep it.
"Brothers & Sisters"
LIFE LESSON: Your brothers and sisters will always be your best friends. Like the Walker family on "Brothers & Sisters," no matter how often you fight, tell someone's secret, sleep with someone's mistress, or screw up the family business, at the end of the day, your siblings will be there. They love you, warts and all, and will stand ready to tackle the next skeleton that comes out of the closet.
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