family sitcoms
These family sitcoms are best company for a lazy weekend afternoon. Pic: iStock

Top 10 feel-good family sitcoms to brighten your weekend afternoons

You have a heavy meal; you relax but you cannot sleep; now try these 10 family sitcoms that will not only make you chuckle but also give you precious family time

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Weekends without plans are what adults dream of, but there is a problem with the afternoons, right?

You have a heavy meal; you relax but you cannot sleep because you don’t want to nap and spoil your sleep cycle. No problem – now try these 10 family sitcoms that will not only make you chuckle but also keep your heart warm!

10) Schitt’s Creek

Created by two of its leads, son and father Daniel Levy and Eugene Levy, the story shows how a wealthy ‘spoilt’ family — akin to thse featured in reality TV of America — cope with the sudden loss of their wealth. Canadians Daniel and Eugene pitched this to a number of Canadian companies before it was finally bought by CBC and aired. Schitt’s Creek was not very popular during its initial seasons but went considerably viral after it was bought by Netflix.

The series is centered on the Rose family, consisting of Johnny and his wife Moira, a  former local soap-opera actor, and their pampered  kids David and Alexis. The family is cheated by their wealth manager and forced to move to a remote village near Ontario, which Johnny had once purchased as a joke. The show has a sprinkling of unforgettable characters, such as  the manager of the motel where they stay, the village council member, the mayor of the town and his wife. The series offers subtle comedy without canned laughter (thanks to the producers). It may not be everyone’s idea of binge-watch but makes justice to the humongous number of awards it raked in.

9) Young Sheldon

This is a spin-off of Sheldon Cooper’s childhood from The Big Bang Theory. Viewers see  how Sheldon was close to this mother/granny (he calls her Meemaw) and a different childhood in his Texas neighbourhood. The series is an old-fashioned family TV show showing sibling rivalry and a strict mother, a want-to-be father and a warm grandmother.

The sequence between Sheldon Cooper, played by child actor Ian Armitage, George Cooper (Montana Jordan), his twin sister Missy Cooper (Raegon Revord) & his meemaw Connie Tucker (Annie Potts) is enjoyable. The series falls short on quality comedy and sarcasm. The narration by Sheldon himself adds to the woes. But the story becomes enjoyable and should be entertaining due to the fact that it brings out the late 1990s and early 2000s nostalgia. Most TV shows showcase the 1980s only.

8) The Marvellous Mrs Maisel

The only period  TV show in this curated list is The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, which deals with Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel (done by Rachel Brosnahan) – an ordinary housewife/mother in New York living with her family. She finds her nuance for stand-up comedy via a life shock in her relationship. She then meets  Lenny Bruce (played by Luke Kirby) and develops her career in comics. The story will take you to the 1950s life of New York, the pinnacle of luxury  lifestyle and pioneer of the contemporary modern nuclear family set-up.

This show showcases a woman trying to juggle her job, children, parents, fans and love life with the production done in a ‘larger than lifestyle’ but beautifully. The colours are vivid and the intelligent product design and    exhibition of how a woman’s mind during the early 1950s worked  is shown in detail. The show also talks about American society right after the world wars, where racism, sexuality and sexism were taboo topics.

Many viewers claim the characters including Maisel herself make deliberate weird narcissistic turns in their behaviour – which might be forced by the writers themselves to spice the series up a bit.

7) Arrested Development

This is a classic  example of how a show would lose its popularity if it fails to change according to the fast-changing times of the early 2000s. We  see a lot of family shows that gradually run  out of TV views. This was because the early 2000s saw large cultural and sociological changes brought about by the internet boom. Arrested Development revolves around Michael  in the Bluth family whose head is sent to jail for a white-collar crime, his son George who doesn’t understand reality, and other family members like Gob, Tobias, Lindsay and George Sr. The show stands out for its double or indirect delivery of dialogues hiding the vulgarity for kids but able to make the adults understand the comedy.

This show is definitely watchable for a boring Sunday afternoon, never the less for the narration of the great director Ron Howard himself. The show is also a standing example of how narration is an anti-cinema 99% of the time. If time-crunched, go for Seasons 4 and 5.

6) The Flintstones/ Jetsons

The Flintstones was the pioneer in  animated TV show getting prime time slot in the late 1960. This was followed by The Jetsons in the late 1980s. The reason for adding these series is the quality of the comedy and sarcasm they offer. Flintstones has a family living in the stone age where the machines used are powered by dinosaurs/birds/stone contraptions. The creativity of the writers should definitely be lauded. The story revolves around the Flintstones – family of George, his wife Wilma, his little daughter Pebbles, their pets Dino (a Dinosaur) and Baby Puss (pet sabre-tooth cat). He also has a neighbour family – The Barneys’ consisting of Barney, his wife Betty, his son Bam-Bam and their pet Hoppy.

The Jetsons are a family living in the future (then conceived by the creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera – the creators of Flintstones) with holograms, whimsical apparatus and other strange machines. They travel in space from home to work and stay  in space with floating neighbourhoods. It has George with his wife Penny, son Elroy, daughter Judy and their space dog called Astro. They are served by their robot maid Rosey.  There are very simple one-liners and slapstick comedy for kids to enjoy. If watching with kids, explain to them  how old these series are and the hard work that went into them — each slide was hand-drawn.

Also Read: ‘Boycott Darlings’ trends as Alia Bhatt slammed for ‘mocking violence against men’

5) Modern Family

The depiction of types of families like nuclear/ same-sex/ blended is the USP of this TV show. The story revolves around Jay Pritchett and his adult children Claire and Mitchell. Jay remarries a Colombian immigrant woman Gloria takes in her son Manny. He also has a son with Gloria – Joe. Claire is a homemaker who lives with his realtor husband Phil and their three kids.   Mitchell lives with his gay partner Cameron and their adopted daughter Lily who is of Vietnamese origin.

This show is not only inclusive in terms of social variety but also in the number of characters that we come across. It does not confide us to a limited number of characters. The show has received a stellar rating from the general audience, critics and reviewers worldwide, adding to multiple awards in its individual-show trophy cabinet.

4) Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

For  millennials and TikTok-generation folks:  Will Smith used to be on the small screen; he was also a rapper calling himself Fresh Prince, who performed alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff before getting this role.  Smith plays Will who got his way to live with his uncle to stay away from the trouble he got into with his local friends in Philadelphia. This and other stuff are pretty much summed up in the introduction track composed and written by Will Smith himself.

The story goes around a black family in a rich neighbourhood of Bell-Air which is headed by the uncle of Will, Philip Banks (James Avery), aunt Vivian, and his cousins Carlton, Hilary and Ashley. Philip is a self-made man: a lawyer by profession who has earned it all — house, cars, and property through his hard work. Vivian is a college professor.  Carlton, a nerd and a social ‘weirdo’, is a fierce rival of Will.  Hillary is a curious teenager – a bit innocent and eager to explore her late teenage.

Will is not portrayed as a troublemaker nor as a bad role model; he means good, wants to come up in life but struggles to let the difficult childhood he went through in Philadelphia.

The show also has some emotional scenes involving Uncle Philip and Will that are definitely heartwarming. Yeah, the acting of Will Smith in later seasons might make us cringe a bit but hey this was the 1990s – overacting was then normal and well-received by the masses. Fresh Prince is definitely funny: a smart, simple family sitcom for your whole family.

3) Two and a Half Men

The famous Charlie Sheen playing Charlie Harper – a hedonistic bachelor and jingle composer  – lives with his divorced brother Alan Harper (Job Cryer) and his nephew Jake Harper (Angus T Jones). He is frequently visited by their widowed mother Evelyn Harper (Holland Taylor). He has Berta (Marin Hinkle) as the maid. She is a selfish mid-aged lady with a nihilistic approach but mean-spirited.

The show has very few other characters like Rose (who stalks Charlie) or Judith (Alan’s ex-wife). This show takes a complete turn when Charlie Sheen is replaced by Ashton Kutcher, losing out on the main attraction of the protagonist for which the viewers watch this show mainly.

One of the other main attractions is the acting of Angus T Jones who plays the kid Jake Harper. It is by far the best  performance of a child actor  in any show.

Laugh tracks, line-by-line comedy, cheeky one-liners and sexist jokes…you see all of them, but this series becomes binge-worthy due to the funny moments between Charlie and Jake.

Watch the seasons of 9 -12 starring Ashton Kutcher at your own risk.

2) The Simpsons and Family guy

These two shows need no introduction for they’ve been running for 33 and 21 years, respectively. The Simpsons  is an animated sitcom produced by Fox. It is a satire of contemporary American family life. This is portrayed by Homer, his wife Barge and his children Bart, Lisa and Maggie. The series also has numerous other characters who look all the same — yellowish — and depict the pop culture at that time of telecasting. The early Simpsons of the 2010s were more fun when compared to the recent  one.   But never the less, The Simpsons is a fun watch.

The Family Guy is an adult animated sitcom again produced by  Fox. The story revolves around a couple Peter and Lois – and their children Meg, Chris and Stewie. This interestingly has a funnily arrogant/human-like dog: Brian. The story is set in Rhode Island. Family Guy turned out to be a cult of its own parodying contemporary movie stars, entrepreneurs and politicians. The series uses blatant use of foul language, vulgarity and cannabis references in a couple of episodes.

  1.  Malcolm in the Middle 

A dysfunctional family, a bunch of geek  kids, sarcasm, slapstick sibling fights, toxic parenthood –  all modern-day issues are in this series. Malcolm in the Middle was aired from 2000 till 2006 across seven seasons. The series revolves around a working-class family with four boys and their daily lives. Bryan Cranston plays Hal, the head of the family, and his wife Lois is played by Jane Kaczmarek.

The makers of this series never reveal the last name, which is kind of unique. The series has a bit of narration (breaking of the fourth wall as well) of Malcolm who is a gifted – a sarcastic kid protected by his big brother Reece who is not as smart as the least performing kid in the school. The last kid, Dewey is a smart-ass kid who gets his way.

The casting and acting are top-notch  with witty one-liners and subtle comedy. You don’t get laugh tracks  and this makes you giggle at a lot of jokes. The chemistry between the kids is exceptionally good, the natural supporting actors make us feel no character is voluntarily thrust down our throats.   The only thing that would nag you all along this series is the overacting of Bryan Cranston himself.

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