15 shows about working-class families that aren’t Roseanne

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Married … with Children

Married … with Children has been playing in syndication and reruns since it went off the air 20 years ago. It launched the careers of Christina Applegate, Katey Segal, and Ed O’Neill, and it has become part of the blue-collar class on TV canon. We have to thank the Bundys for putting poor people’s problems in the modern spotlight again.

The premise: O’Neill plays Al Bundy, a shoe salesman in suburban Chicago who mostly hates his life and family. Segal plays his wife, Peggy, who is under-appreciated and constantly antagonizing her husband. Al’s disillusionment with adulthood is a bit of a satire, but relatable to any of us who can get bogged down in the grind of life.

Why you’ll love it: No matter how cumbersome your life can be, you can always look to the Bundys to be your avatar for more dissatisfaction and contempt. Although we get moments in which Al shows love to his family (they are rare, however), we are mostly privy to his ennui and contempt for having to take care of a handful of ungrateful and clueless family members.

Peggy, as a housewife and foil, serves as another outlet for the condemnation of the drudgery of middle class life. Although it sounds bleak, and I guess it kind of is, it’s still wildly funny. Most of the jokes are at the characters’ expense, delivered with the biting familiarity only family members can use to indict their loved ones’ flaws. We get to laugh at them, instead of with them, and it’s cathartic in a real way.

Where to find it: You can find the show, for purchase, on Amazon and iTunes. Since you have to pay for the episodes, stick with the early seasons. The later ones get downright mean sometimes.