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

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Malcolm in the Middle

Long before Bryan Cranston was playing a much more sinister member of the middle class, he was the goofball dad, Hal, to this bunch of dysfunctional and eccentric folks. Malcolm in the Middle was a cautionary tale about the perils of having so many children, but loving them anyway.

The premise: Frankie Muniz plays the title character, Malcolm, the middle of four (later five) children trying to stake out a normal life despite his genius IQ and the constant chaos of his everyday life. His mother, Lois (Jane Kaczmarek) is loud, over-bearing and controlling, which is balance to Cranston’s man-baby Hal, who’s silly and immature.

The show is less about “poor people” and more about the challenges of having a big, flawed family. Most of the comedy, and tension for that matter, comes from watching this family struggle against outside forces — financial problems, bills, housing troubles — while trying to kill each other in the meantime.

Why you’ll like it: It’s fun and definitely whimsical. It’s a kick to watch Cranston play the anti-Walter White. And it’s just as fun to watch young Muniz be a star, before he turned into the “child star” of later years.

Where to find it: You can watch the family, literally, grow up right before your eyes with all seven seasons on Hulu.