Classic TV Shows That Spawned "Jon & Kate"

Big families are nothing new on reality television

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    TLC
    Reality TV phenom "Jon & Kate Plus 8" have become an obsession for many viewers who can't get enough of the drama.

    Our current TV-crazed society seems to be obsessed with reality series about plus-sized families, from Jon & Kate Plus 8 to Raising Sextuplets to 18 Kids & Counting. However, shows about the complexities of coping with large families are nothing new. In fact, people have always gravitated towards these types of series... even if most of them weren't very good.

    But while there have been heaps of twin shows (and even identical cousins), the giant families seem to hold some especially magical allure. And now that there are reality shows, they don't need to pay kid actors any more. They can just scar actual children for life by sticking cameras in their faces and filming their every move. Anyway, we hold these classic (and not so) scripted series responsible for this disturbing TV trend.

    Eight Is Enough
    Total offspring: Eight
    We're still not sure how a newspaper columnist and a school teacher managed to support a family of eight, even though some of the kids were old enough to have jobs, especially when it involved them keeping up with the (hideous) style trends of the day. Perhaps frugality was why they had to get poor little Nicholas that unfortunate bowl haircut. Did this fun gaggle make it seem like raising eight kids was kooky and fun? Because we're pretty sure it isn't.

    Just the 10 of Us
    Total offspring: Eight
    The large Lubbock clan got their start on Growing Pains, but when Coach Lubbock got fired in a round of budget-cuts, he packed up the family to take a job at an all-boys private school. Naturally, his teenage female daughters are quite popular amongst the boys. Showing that a family could easily pick up and head cross-country to California, find a super job (just because some folks in Long Island decided to have a little protest) that also gives the kids a private education is just plain unrealistic in this world.

    The Partridge Family
    Total offspring: Five
    There were technically only five children on this magic mystery bus, but free-spirited mom Shirley was a big kid herself. Not to mention that their band manager Reuben Kincaid (who was technically the most grown-up of the bunch) really didn't like kids at all. Mom apparently decided to take advantage of her underage (and only moderately talented) children by having them work to support her lifestyle. Even if they had fun traveling around in a bus and banging on tambourines, that was nothing to be proud of.

    The Brady Bunch
    Total offspring: Six, and sometimes Cousin Oliver
    This campy classic was the result of the blending of two families. They had to deal with three girls, three boys, Greg's alternate personality, a live-in maid, a dog and the occasional appearance by an annoying cousin, because what they really needed was another person living in that over-crowded house.

    Party of Five
    Total offspring: Five
    Oh, the Salinger clan. These five siblings really made a go of it after their parents died, despite the fact that they bickered and had no real parenting skills to speak of, not to mention a penchant for calling everyone by stupid short nicknames (O, Bay, etc.). In fact, it's probably a miracle that little Owen made it as long as he did with his brothers and sisters in charge of his well-being. As for the rest of them, their whining certainly made us think twice about ever having children.

    The Cosby Show
    Total offspring: Five
    The show started with only four kids, but an older sister was magically added after the pilot. This is actually probably one of the few actual quality shows on this list because it was funny without being too annoying, the kids were real and fully formed instead of stereotypical brats and a doctor and a lawyer could actually afford to raise five kids, send them to college and have a nice brownstone in Brooklyn. Actually, a reality TV version of this might be a refreshing change.

    The Waltons
    Total offspring: Seven
    Well, at least this one showed how the cash-strapped family had to struggle to raise this large amount of kids (no corporate sponsors here). Set in the Depression era, this big family, complete with parents and live-in grandparents, really struggled to make it. But what they lacked in income, they made up for in togetherness, since they really believed in the importance of ritual and ended every evening with a story and well-wishes.

    Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
    Total offspring: Seven
    Based on the popular movie musical, this series only lasted a season in the early '80s, but it sure did have a lot of kids, and as a bonus, dealt with trying to get them all married off. Sounds a lot like the Duggars to us. Anyway, it had a surprisingly decent cast -- Richard Dean Anderson, Peter Horton, River Phoenix and Drake Hogestyn (Days of Our Lives's John Black) -- but that doesn't mean it was any good.

    Quintuplets
    Total offspring: Five
    We love Andy Richter, but he can indeed do wrong, as this ridiculous sitcom in which he played the patriarch to a family of adolescent quints sadly proved. But at least it did show that the novelty of multiples wears thin when you've got opinionated teenagers living in the house. No longer are there five adorable little babies running around in matching clothes; instead you've got five bossy brats with strong individual personalities. Take heed, Kate Gosselin.

    For more from Television Without Pity:

     Copyright Television Without Pity