It starts out as a standard family sitcom called "Valerie" about a mom juggling the demands of work, three boys and a frequently absent airline pilot husband. Then after star Valerie Harper has a falling-out with producers, her character is killed off. Enter Sandy Duncan as the live-in aunt and surrogate mother figure, which leads to renaming the show first "Valerie's Family" and then "The Hogan Family." In addition to light sitcom fare, the show tackles "very special episode" topics like the death of a parent, drunken driving, teen sex and AIDS.
A breakout hit at a time when they were few and far between, the series casts actors -- led by comedy star Roseanne -- who look like ordinary people. Beneath the show's barrage of caustic one-liners, the Conner family deals with everyday problems like juggling work and family, and trying to make ends meet.
The antithesis of the loving "Cosby Show" family, "Married ... With Children" focused on the Bundys, a suburban Chicago family who would rather eat nails than say a kind word to one another. Al, the patriarch, is a misogynistic shoe salesman, whose wife, Peggy, is a housewife who does no work around the house. Saying their children, Kelly and Bud, do not have a lot going for them is an understatement. This biting comedy focuses on the couple's constant verbal sparring over their slacker kids, their lack of money, success and intimacy.
Webster Long, a young black child, loses his parents in a car crash. He gets taken in by his football-playing father's wealthy former teammate George Papadapolis and George's socialite wife, Katherine. George works as a sportscaster for a local TV station and Katherine is an accomplished family psychologist.
Ralph Kramden is a perpetually flustered but eternally optimistic New York City bus driver living with his wife, Alice, in a small Brooklyn apartment. Ralph's best friend is sanitation worker Ed Norton, who lives in the same building with wife Trixie.
This long-running animated comedy focuses on the eponymous family in the town of Springfield in an unnamed U.S. state. The head of the Simpson family, Homer, is not a typical family man. A nuclear-plant employee, he does his best to lead his family but often finds that they are leading him. The family includes loving, blue-haired matriarch Marge, troublemaking son Bart, overachieving daughter Lisa and baby Maggie. Other Springfield residents include the family's religious neighbor, Ned Flanders, family physician Dr. Hibbert, Moe the bartender and police chief Clancy Wiggum.
Ray Barone is a successful sports writer and family man who deals with a brother and parents -- who happen to live across the street. Mom Marie loves to meddle in his life, while older brother Robert sometimes resents his success, and Dad Frank just makes comments and raids the fridge. Nevertheless, Ray manages to keep a bright outlook and a sense of humor, leaving the hard issues to his more-practical wife, Debra.
"All in the Family" is touted as the series that brought reality to prime-time TV entertainment. The lead character, Archie Bunker, is a loudmouthed, uneducated bigot who believes in every stereotype he has ever heard. His wife, Edith, is sweet but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. They and their daughter, Gloria, and her husband, Mike, all live in a working-class home. Unfortunately for Archie, he can't avoid the people he disdains: His son-in-law -- whom Archie calls "Meathead" -- is an unemployed student and of Polish descent; the Jeffersons next door are black; Edith's cousin Maude is a feminist; and, later, his partners in a local tavern are Jewish.
Sick, twisted and politically incorrect, the animated series features the adventures of the Griffin family. Endearingly ignorant Peter and his stay-at-home wife Lois reside in Quahog, R.I., and have three kids. Meg, the eldest child, is a social outcast, and teenage Chris is awkward and clueless when it comes to the opposite sex. The youngest, Stewie, is a genius baby bent on killing his mother and destroying the world. The talking dog, Brian, keeps Stewie in check while sipping martinis and sorting through his own life issues.
"We're moving on up, to the East Side, to a deee-luxe apartment in the sky ... ." This spinoff from "All in the Family" is about literal upward mobility - African- American couple George and Louise Jefferson move into a swanky high-rise building. George is an obstreperous, often rude guy who thinks his wealth should get him anywhere he wants to go. His wife is more levelheaded and often cuts him down to size when his schemes go awry.