If we are to believe Tolstoy, happy families are all alike, while every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This is certainly true of the families we spend our time watching on television - if you're unconvinced, try tuning into EastEnders once in a while. It seems that writers love nothing more than coming up with unique and inventive ways to keep their fictional clans miserable, and therefore more interesting to viewers.
But not all TV is about misery. There is a man inside the idiot box who devotes his life to helping fractured families overcome their differences. A man whose polygraphs and DNA tests can put a stop to any long-running feud. That man is, of course, Jeremy Kyle. He has his own daytime talk show - you may have heard of it.
Below are five of the most disturbed families in modern television, who I think would almost certainly benefit from an appearance on Jeremy's show. Needless to say, spoilers abound - so read no further if you're not keen on unpleasant surprises (which really are integral to the appeal of Jeremy Kyle).<
Simply imagine the caption banner that would appear on the screen as TARDIS companion Amy Pond tries to explain her situation to dear old Jezza: “My daughter is in love with my best friend! Also, she is a convicted murderer. And she is technically older than me.” Not to mention the unfortunate habit her husband Rory has of frequently dying, or the fact that the family friend her daughter River has the hots for is an immortal alien.
King Uther and his son Arthur are the picture of medieval respectability. That is, until you consider Morgana, Uther’s illegitimate daughter and Arthur’s half sister. Then there is Morgause, Morgana’s wicked and incredibly creepy sister, who encourages Morgana to use her knack for black magic to claim the throne of Camelot for her own. Families, ey!
While all may be calm and super-civilised on the surface of Downton Abbey, guilt and resentment must surely burn away at the heart of the Crawley family. Youngest daughter Sybil narrowly avoided being disowned after declaring her intentions to marry the Socialist chauffeur, Lord Grantham shared a brief dalliance with one of the maids, and Lady Mary simply cannot seem to escape her past – specifically, the time she boffed a Turkish diplomat to death.
Game Of Thrones is a labyrinthine epic populated with a number of complicated family trees, all of which probably deserve a place on this list. But the most troubled (and troublesome) family by far are the Lannisters, those blonde-haired, fair-skinned tyrants who are intent on ruling Westeros. Led by Tywin, the father who rules with an iron fist, the Lannisters are certainly an interesting bunch. There's Tyrion, the black sheep who drinks his way around every brothel in the land, and Joffrey, the bratty heir and fledgling psychopath. And then, of course, there are the royal twins, Jamie and Cersei - whose relationship is far from healthy…
You can’t help but feel for those poor children, who have been subjected to seven years’ worth of incredibly inappropriate stories by their dad, who still hasn’t got around to telling them about the time he met their mum, instead focusing on giving them the ins and outs of his sex life in his twenties. Creeptastic.
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