17 TV Shows That Celebrate Non-Traditional Families

Rebecca Deczynski | Dec 10, 2015 TV
17 TV Shows That Celebrate Non-Traditional Families
Image: ABC

modern family

TV families can either be eerily perfect (think Leave it to Beaver) or absolutely dysfunctional (hello, Game of Thrones). But somewhere in the middle of the spectrum are families that make us laugh, inspire us to do good, and show that there is no single definition of what a family should look like. 

These 17 TV shows prove that families come in all shapes and sizes, but they're always seriously loving.

  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)


    Image via Warner Bros

    The recognizable theme song tells you everything you need to know. Will moves in with his wealthy relatives, the Banks, and he ends up finding something special, a father figure, in his uncle. Remember that one tear-jerking monologue?

  • The Brady Bunch (1969-1974)


    Image © John Springer Collection/CORBIS

    You know the story: two widowers marry and create one of the most iconic families of all time. With the help of housekeeper Alice, Carol and Greg Brady learn how to teach their children to get along — and have fun doing it.

  • The New Normal (2012-2013)


    Image via FOX

    The gay couple that desperately wants a child. The kindhearted single mom. When they come together in this series, they make for an unexpected yet hilarious family under the same roof.

  • Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)


    Image © Seth Joel/Corbis

    When Lorelai Gilmore became pregnant as a teenager, she ran away to take care of her daughter, Rory, by herself. But the Gilmores are more than a single parent family: They're best friends. This is one single mother storyline we will never tired of.

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  • Kate and Allie (1984-1989)


    Image via Universal Studios

    After divorcees Kate and Allie combine households to live under roof, they created a new home for their children, all the while trying to hop back into the dating pool. They each found love at the end of the series, but for the time the two women lived in the same brownstone, their makeshift family was perfectly loving.

  • Modern Family (2009-)


    Image via ABC

    We love this Emmy-winning series for showing us that there really is no single definition of a "modern family"— from Jay and his younger Colombian wife, Gloria, to Mitchell and Cameron with their adopted daughter, Lily, to the more traditional Claire and Phil with their three kids. They may have some wild times, but it's clear that they love each other.

  • Two and a Half Men (2003-2015)


    Image via CBS

    Brothers Charlie and Alan Harper are complete opposites personality-wise, but when Alan moves into Charlie's home with his son, Jake, they manage to get by while having plenty of misadventures along the way. This sitcom united siblings as co-parents and showed the perspective of an uncle-son dynamic.

  • Big Love (2006-2011)


    Image via HBO

    This HBO series tackled a different kind of non-traditional family structure: a polygamist one. The show focused on a fundamentalist Mormon man with three wives and nine kids who all live together in secret.

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  • Full House (1987-1995)


    Image via ABC

    Uncle Joey and Uncle Jesse may not be blood relatives of the Tanner girls, DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle, but they helped their buddy, Danny Tanner, raise them nonetheless. 

  • The Fosters (2013-)


    Image via ABC Family

    This drama shows the difficulties of raising teenagers, but with a twist. Lena and Stef are a lesbian couple with a mix of adopted, biological, and foster children, making for one truly diverse household.

  • Sister, Sister (1994-1999)


    Image © Phil Ramey/RameyPix/Corbis

    Twins Tia and Tamera were adopted separately at birth, so of course they freak out when they run into each other as teens. They may look the same, but their different personalities (as well as the opposing personalities of their adoptive parents) make life a whole lot different when they eventually move in together.

  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2003)


    Image via ABC

    You can always rely on aunts to teach you a thing or two. But Hilda and Zelda Spellman take care of Sabrina as their own daughter, while also teaching her how to use her magic powers.

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  • Diff'rent Strokes (1978-1986)


    Image © Bettmann/CORBIS

    This heartwarming story of how an affluent family adopts the children of its late housekeeper shows that a little love goes a long way. Plus, who doesn't love adorable little Gary Coleman?

  • Raising Hope (2010-2014)


    Image via FOX

    Sure, Jimmy may have impregnated a convict, but that doesn't mean he doesn't make a loving dad. At 24, he is left to take care of baby Hope on his own, but at least he has his grandparents around for some help.

  • Ugly Betty (2006-2009)


    Image © 2010 Phil Ramey/RameyPix/Corbis

    Life in the fashion industry is hard, but luckily Betty has her single father, her single sister, and her nephew all under the same roof, helping her through all of her trials and tribulations.

  • Melissa & Joey (2010-)


    Image via ABC Family

    Joey starts out being Melissa's live-in "manny," taking care of her teenage niece and nephew, but their dynamic totally changes when they later marry. 

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  • Drake and Josh (2004-2007)


    Image via Nickelodeon

    Stepbrothers can have a love or hate relationship, but luckily Drake and Josh team up when their parents move in together — even if it is mainly to fight against Drake's younger sister, Megan.

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