In honor of March, the bracket-iest month of the year, The Wire decided to go all out and create a tournament for everything. Every weekday for the rest of the month, we're presenting a different tournament to determine the very best (or worst) thing in a given field. And we're doing it the way that God intended: Bracket showdowns.
We picked the field, but you vote for the winner. Fill out our interactive bracket, round-by-round, to determine the people's champion, then read through our choices to find out who we think is the best of the best. Each day is a new champion!
By popular demand, here is today's bracket—the best TV families of all time. Sitcoms clearly ruled the roost here, and yes, we're sorry if your favorite clan was excluded. There's 60 years of TV history to root through, after all!
The Huxtables, The Cosby Show: Led by Dr. Cliff Huxtable, the brood was known for their stellar dance moves, among their many other virtues.
The Bradys, The Brady Bunch: Here’s the story, of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls. Okay. You know the rest.
The Cleavers, Leave it to Beaver: The ideal 1950s nuclear family with the perfectly coiffed mother, the handsome, reasonable father, and, of course, Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.
The Cranes, Frasier: Niles and Frasier Crane were two of the most lovable pretentious jerks to ever grace our TV screens, and Eddie Crane was the best TV dog hands down. The Cranes get even better if you count Lilith as part of the family.
The Bunkers, All in the Family: Norman Lear brought the anti-hero to situation comedy with Archie Bunker, the nasty, bigoted patriarch of All in the Family. Archie’s acidity was balanced out thanks to his brilliantly ditzy wife, Edith, and his hippie daughter, Gloria. And then there was Meathead, a.k.a. Gloria’s husband Michael.
The Bluths, Arrested Development: The messed up SoCal family that launched a million sight gags. Never forget their lessons, for instance: always leave a note, and there’s always money in the Banana Stand.
The Gilmores, Gilmore Girls: Anyone can sing the praises of the glorious relationship between Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, but true fans know that the unsung hero is Lorelai’s mom Emily Gilmore.
The Clampetts, Beverly Hillbillies: Jed Clampett struck oil and took his brood to Beverly. Hills, that is.
The Ricardos, I Love Lucy: A Cuban bandleader. The nutty redhead that just wants to be in a show. Little Ricky. The Ricardos of I Love Lucy are the ultimate classic TV family. No ‘splainin to do here.
The Crawleys, Downton Abbey: The heirs to Downton are probably the most refined family on this list.
The Munsters: The ugly one in this family—which included a Frankenstein monster, two vampires, and a wolf boy—was the typically pretty blonde.
The Petries, The Dick Van Dyke Show: Rob Petrie tripped over an ottoman every episode and charmed the pants off of everyone. Laura Petrie wore pants.
The Jeffersons: The Bunkers' neighbors moved on up to a deluxe apartment in the sky and got their own TV show.
The Brodys, Homeland: Dad Nicholas is a war hero turned terrorist. Daughter Dana is just maybe the most dower teenager ever. Son Chris just wanted huevos rancheros from his mom’s lover.
The Drapers, Mad Men: They should be the Cleavers, but Don’s too much of a cad, Betty’s too angry, Sally’s too angsty and Bobby—well, the less said about Bobby the better.
The Addams Family: They’re creepy and they’re kooky, they’re altogether ooky. Snap snap.
The Kardashians, Keeping Up with the Kardashians: America's new royal family is brought to us by Ryan Seacrest, recently assimilated Kanye West, and controls most of the hours on the E! Network. Everyone knows Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Rob, Kris and the rest of the Jenners, but they're growing every day.
The Keatons, Family Ties: A couple of former hippies raise evil Reaganite children in the ultimate 80s culture-clash sitcom. But they all love each other!
The Simpsons: America's greatest nuclear family.
The Hills, King of the Hill: America's most underrated nuclear family that often aired alongside The Simpsons. The quiet, but well-meaning Hank and Peggy only had one kid, Bobby, and a dog, Ladybird, along with a niece, Luanne.
The Winslows, Family Matters: This middle-class Chicago family, featuring cop dad Carl, wife Hariette, and kids Eddie, Laura and Judy, was quickly overshadowed by nerdy next-door neighbor Steve Urkel.
The Belchers, Bob's Burgers: America's latest and best animated nuclear family. Bob, Linda, and their kids Tina, Gene and Louise all have their very peculiar quirks, but love each other just the same.
The Seavers, Growing Pains: Another 80s standby, although points are subtracted because dad Jason fathered Robin Thicke in real life, and because of Kirk Cameron's subsequent career.
The Tanners, Full House: Widow Danny, his three kids, his crazy brother-in-law Jesse, and buddy Joey Gladstone. Everywhere you look, there's a heart, a hand to hold on to!
The Bravermans, Parenthood: Extra points just because of sheer numbers. The Bay Area clan keeps hungrily adding to its multi-ethnic, star-studded brood.
The Malcolm in the Middle family: The only family on this list to never be assigned a last name as part of some weird in-joke. Not the only family on this list to feature Bryan Cranston.
The Banks/Smith family, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air: West Philadelphia meets L.A.'s fanciest gated community. Dorky dancing and life lessons ensued. The mom got recast halfway through, though.
The Cohens, The O.C.: Another makeshift, loving family, with activist Bronx-born Sandy, his tony wife, Kirsten, and their awkward son, Seth, inviting the well-meaning Ryan into their home from juvie. They ate a lot of bagels together.
The Whites, Breaking Bad: Hard to argue that Walter, Skyler, Walt Jr. (sorry, "Flynn") and baby Holly were a functional family, but a lot of crazy stuff sure happened nominally to provide for it!
The Connors, Roseanne: Roseanne, her sister Jackie, husband Dan, and kids Darlene, Becky and DJ. Becky also changed identity mid-way, then changed back. Don't mention the final season.
The Starks, Game of Thrones: Their ranks are depleted right now, but Ned, Catelyn and their five kids (plus Jon from another mother) are a tough, frostbitten bunch, and they all have giant wolves!
The Sopranos: The real Soprano family, not the *nudge* *wink* this-thing-of-ours family. Tony, Carmela, Meadow and AJ, plus Uncle Junior and grandma Livia, although there was some unresolved tension there.
Your vote: The Bluths
The Wire's vote:
Round of 32
Sopranos vs. Whites: The Whites couldn’t keep it together when their patriarch turned to a life of crime. The Sopranos ate dinner together at a diner in the finale. Winner: Sopranos
Starks vs. Crawleys: As far as we know, the Crawleys do not routinely fight wars with swords, nor do they have mental bonds with direwolves. Winner: Starks
Bravermans vs. Gilmores: The battle of the Lauren Grahams is really no battle at all. The Bravermans have numbers on their side, but the Gilmore bond is thicker than steel. Winner: Gilmores
Simpsons vs. Hills: King of the Hill is a really underrated TV show. And with that, we bid it goodbye. Winner: Simpsons
Petries vs. Ricardos: Oh, Rob! We love the Petries to death thanks to Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore's chemistry and charm. But the Ricardos set the stage for everything that followed with their mix of culture clash and love. Winner: Ricardos
Banks-Smith vs. Tanners: We’ve got a Battle of the '90s superstars here, but Carlton Banks ultimately trumps any Olsen twin. Winner: Banks-Smith
Munsters vs. Addamses: Look, you know the Addams family theme song. They are the popular choice. Still, the fact that Munsters had a normal girl for a relative was plain ingenious. Plus, Fred Gwynne. Winner: Munsters
Connors vs. Keatons: Come on, no one really wants to hang out with Alex P. Keaton. Winner: Connors
Drapers vs. Brodys: Both of these families have big daddy issues and sons that no one really seems to care about. One has Dana Brody. Winner: Drapers
Jeffersons vs. Bunkers: This is a tough one. Norman Lear is an undeniable genius, and these families were often great when interacting with one another. But by putting such a deeply unlikeable character like Archie Bunker in the center of a sitcom Lear broke new ground. Winner: Bunkers
Clampetts vs. Kardashians: Both are pretty annoying, both hang around Beverly Hills, but please, did you really think we were going to let the Kardashians get past the first round? Winner: Clampetts
Cleavers vs. Bradys: How do you take your wholesome? With cheesy '70s pop or '50s earnestness? The Bradys extended the nuclear family, though. Winner: Bradys
Malcolm in the Middle family vs. Bluths: The quirky Fox family comedy deathmatch! Malcolm lasted longer, but they never got a revival season on Netflix because people loved the show so much. Winner: Bluths
Huxtables vs. Seavers: The Huxtables are an almighty juggernaut. Who are the Seavers again? Winner: Huxtables
Cohens vs. Winslows: Both families accepted an outsider into their homes, but Ryan Atwood is infinitely more lovable than Urkel, although both cause the same amount of mayhem. Winner: Cohens
Cranes vs. Belchers: The Belchers are adorable and beautiful. Give them a few more years and they might be able to edge the venerable Cranes. But not just yet. Winner: Cranes
Sopranos vs. Starks: The Starks are tough, but they couldn’t go one season without their patriarch losing his head. Winner: Sopranos
Gilmores vs. Simpsons: Sorry, Simpsons. The complicated, heartwarming bond of the Gilmore girls trumps your hundred million seasons. Winners: Gilmores
Ricardos vs. Banks-Smiths: Here is where history beats nostalgia. The Ricardos changed the game for everyone. Winners: Ricardos
Munsters vs. Connors: The Connors were a window onto America’s blue-collar working class, but Herman Munster was a Frankenstein. Winner: Munsters
Drapers vs. Bunkers: Archie Bunker is Don Draper’s sad future if he doesn’t watch himself. All brooding in the world, can’t beat the harmonious discord of the Bunkers. Winner: Bunkers
Clampetts vs. Bradys: We let the Clampetts have a round. Now, they’re out. Winners: Bradys
Bluths vs. Huxtables: It’s impossible not to love the quippy dysfunction of the Bluths, but it’s really impossible not to love the extended Huxtable family. Winner: Huxtables
Cohens vs. Cranes: No amount of bagels or Death Cab for Cutie can beat out two lovably pretentious psychiatrists and their police officer dad. Plus, Eddie. Winner: Cranes
Sopranos vs. Gilmores: The Sopranos loved each other, but still, the Gilmores were even tighter, had more epic fights, and less of a rap sheet. Winners: Gilmores
Ricardos vs. Munsters: Sorry, Munsters. We love Lucy. Winners: Ricardos
Bunkers vs. Bradys: The Bradys are just so uninteresting compared to the Bunkers. Winners: Bunkers
Huxtables vs. Cranes: Each one of the Huxtables’ opponents put up a real fight. It doesn’t matter. Winners: Huxtables
The Final Four
Gilmores vs. Ricardos: We (David and Esther) adore the Gilmore girls, but considering they lost some of their shine in later season and did not basically invent a television genre they lose here. Winners: Ricardos
Bunkers vs. Huxtables: Two hugely important families in TV history, but once you bring in the likability question, the winner is clear. Winner: Huxtables
Ricardos vs. Huxtables: America’s original favorite sitcom family against arguably its best. The battle is tight, but really, was the result ever in doubt?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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