"The Family" Review
By Shawn McKenzie 03/08/2003
Every family has squabbles and can be competitive with each other. What if that family competitive nature was shown on a reality show? That is the basic concept for ABC’s new reality show, “The Family.” As usual, ABC is depending on reality shows to plug up programming holes, but this one is worth watching at least. The network decided to give this show a run instead of playing reruns of “NYPD Blue” (which usually doesn’t do as well in reruns.) I’m not going to object; it is a strategy that has worked for all of the networks during summer rerun season in the last couple of years.
“The Family” is a show that documents whether a family will choose family loyalty or money when members of an extended New Jersey family compete against one another for a million-dollar prize. The competitors are judged a secret Board of Trustees that is made up of key members of the household staff, though this family doesn’t know who is on the Board and won’t find out until the final episode. The series is hosted by the uber-tan George Hamilton. Uncle Michael and Aunt Donna head the family. They brought along their 22-year-old son Anthony. These three will compete against seven cousins: Dawn Marie, Ed, Jill, Maria, Melinda, Mike, and Robert. They are a middle-class, highly Italian New Jersey family, and it is a culture clash when they are sequestered in a 20,000-square-foot mansion on a 40-acre estate in Palm Beach. Their mannerisms conflict with the high society-minded staff, who, as mentioned above, are their judges. They compete in high society challenges for cruises on luxury yachts, private jets, and extravagant prizes, but ultimately for the one million-dollars. The staff that is on the Board of Trustees consists of: Andrew Lowrey, the butler; Ringo Allen, the social secretary; Linda Levis, the head housekeeper; Franck Porcher, the chef; and Jill Swid, the stylist. The viewers at home know who these people are, and they get to see their judging process. Any disrespectful action will be remembered, and could be the determining factor when they make their choices. At the end of each episode, the Board chooses a family member to be booted off, or “denied” as they put it…but there is a twist. The “losing” relatives will stay at the mansion until the game is over, because the family as a whole will choose one eliminated family member to come back into the competition. This is where family loyalty comes into play. After cutting each other’s throat while competing, whom would you choose? In addition, once you “lose,” how hard would it be to have to continue living with your competitors with only the hope that you might get another chance?
I liked this show for a few reasons. First, the concept is simply delicious. As a TV geek who absolutely loves reality shows, I usually prefer the shows that have conflict. This show is ripe with conflict, and has the potential for even more. Second, in the same conflict vein, this family is very memorable. Every member of this family is loud and confrontational. At first, the thick Italian accents and attitudes might feel a little stereotypical. How stereotypical can you get on a show about a real family though? They wouldn’t act like they do if that wasn’t how they really were in real life. I’m sure they might play it up a little for the cameras, but in the end, it’s all them. Third, there is Tan George. His hammy seriousness and goofy stuffiness is absolutely hilarious. I cracked up when the Board made their decision on which relative would be denied, and with a serious frown, he says to them, “I’ll deliver the news to the family.” Absol-freakin’-hilarious!
As I stated above, I don’t mind the network substituting reruns for new reality shows. I just don’t want them to replace scripted shows completely. If ABC continues to bring us creative reality shows like “The Family,” I will watch.
DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW!
Try to catch this show every week...
If a better show is on, tape this one...
If nothing else is on, maybe this will be good...
If this show is on, change the channel immediately!