Entertainment

Brawl in the Family

See, Your Family Isn’t So Bad...

The holidays are fast approaching. Which means, invariably, that you’ll be seeing more of your family than usual.

And sure, they may argue.

They may fight.

They may connive and criticize and say spiteful things they don’t mean...

But at least they’re not flaying their enemies alive on a cross.

Or holding a harem hostage in their tyrannical postapocalyptic empire.

Thankfully, those are just the kinsfolk on our list of the 10 Most Dysfunctional Families of 2015—an enlightening compendium of fictional households to help put your very nonfictional one in perspective this Thanksgiving and beyond.

The countdown begins—from normal-dysfunction to totally-batsh*t-crazy—right here...

Hey, Look, It’s the Griswolds
A OH VACAY

Hey, Look, It’s the Griswolds

The family: The Griswolds.
Where you know them from: The Vacation reboot.
Why they’re dysfunctional: Rusty and his discontented wife opt to take their two teenage children on a cross-country road trip to Walley World, when they obviously could’ve taken a plane.
Their Thanksgiving dinner would likely entail: Middlebrow humor; run-of-the-mill familial tension; below-average stuffing.

Classic Broadway Family Drama, Here
HUMANS OF NEW YORK

Classic Broadway Family Drama, Here

The family: The Blakes.
Where you know them from: The Humans by Pulitzer-nominated playwright Stephen Karam.
Why they’re dysfunctional: A mixed bag of middle-class American micro-crises including a daughter mired with student debt, a sister mourning a breakup and a duplex apartment in Chinatown. Which isn’t as much a micro-crisis as it is a duplex. Still.
Their Thanksgiving dinner would likely entail: Well, the play actually takes place over the course of one Thanksgiving dinner that ends in a vacated room submerged in total darkness. So suffice it to say, it’s not The Waltons.

Like Great Expectations, but Awful-er
THE PURE

Like Great Expectations, but Awful-er

The family: The Aberrant-Tylers.
Where you know them from: Purity by Jonathan Franzen.
Why they’re dysfunctional: Pip is searching for her father (Tom), whose identity her mother (Anabel) is hiding because of a hurricane of a marriage that involved, among other things, the renouncement of a huge family inheritance.
Their Thanksgiving dinner would likely entail: A venomous argument of epic proportions; a phenomenal airing of past grievances; little to no actual eating.

Good Thing Ray Velcoro Isn’t Your Dad
DADDY ISSUES

Good Thing Ray Velcoro Isn’t Your Dad

The family: The Velcoros.
Where you know them from: HBO’s True Detective.
Why they’re dysfunctional: Ray Velcoro, a volatile, drug-abusing detective, finds out his son Chad was being bullied, goes over to the bully’s house and beats the lights out of his dad on his own front lawn.
Their Thanksgiving dinner would likely entail: Nauseating bouts of quietude; irresponsible amounts of whiskey and cocaine; a painfully awkward conversation about whether or not to watch Friends.

Stranger Than Fiction, and Then Some
LAID BARE

Stranger Than Fiction, and Then Some

The family: The Flemings.
Where you know them from: Mislaid by Nell Zink.
Why they’re dysfunctional: Peggy, who likes women, enrolls at Stillwater College, where she marries professor Lee Fleming, who likes men. Their marriage falls apart, Lee is committed to a psych ward, and Peggy changes her name, then finds a dead child’s birth certificate and decides to raise her white daughter black.
Their Thanksgiving dinner would likely entail: A refreshingly open discussion of identity politics. That was a joke.

A World-Class Spy Who Loves His Mommy
ARCH NEMESIS

A World-Class Spy Who Loves His Mommy

The family: The Archers.
Where you know them from: Archer.
Why they’re dysfunctional: Sterling Archer is a womanizing, hard-partying spy with a bit of an Oedipal complex. His mother is his boss. His father may or may not be the head of the KGB...
Their Thanksgiving dinner would likely entail: An attempt to poison someone or another’s drink; a shootout over the cranberries; an ill-advised post-dinner game of Russian roulette.

This Family Is Shakespeare-Level Crazy
EMPIRE FALLS

This Family Is Shakespeare-Level Crazy

The family: The Lyons.
Where you know them from: Empire.
Why they’re dysfunctional: The patriarch is an ex-criminal turned hip-hop mogul, the matriarch just got out of prison for a 17-year drug-dealing stint, and their three kids are pitted against each other in a fight for the family business.
Their Thanksgiving dinner would likely entail: Soap-operatic melodrama; spontaneous musical interludes; Terrence Howard doing insane Terrence Howard–y things.

Tell Your Mother You Love Her
SAY GOODNIGHT

Tell Your Mother You Love Her

The family: Lukas, Elias and Mommy.
Where you know them from: Goodnight Mommy.
Why they’re dysfunctional: They’re living in an Austrian horror film wherein two stray-cat-feeding twin boys are forced to deal with their mother after she surgically transforms her face.
Their Thanksgiving dinner would likely entail: They’re Austrian, so they wouldn’t have Thanksgiving. Also, this movie is scary as sh*t.

Pretty Nuts, Even by Nuclear Fallout Standards
IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD

Pretty Nuts, Even by Nuclear Fallout Standards

The family: Immortan Joe’s family.
Where you know them from: Mad Max: Fury Road.
Why they’re dysfunctional: They’re the physically deformed descendants of a tyrannical megalomaniac and his harem, living in the desert fallout of a nuclear holocaust.
Their Thanksgiving dinner would likely entail: Cannibalism; furtive stares from an unhappy bounty of beautiful women selected for breeding; everyone being really parched.

Just Be Thankful You’re Not in This Family
BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE

Just Be Thankful You’re Not in This Family

The family: House Bolton.
Where you know them from: Game of Thrones.
Why they’re dysfunctional: Their official family motto is “Our Blades Are Sharp” and they’re known for their centuries-old practice of flaying their enemies alive. Right. What’s your family known for?
Their Thanksgiving dinner would likely entail: Torturing people; flaying people; and, funnily enough, turkey.

Elsewhere on the Daddy

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