Reality television is the guilty pleasure of our day, and family shows publicize issues that every family faces in some capacity, from gender identity crises, to divorce, to regular old sibling rivalry, and everything in between. But even with all the things celebrities and regular folks have in common, it is the celebs that the common folk love to hate.
There is something fascinating about other people’s messed up families, and lives in general, that we seem unable to tear our eyes from. This fascination perpetuates the cycle, and those families become more famous and successful, and thus, probably, even more messed up. And we keep on watching.
Here are 13 of the most messed up families on television, from the glaringly obvious to the lesser-known choices still worthy of their spot on the list. Read on to learn more about these crazy clans, and maybe feel just a little bit better about your own!
13. The Duggars
They began their journey in the world of reality television years ago with their show “17 Kids and Counting”, which eventually became “19 Kids and Counting”. In that time, the curiosity about daily life in a family with that many children kept viewers tuned in. But more recently it has come to light that this clean-cut Christian family, often shown on mission trips or volunteering, had secrets to hide. Oldest brother Josh Duggar was found to have molested several girls as a teenager, most of whom were his own sisters. Equally appalling is the fact that his parents helped to cover that up, protecting their first-born but not their daughters. Later it was discovered that Josh belonged to a website dedicated to people cheating on their spouses, and had actually cheated. As if all of this were not scandalous enough, he was the father of three, and his wife Anna Duggar was pregnant with number 4 at the time.
12. The Gosselins
Jon and Kate Gosselin‘s brood includes eight children: a set of twins and a set of sextuplets. Having that many children at one time made them a prime candidate for their own show. That show, “Jon and Kate Plus Eight”, eventually became just “Kate Plus Eight” after the two divorced in 2009, largely due to to Jon’s multiple indiscretions. He said he’d married at 22 and never gotten to “sow his oats”, as if that were an excuse. Now he sees his kids but never all at the same time (some refuse to see him), and he reportedly owes over $1 million to his former company Securus, who sued him.
For her part, Kate has admitted to giving up her children’s freedom and privacy in order to maintain their lifestyle, even though the kids have a clear disdain for the show. Kate has appeared on several reality shows, begging the question of how far she must actually go to support that lifestyle, when she also seems to enjoy it so much. In this family, the parents are the ones to blame, but their issues have impacted their children greatly.
11. The Chrisleys
This family is relatively new to the world of reality television, but are not without their share of problems. The show focuses on real estate mogul Todd Chrisley and the micromanagement of his family. In the three seasons they have been on air, there have been accusations of fraud, his being sued by his own employees for sexual harassment, reports that he is gay, and all the other expected drama that comes along with raising several teenagers.
While he butts heads in general with oldest daughter Lindsie and teenaged pageant queen Savannah, it is son Kyle who is most at odds with the patriarch. Kyle was caught with a married woman and subsequently shipped off to Samoa for nine months, and more recently, he assaulted his baby mama.
He accuses his mother of being a gold digger and his father of being gay and bipolar. Obviously, this picture perfect, golden-blonde family just goes to show that all that glitters is not gold.
10. The Kardashians
These drama queens come to mind even thinking about crazy families, famous or not. Though the parents, Bruce (now Caitlyn) and Kris Jenner were married for over 20 years, they brought together a total of eight children from previous marriages, and together had two more. Through the years, like any family, they went through their share of highs and lows. The complex relationships of this modern-day Brady Bunch added to their fame, multiple business ventures, addiction issues, more money than most people would know what to do with, the aforementioned gender identity crisis, divorce, and difficult romantic relationships all around as the kids grew up to marry, re-marry, and have children of their own. The Kardashian-Jenner crew offer plenty of craziness to keep themselves centered on, well, themselves.
9. The Thompson/Shannons
The stars of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” have been heavily criticized mainly on the topics of health and the well-being of the children involved. Honey Boo Boo, also known as Alana Thompson, appeared in “Toddlers in Tiaras”, before starring in her own show. She has three older sisters, one of whom had her child taken away by Child Protective Services. The matriarch of the family, “Mama June” Shannon, divorced her husband “Sugar Bear”, then began dating a convicted child molester. Some have accused the network of exploiting the Thompson/Shannon family for being white trash, overweight, and basically a joke. The show was ultimately canceled because of Mama June’s relationship with the sex offender and the potential danger he could pose to her children.
8. The Abrahams
Farrah Abraham of Teen Mom fame is arguably part of one of television’s most dysfunctional families. She has had her share of hardships, including alleged abuse by her parents as a child, becoming pregnant at 16, being denied an abortion by her mother, the death of her baby’s father while pregnant, and being a single mom so young.
But Farrah made two adult films, got a DUI in 2013, and started a feud with her late baby daddy’s family over daughter Sophia. Now the family dynamic goes back and forth between shaky at best, and horrific. Farrah is just plain mean to most people, and it appears that Sophia is learning by example, as she frequently whines, insults people, and even hits without punishment.
Farrah is at constant odds with her parents, Debra Danielson (who was arrested and charged in 2010 for assaulting Farrah) and Michael Abraham. Appearances can be deceiving though, as Farrah alleges he used to hit her with a belt, among other things. The truth will likely never be known, but the fact that they have serious issues to work through is clear.
7. The Browns
The Brown family of TLC’s “Sister Wives”… where to even begin? Besides the fact that Kody Brown is a polygamist with four wives and 18 children, he recently divorced one wife to marry another since he can legally only marry one at a time (the rest are “spiritual marriages”), and has been playing favorites with his newest legal wife, Robyn. There are rumors that the other three will leave him, and that behind closed doors, Kody fat-shames and bullies them. Furthermore, the family connections are bizarre: Wife Janelle’s mother married Kody’s father in a polygamist marriage. Jenelle herself was once married to Wife Meri’s brother, meaning she then went on to marry her brother-in-law Kody, and her sister-in-law Meri instead became her sister-wife. And Jenelle and Kody’s daughter Maddie, 19, is engaged to her aunt’s brother, Caleb Bush, 28. None of this is overly shocking when you consider the polygamist lifestyle, but what is shocking is that infertility struggles in a family with 18 kids has been a large focus of the show! This is because Meri only has one child, and was never able to have more.
6. The Stanleys
The Stanley clan of Gypsy Sisters open up their lives for scrutiny over four seasons of drama that includes, but is not limited to: violence, all-out brawls, child abandonment issues, addiction, and plenty of run-ins with the law. The Romanichal women include matriarch Nettie, who has nine children by three husbands, and is the official pot-stirrer of the group. Her sister Mellie is a stripper whose anger problems lead to a lot of drinking and fighting. One fight in particular with her fourth husband resulted in the death of her puppy. Shortly thereafter, the series was cancelled. It featured several other family members that perpetuated the drama here and there, such as the sisters’ mother Lottie Mae who was released from prison after nine years, and one of the main sisters, JoAnn Wells, who allegedly stole nearly $15,000 from Target in a coupon scam.
5. The Hiltons
Paris may be the most infamous Hilton these days, but the family has long been a source of scandal, beginning with Conrad Hilton himself, who built a hotel empire (the first international hotel chain) from humble beginnings in Depression-era Texas. His first wife had an affair and left him with their three young sons, and his second wife was fortune-hunter actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, who failed to mention she was pregnant until they were divorced.
The present day scandals include the indiscretions of the youngest Hilton generation. Most infamous is party princess Paris, who shot to fame because of a sex tape, and kept in the limelight with her show “The Simple Life”. Her DUI and numerous arrests were echoed when little brother Conrad was arrested after disrupting a commercial airliner in-flight, and was suspected, like Paris, of possessing marijuana.
Their father Rick had married their mother Kathy, who came with her own share of problems. Kathy’s mother believed that women needed to know about sex and men, and hired a man to give her underage daughter sex lessons in a van. It makes sense, then, that she and her two sisters, Kim and Kyle Richards of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, all have issues, too, and are always feuding.
4. The Hogans
“Hogan Knows Best” star Hulk Hogan is his own worst enemy, it seems, when it comes to being screwed up. The world-famous wrestler brought upon his own divorce from wife of 25 years, Lisa Hogan, when he cheated on her. She eventually became engaged to Charley Hill (a man one year younger than her own daughter), and though they spent an impressive several years together. In the end they called off their engagement.
In addition to all of this, Lisa alleges Hulk was physically abusive toward her; their son Nick was involved in a major legal battle when he critically injured someone while driving under the influence; and Hulk made a sex tape. Poor Brooke seems to be the only one not involved in the craziness, at least not to the same extent as her family members.
3. The Spelling-McDermotts
Stars of “Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood”, and later “True Tori”, Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott earn their spot on the list mostly for how they parent their four children. This especially goes for Tori. Dean is no angel as he cheated on his wife (who cheated on her first husband with him), but Tori can be seen having emotional breakdowns in front of the young children, and even vilifying their father when they are present. She has a spending problem, and is the major cause of the couple’s financial troubles. Desperate to stay on television (and relevant) for this reason, she and Dean have even fought over the show, as he no longer wants to be a part of it.
2. The Osbournes
It is well known that Black Sabbath heavy metal rockstar Ozzy Osbourne has had his share of issues. Like many on this list, it is he, the patriarch, who causes much of the dysfunction. Drugs and alcohol were a huge part of his life, and led to him cheating on wife Sharon with two nannies, allegedly beating her, and even attempting to kill her one night (he did not even remember doing it the next morning, when he woke up in a jail cell and asked why he was there). Luckily, Sharon had not been home alone when Ozzy began choking her.
Sharon, for her part, has on more than one occasion sent feces to people she felt unreasonably criticized her family. She has been arrested for driving while intoxicated, and is a shopaholic.
Daughter Kelly has been through several rehabilitation programs for her addiction to painkillers, and her brother Jack was an addict, too. He also suffered from depression and he attempted suicide. Oldest daughter Aimee has refused to be a part of the show, and on the rare occasion she is on it, her face is blurred. She has publicly criticized her parents for their behavior.
1. The Harrises
Rapper T.I. and wife Tameka “Tiny” Harris have a family that is practically a breeding ground for drama: between them they have four children (ages 7-19) by three previous partners, and are pregnant with their fourth child together (the third was sadly lost at 6 months of age last year). The title of their show, “T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle”, pretty much sums it up. It is a spectacle of the couple, their six children, and everything from fights, drugs, prison, affairs on both sides, and even a rumored love child by T.I.
Recently he completed an 11-month prison sentence for violating probation of his previous conviction in which both he and Tiny were arrested for possession of ecstasy. He has also been arrested for possession of a firearm, marijuana, the manufacturing and distribution of crack cocaine, and battery of a law enforcement officer. Add all this to two other baby mamas, one other baby daddy, teenagers, and the chaos this brings about even without all the illegal activity, I cannot wait to watch “T.I. and Tiny: The Next Generation”! Regardless of whether nature or nurture dominates, if these kids’ parents are any indication, it will be even more chaotic!