With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you may be dreading yet another awkward family get-together. Everyone's had one of those gatherings, where if you cram down a little turkey and stuffing before Aunt Carol makes another off-color comment, the day is considered a success.
But hey, it can always be worse. Especially if you live in TV Land.
We rounded up the two most dysfunctional families we could think of -- the broods from Weeds and Nip/Tuck -- and put them to the test. After you read this, you may just be looking forward to your own kin.
(Remember, in this case, scoring a point means the family is more dysfunctional.)
Weeds' Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), a widow, drug dealer and the matriarch of Weeds, has three children -- two by her late husband, and one by her new hubs. For a lot of the series, she has lived with her brother-in-law, Andy (Justin Kirk)-- a complete layabout who is in love with Nancy -- and various other characters. Her new husband, Esteban (Demian Bichir), is gainfully employed as a drug dealer/corrupt politician.
Nip/Tuck's two leading men, Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) and Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh), have been best friends and plastic surgeons for decades. Sean has three children with his ex-wife, Julia (Joely Richardson). But he found out that his oldest, Matt (John Hensley), was actually fathered by Christian years ago, during a brief fling. But Christian has always carried a torch for Julia. After Julia and Sean divorced, Julia had an affair with a midget nanny before becoming a lesbian. Then, she and Christian dated for a while before she decided she was, indeed, a lesbian.
While Nancy's situation is awkward, at least the potential for an awkward love triangle has never been consummated.
Score one for Nip/Tuck.
After becoming a widow, Nancy started selling bags of weed to neighbors and college students to make ends meet. That let to her getting involved with gangsters and, eventually, the Mexican drug cartel for whom she helped transport drugs across the border. At one point, she married a DEA agent, who later died. After a few more meaningless affairs, Nancy got knocked up by, and married, Esteban.
While successful in their careers, Christian and Sean are hardly stellar role models in their personal lives. Christian has bedded more women than Ron Jeremy, while Sean has faked being paraplegic and gotten involved with numerous psychopaths. (One tried to kill him and his daughter. And his current wife, Teddy, leads a double life as a murderer.) Christian was once accused of being a serial rapist/mutilator. Sean had an affair with Julia's lesbian lover's teenage daughter, who ended up trying to kill Julia.
Nip/Tuck wins again!
Nip/Tuck has (and has had) some great and interesting secondary characters: Kimber (Kelly Carlson), the ex-porn star; Gina (Jessalyn Gilsig) the sex addict; Colleen (Sharon Gless), the obsessive talent agent/teddy bear saleswoman; The Carver (Bruno Campos), a serial killer that terrorized Miami and severed Sean's finger in an attack.
But that menagerie of weirdos is no match for Weeds' awesome characters, which are also like extended family to Nancy's clan. Elizabeth Perkins is phenomenal as Celia Hodes, a former Agrestic council member turned drug dealer and Nancy's frenemy. Celia's cynical lesbian daughter, Isabel Hodes (Allie Grant) is one of the highlights of the show, as is Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon) is Nancy's freeloading friend who rarely misses a chance to get high.
Sean and Christian share an expensive L.A. condo. Girlfriends/wives have also shared the space, along with Matt, and Christian's adopted son, Wilbur. Amazingly, they don't seem to get in each other's way as often as you'd think.
Nancy's brood has been uprooted from the cookie cutter 'burbs of Agrestic, to a quaint old house by ocean, to Esteban's Mexican mansion. During their time at the ocean house, Celia, Andy and Doug Hodes all found a way to move in and live off of Nancy. She also had all manner of gun-wielding Mexican bodyguards on the premises for protection, once she became pregnant with Esteban's baby.
Had we compared these families two years ago, the outcome would have been different. But dudes with guns + children and babies always = bad news.
On Weeds, teenage Silas (Hunter Parrish) has learned -- through his mother's collegues -- to be a marijuana farmer. His younger brother, Shane (Alexander Gould), sold pot to one of his teachers and got a venereal disease after a threesome with two classmates. Silas had an affair with the MILF across the street. After being shot by drug dealers, Shane, in turn, killed someone.
However, on Nip/Tuck, Matt has: attempted to circumcise himself, slept with a transsexual, cut off his friend's penis as a "favor," married a porn star that both of his fathers had already slept with, become a Scientologist, been a meth addict, slept with his half-sister, and is currently terrorizing L.A. as a mime that robs eateries.
Sean's daughter, Annie, had to have a giant hairball surgically removed from her stomach, after it was discovered she was ripping out her hair and eating it.
Shane may have committed the most extreme offense -- murder -- before he was even old enough to drive. But that seems pretty normal in comparison to the wacked out McNamara kids. Chalk one up for Nip/Tuck.
Bottom line: While Nancy Botwin is hardly mother of the year, there is no way in hell any kid could turn out normal having role models like Sean and Christian.