More TV Memories – Grounded For Life.

Grounded For Life (Fox, 2001-2002, WB, 2002-2005)

This is an American sitcom that was shown in a late-night slot on ITV1 for a while (you barely see any home-made sitcoms on ITV now, never mind imported ones). Grounded For Life centred around the Finnerty family, who live in Staten Island, New York. Sean and Claudia got married when they were 18, and they now have three children, Lily, Jimmy, and Henry.

They are beginning to reach their awkward years, meaning that, despite only being in their early-30s themselves, they realise that their children are almost teenagers. The other main cast members are Sean’s younger brother Eddie, and his dad Walt, who often gives advice on how the family should be run, whether it’s asked for or not. Sean sees himself as a modern, easy-going dad, but parenting’s just as tough for him as anybody else.

The idea is that it is Sean and Claudia who feel like they are the ones who are grounded, not the children! Grounded For Life starred Donal Logue, who had previously been in the CBS sitcom Public Morals in 1996, which was so badly received that it was pulled from the schedule after only one episode (although all 13 that were made were shown in this country on ITV). This one did manage to do better though.

This was also another of those sitcoms which had a “my totally crazy dysfunctional family” feel (and according to the opening sequence, they all like to play basketball together), but this was all rather overshadowed by Malcolm In The Middle, which launched around the same time and tackled a similar idea with more energy and wit.

Just after the start of the third series, Grounded For Life was dropped by Fox, and continued on WB, running for a few more series. By the end, Claudia had gone and popped out a fourth child, to much excitement. There were 91 episodes in total, but I don’t think that the later ones were shown on ITV1, although there were some repeat runs on Trouble too. But the story doesn’t end there.

In 2011, BBC1 launched In With The Flynns, which was a British remake of Grounded For Life, and starred Will “Jambo” Mellor in the lead role as the equivalent of Sean Finnerty. There were two series, including some episodes written by Simon Nye. But the reviews were rather middling, arguing that after Outnumbered and the like had revolutionised the domestic sitcom in this country, this rather more traditional take on the idea came across as rather redundant.