Chances are, if you grew up in the '90s like I did, then you probably watched a lot of sitcoms. The houses of the Simpsons, the Tanners, and the Winslows felt like second homes to me, and that's important because sitcom families taught life lessons. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I was raised by sitcom families — I don't want to field an angry phone call from my mother — but I would definitely suggest that they at least helped raise me.
I spent a lot of time in front of the TV as a kid, and sitcoms were my favorite thing to watch from an early age. Sure, I liked cartoons like any other kid, but I always found myself more excited for TGIF than I was for Saturday morning cartoons (The Simpsons, which was both a cartoon and a sitcom, was a revelation and remains my favorite show ever). Sitcoms are situation comedies, and more often than not — especially in family sitcoms — the show's characters would find themselves in a situation that I might plausibly face in real life. The way they handled these situations helped inform me on how I should live my own life, so take a look below at some of the life lessons I've learned thanks to that mainstay of '90s television, the sitcom family.
1It's OK To Be Dysfunctional
Despite being animated, the Simpsons were perhaps the most realistic family on television. Their imperfections were mirrored in my own family, and served as a reminder that real life isn't supposed to be like The Waltons.
2Don't Betray Your Values
A number of Full House episodes revolved around one of the girls having to say no to peer pressure, and they served as a reminder to always be true to myself.
3It's OK To Admit You're Wrong
Basically every episode of Home Improvement went like this: Tim and Jill have a big fight, one of them learns the error of their ways and admits their mistake, and they make up. While it's debatable whether or not Tim actually ever learned any lessons, I certainly learned it's OK to admit when I'm wrong.
4Don't Be Quick To Judge Others
Shawn and Corey came from very different backgrounds on Boy Meets World, which often led people to judge Shawn more harshly — even when they shouldn't.
5You Don't Need Money To Be Happy
The Conner family of Roseanne were decidedly lower class, and yet they still proved that family is more important than money.
6Home Is Where You Make It
On The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will found his true place outside his immediate family with his aunt and uncle, showing that love matters more than genetics.
7Don't Pay Attention To What Others Think
Say what you will about Steve Urkel, the guy knew who he was. Everybody made fun of him on Family Matters, but he never let their insults get him down. Even after transforming into the suave Stefan, Steve learned that the nerdy Steve was who he was happiest being.
8Family Problems Don't Go Away As You Get Older
On Frasier, there was always conflict between Frasier, Niles, and Martin, despite their age. The show made me realize that these familial conflicts will always exist in my life, and there are no quick fixes.
9It's What's On The Inside That Counts
On 3rd Rock from the Sun, the characters' outer bodies didn't match their identities on the inside, but they proved time and time again that it was their true selves who really made them who they were.
10Sometimes You Do Get Second Chances
The two divorced parents making a family together plot of Step by Step wasn't exactly original, but it still stood out in a sea of traditional sitcom families and showed that life does offer second chances when things don't work out the first time around.
11Respect The Environment
For a show starring people in rubber dinosaur suits, Dinosaurs was deep as hell. In perhaps the darkest series finale of any sitcom ever, the series showed the dire consequences of not protecting the environment — something that really stuck with me.