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The Best Irish-American Families On TV And One Movie

By Emily Cutler | Lists | March 17, 2017 |

By Emily Cutler | Lists | March 17, 2017 |

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. That precious time of year when white people of all backgrounds put on green t-shirts, and drink garbage beer until they puke. It’s not a good holiday really, and I love the ever-loving crap out of it. Mostly because it’s fundamentally a celebration of Irish-Americans, and we’re sort of the worst. Think about it for a second. Irish-Americans took a day that was observed as a religious holiday in the old country, turned it into a drunken Irish pride parade, created a list of rules about how one properly celebrates this new, made-up holiday (It’s St. Paddy’s. If you call it St. Patty’s, I will shiv you), and essentially forced Mother Ireland to start celebrating it our way because they didn’t seem patriotic enough. What? Why? And the weirdest part is even as I mock the Irish-American’s tendency to lose their effing minds at a perceived slight on our manufactured history, I am swelling with pride. We’re such beautiful bastards.

So in honor of a made up holiday we’ve willed into gloriously, terrible perfection, I’d like to present the other thing Irish-Americans are great at: having jacked up families. Enjoy

The Gallaghers - Shameless


I mean, clearly, right? There’s a segment for whom South Side Irish means you share which parish you were confirmed in and which parochial school you attended. That is not my kind of South Side Irish.

The Gavins - Rescue Me


The Gavins answer the question: what if you gave the Gallaghers a family occupation? The answer is: they’d be fuck ups with slightly more money. The Irish-American are a resilient people in their ability to never get over anything.

The Donaghys - 30 Rock


I have never in my life seen a more accurate recreation of exactly what Irish-American reunions are like. Awkwardness, reluctant reconciliation, storytelling, drinking, fighting, awkwardness. Repeat.

Entire Cast - The Departed


OK, technically, the various characters in The Departed were not blood relations. But goddamnit if this isn’t a very thinly veiled display of never being able to earn the respect and affection of your grossly abusive Irish-American father. Basically every single scene is shot with an unspoken “Why won’t you love me like I love you, you fucking prick?!” line of dialogue running through it.

The McPoyles - Always Sunny


Oh, wow. This isn’t what I meant by “fucked up family.” Are we even sure “McPoyle” is an Irish name? Maybe “Mc” is a common prefix for Lithuanian names too? I don’t feel great about this. This was a mistake.

The Bundys - Married … With Children


OK, this one is going to seem like cheating. For starters, “Bundy” is an English name. But technically, so is “Chambers.” And if we’re not Irish-Americans, someone should explain that to the six livers my collective family has lost. Also, the show never specifically states that the Bundys are Irish, and this, as you can probably tell from this post, is a thing Irish-Americans like to talk about. But I know, in my heart of hearts, that the Bundys are North Side Irish.

Yes, like their illustrious brothers to the South, the North Side Irish have some specific tells. Chief among them is Al’s insistence he’s under the “Bundy curse.” The English don’t keep track of that. Secondly, there’s the sad resignation to the Bundys fighting that you don’t find in a more fiery Gallagher or Gavin. They might bicker, but there aren’t any brawls. And while they’ve replace sarcasm for screaming, there is one thing that’s abundantly clear: they love-hate their jacked up family, and they always will.

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