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television: Family Values

They might be bloody weird but there's something strangely endearing about The Osbournes.


But they're not trying to, and beneath the hard, and often crude, exterior of this family are two warm and loving parents who seek to raise their children in a normal fashion. For the Osbournes, however, "normal" is a relative term.

First there's Ozzy, 54, who has recently released his 15th album, "Down to Earth." Part of the show's fun comes from trying to understand his quirky British accent. Then there's Sharon, who plays the roles not only of loving wife and mother but also that of her husband's business manager.

When the couple toured in the 1980s, they took their young children with them in their tour bus from city to city. Now Jack is 16, Kelly is 17, and they sport a new hair color and hairstyle seemingly in every episode and drive around Los Angeles in their luxury cars. Add to the equation six dogs plus a few cats, and it's easy to see why so many viewers tune in to watch the hilarity ensue as the family moves into its new home, prepares for Ozzy's nationwide concert tour and deals with obnoxious neighbors. So many viewers watch the show, in fact, that network ratings have surpassed those of any of MTV's popular "Real World" reality series, now in its 11th season.

Viewers might have initially been drawn to the show in hopes of seeing Ozzy chomp off the heads of bats or doves, as he once did in a drunken publicity stunt, or to see the unique style their house is decorated in: crucifixes and devil heads, for starters. But it's a sense of familiarity and intimacy that keeps us coming back for more. Aside from their ostensibly "abnormal" lifestyle, in the end they're a family like any other. They have problems and are forced to deal with them like the rest of us. S

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