There had been Big Brother providing unscripted reality TV, there had been MTV Cribs allowing you to have a nose around celebrity houses, and there had been watching people go about their lives in The Real World. Still, when it first aired on March 5, 2002, there was nothing quite like The Osbournes – the family or the show. Following the domestic life of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, their children, their dogs, and anyone else who came into their world, it was a raw, warts and all look at what it’s like to be in the inner ring of The Prince Of Darkness, both glittering and relatably mundane.
Always, it was gripping. It was unscripted, it was loud, it was sometimes disgusting, and it was almost always hilarious. As with the best TV families – The Flintstones, The Simpsons, The Addams Family – there was a powerful but natural dynamic at play: Ozzy, the long-suffering father, Sharon the all-seeing, all-knowing matriarch, the kids trying to outsmart both of them, a dog. Quickly, it became the must-watch on MTV, and made The Osbournes the most famous family in America.
It wasn’t always grand, though. Ozzy admits that he doesn’t want to watch it again, and that its effects on his family and himself did take their toll. Meanwhile, though Kelly and Jack appeared in the show, daughter Aimee didn’t participate, to the point of near invisibility. Watching back some of it, there are obvious problems and issues that are simply uncomfortable to see.
But in its best moments, it could also be heartwarming, incisive and real in the best possible way. More often than not, what sits at the fore is an overwhelming amount of love in a household that, for all the wealth and celebrity, could easily be anyone’s were it not for having Ozzy as the dad. As it turns 20, we look back at the 10 best moments from the show that changed TV forever…