For your hard-working mom who feels unappreciated:
Especially in its early seasons, Roseanne did wonders to captures the joys and frustrations of being a working mom. Definitely start Mom off with the beginning of the series, and if she gets caught up in it, maybe she’ll be willing to forgive the show’s later indulgences in fantasy, and you can get her the rest of the DVDs next year.
For your dad who’s always tinkering in the garage:
Dad probably likes simple things, like trucks and football and meat-and-potatoes sitcoms about strong American families, and that’s just what you got in Home Improvement. Tim Allen’s comedy about a manly man and his wife and three kids provided an affectionate look at the way men settle down, and the challenges they face as husbands and fathers. It also never really dug too deep, but it was a light and fun watch for its first few years, the perfect background entertainment for an afternoon fiddling with the workbench.
For your little sister who can’t get enough 'Wizards of Waverly Place':
Before Selena Gomez, there was Melissa Joan Hart, who played a young woman in a magical family coping with typical teen problems like dating, studying and navigating the treacherous social waters of high school. Oh, and she also had a sarcastic talking cat and two aunts who were witches. Sabrina the Teenage Witch combined the family-friendly tone of a show like Waverly Place with a slightly more grown-up approach, and is a perfect stepping stone for the tween TV fan.
For your older brother who prefers indie rock to TV:
A show that stars a New Zealand folk-rock duo who put out albums on legendary indie label Sub Pop, play festivals like Glastonbury in the U.K. and share the stage with the likes of Iron & Wine? Yep, it’s Flight of the Conchords, and it also happens to be hilarious. Stars Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie have indie cred to spare, and even the most cooler-than-thou hipster will be unable to resist their deadpan humor and catchy, ironic tunes. You can probably even buy the DVDs at your local independent record store.
For your jaded uncle who says there’s nothing good on TV anymore:
There’s been lots written in the last few years about the death of the traditional sitcom, and old-school TV fans may bemoan the current lack of iconic shows like Cheers or Laverne and Shirley or Friends, but How I Met Your Mother has quietly carried on the tradition of warm, heartfelt shows with characters you want to welcome into your home every week. Anyone who yearns for the quality sitcoms of yesteryear will find plenty to like here, and even the most cynical nostalgist can’t help but have his heart warmed by this show.