The Osbournes wasn’t the first celebrity reality series – or “structured observational documentary”, if we’re being pedantic – but it was incredibly influential, ushering in a new wave of TV shows centering on the lives of the rich and famous: The Simple Life, Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels, Newlyweds starring Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, [Hulk] Hogan Knows Best and ultimately Keeping Up With The Kardashians. When it debuted in the US in 2002, it became MTV’s most-viewed series ever and won that year’s Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program. The Osbournes didn’t run for as long as you probably think it did, only four seasons and 52 episodes until 2005, but now it looks as though it’s coming back. “Ozzy’s decided he wants to do another few episodes, about eight, of The Osbournes,” Sharon revealed in a TV interview last week. “It’s been 13 years since we first did it. He said for the three years we did [the show] he was drunk the whole time and [now] he’d like to be sober.”
Though addled dad Ozzy, ultimate matriarch Sharon and troubled kids Kelly and Jack may seem to belong to a different era of TV – one before Netflix, to be precise – the return to our screens of rock’s most bonkers clan is most definitely welcome. The strength of The Osbournes always rested in its characters: none of the family members was even remotely dull, and in the years since the original series aired, Ozzy’s only got more Ozzy-ish while pulling off a successful Black Sabbath reunion tour and album, and Sharon hasn’t missed a beat as she’s forged a fruitful career as an international TV personality. Kelly and Jack, however, have changed a bit. Once branded bratty and talentless, the Osbourne children have, well, kind of blossomed into decent human beings. Jack is now a married dad who’s spoken eloquently about being diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis, while Kelly is a funny and likable pundit on E!’s style commentary series Fashion Police, where she enjoyed a special chemistry with the late Joan Rivers.
The younger Osbournes’ personal development should provide an interesting narrative for the show’s revival, but even if the new episodes lack the drama of the original series – which chronicled Sharon’s battle with cancer and Ozzy’s recovery from a life-threatening quad bike accident, as well as a lot of dogs shitting on things – The Osbournes will still be worth watching. This family is a uniquely quirky proposition: they’re totally dysfunctional but have each others’ backs. They can be properly funny just by being themselves. And there’s always the chance that Sharon might hurl a ham over the fence again to piss off the neighbours…