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Series / Grounded for Life

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This Dom Com, which aired on Fox from 2001–03 and The WB from 2003–05, starred Donal Logue and Megyn Price as Sean and Claudia Finnerty, an Irish-American couple who lived in Staten Island, New York, while raising their three kids, Lily (Lynsey Bartilson), Jimmy (Griffin Frazen), and Henry (Jake Burbage).

The other main characters were Sean's shady and eccentric younger brother Eddie (Kevin Corrigan), Sean and Eddie's father Walt (Richard Riehle) and Brad O'Keefe (Bret Harrison), the next-door neighbor who also served as Lily's love interest.

The show heavily featured flashback and cutaway sequences to events that had previously taken place off-camera, often revisited to show an event from another perspective.

The series lasted for five seasons and 95 episodes.

This show provides examples of:

  • Abuse of Return Policy: Lily goes on a large shopping spree and tries to return the clothes she purchased (essentially treating it as a kind of rental), only to find out that the refund would be provided in the form of store credit. This, and her going on an angry tirade that pissed off the store manager, led to her being forced to Work Off the Debt she accrued on her parents' credit card to avoid being arrested.
  • A Mistake Is Born: This is why the parents are "grounded" for life - they had sex in high school, she got pregnant, they had to get married.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Lily. You could practically label her rolling her eyes and doing an annoyed "Ugh!" at something her parents said to her (usually denying her something) as her Catchphrase.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard: Claudia - In high school, she faked being ill in gym class to avoid having to do activities that would result in her breasts bouncing, much to the dismay of the boys.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Occasionally, characters that appeared in earlier episodes would appear more significantly later, such as "Crazy" Amy or Faye.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Henry's actor moved east with his family, so his character was dropped. He was still alluded to from time to time but never shown.
  • Confidence Sabotage: In "Mrs. Finnerty, You've Got A Lovely Daughter", Claudia inadvertently does this to Lily when she causes a scene at the talent show during her act, resulting in the audience booing that she's ruining the show, which Lily thinks is aimed at her.
  • Dear Negative Reader: In-Universe. After spending the entirety of "Welcome to the Working Week (Take This Job and Shove It, Dad)" trying to win over a blogger who wrote a bad review of the bar he and Sean owned, Eddie wound up writing one to the critic. He even declared that he'd started his own blog, for the sole purpose of insulting the critic.
  • Flashback: Most episodes start about halfway through the story, so a significant part is told in flashback.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Subverted in the episode "Space Camp Oddity", where Brad says that he had a girlfriend at Space Camp, and brings up several lame excuses when people want to meet her. Eventually, she appears, played by Mila Kunis.
  • Grounded Forever: The title is one example of these. Doesn't happens In-Universe, though, but there's several instances of people being grounded.
  • High-School Sweethearts: Sean and Claudia in their youth; Brad and Lily.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Brad O'Keefe to Lily. He assumed that her emotions were divided between himself (whom she barely noticed and openly discouraged any kind of advance) and her boyfriend (who she was all too ready to get hot and heavy with). Eventually he decided to "back down" and openly referenced the concept that they were in a "love triangle" to the boyfriend, whose only concern was "The two end points don't touch, do they?". Eventually subverted, because Lily and Brad wound up in a relationship for most of the show's run.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode is either named after a well-known song ("Dream On", "You Can't Always Get What You Want") or a song-based pun ("Lily B. Goode", "I Wanna Be Suspended").
  • Made Out to Be a Jerkass: Claudia finds out that Eddie had an adult movie shot at the house and bans him from the house. Of course, when the kids find out, they side with their poor uncle. It even has lampshading.
    Claudia: Wait a minute. How did I become the bad guy?
    Henry: You made Uncle Eddie leave. Now I'm going to have a porno birthday!
  • Mafia Princess: Claudia learns her uncle is in the mob.
    She's a mafia princess. She's too close to know the truth.
  • Minor with Fake I.D.: Brad finds out his former bully, Scott, has a fake ID and asks him to buy beer, but gets ripped off. Sean and Eddie force him to buy the beer for real, but just as he goes to pay, a cop enters and arrests him for being a minor purchasing alcohol, which gets him suspended from the school basketball team.
  • A Mistake Is Born: This is why the parents are "grounded" for life - they had sex in high school, she got pregnant, they had to get married. Another see also: Teen Pregnancy.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Sean took his kids to the amusement park. It was "Gay Day" there and everyone was wearing a white T-shirt and jeans. Guess what he was wearing...
  • Oireland: The Finnertys are of Irish descent. A later (small) plot point, in that Sean and Eddie bought a bar, and used their heritage to their advantage on St Patrick's Day, by touting the fact that their bar was run by a legitimately Irish family, as opposed to their corporate rivals.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Sean confronted Lily's boyfriend because he thought he slept with her. It turns out they just got tattoos together.
  • Once More, with Clarity: Almost every episode is a series of flashbacks flashing further back each time. One character may have a flashback to a hit and run driver taking out their car door, followed by another character revealing they were the hit and run driver late in the episode.
  • The Parent-Produced Project: One episode surrounded a science fair project for one of the boys, which Sean took over completely (at one point welding it in the bedroom). Claudia is paranoid that they're going to be caught out for it and even takes steps to disguise Sean's involvement... until they get to the science fair and find out that every other student's project was also done by a parent.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Lily and Brad big time by the end of Season 3.
  • Second-Hand Storytelling: Flashback, too, in each episode.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Eddie is shown to reverse the roles, putting on the female's shirt/blouse the morning after. In one episode, when Eddie goes off with another girlfriend for the night, it's even said "You know, he'll really look good in that blouse."
  • Shout-Out: Jimmy was a fan of anime and Dragon Ball Z was mentioned in one episode.
  • Stacy's Mom: Lily's male classmates all have the hots for Claudia, a fact that makes Lily very jealous.
  • St. Patrick's Day Episode: In "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City," Sean is having trouble keeping the bar alive, and Claudia asks him to reconsider running it. With St. Patrick's Day around the corner, Eddie tries to lure customers over from rival pubs. Brad and Lily prepare for the parade, and Jimmy is having trouble understanding the meaning of St. Patrick's Day.
  • Stripper/Cop Confusion: In episode 110 - Catch Us If You Can, Claudia is throwing a bachelorette party for one of her girlfriends while Sean incites a mob of angry Yankees fans for catching a fly ball still in play. A cop shows up who Sean thinks is here to control the mob outside the house, but he is a stripper.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Claudia when she became pregnant with Lily.
  • Written-In Absence: The actor playing Henry isn't in the final season. In the final episode, Walt casually mentions that "he's around here somewhere".