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There's no cheesy emotional music during the "serious" conversations, and the characters are just odd enough to be laughed at, while still real enough to make their predicaments believable and investable.
While the show is titled "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter", it's not the prevalent theme throughout the series.
As the "straight man" to Paul, it's usually up to Cate to be a more firm voice of reason and the heart of their family.
It's been seen on shows like "The Brady Bunch", "Family Ties", "Home Improvement", and of course, the ever-popular "Full House." Often, the show will try to depict one point of view: "Home Improvement" centered on paterfamilias Tim Taylor, while "Malcolm in the Middle" focused on its titular kid.
Stuck as the second banana to his sisters, youngest son Rory (Martin Spanjers) sees the least amount of airtime and is relegated to silly little escapades like buying a surfboard (they live in Michigan) or secretly keeping a monkey/snake/rat as a pet.
That and hiding in his sisters' closet, then reporting what he hears to Paul.
Many parents can sympathize with Paul and Cate's moments of nostalgia, during which one or the other will flashback to the children's younger days.
It's that gentle reminder that people grow up and grow distant, that life goes on whether we want it to or not.
At Paul's side is his wife Cate (Katey Sagal), who is returning to work after years as a housewife and mother.