Doug and Kate Lawrence (James Broderick and Sada Thompson) and their three children, Nancy, (Meredith Baxter)Willie (Gary Frank) and Buddy -real name Leticia -(Kristy McNichol) were a family with which most people could easily identify. The Lawrences were normal people, leading normal lives and dealing with realistic and important issues. The show was never over the top or melodramatic and that was one of the reasons it was so watchable and so popular with audiences during its 4-year run from 1976 - 1980.
There were moments of light-hearted comedy of course, but mostly, the show was a drama which never strayed into the unbelievable and ridiculous. The things the Lawrences went through on a regular basis were always things that could (and do) happen to anyone. Marriage, divorce, teen crushes, menopause and many other events, written with sensitivity and realism by the writers made "Family" one of the best shows of the era and one that could be watched over and over without one ever getting sick of it.