They've been called the real-life Simpsons, the family who put the funk into dysfunctional. Like any other family, only louder. They also probably hold the record for most swearwords per television minute.
With all the necessary ingredients for a reality TV show1, The Osbournes is shown on MTV and is a fly-on-the-wall look at the everyday life of one of rock's living legends. So... let's meet the team!
Ozzy - the Dad
Ozzy Osbourne, former lead singer with the 70s heavy metal band Black Sabbath, is the father in the family. He potters around the house, complaining about the omnipresent dog poo, cooking burritos, putting out the rubbish and training in his gym. He still sports the requisite long hair of a rocker, but his gait and stammer hint at the excesses of his past2. One of the most endearing features of the programme is that it shows him - the self-styled Prince of F... Darkness - carrying out these menial everyday tasks. He is often seen hard at work on his favourite pastime - colouring-in. On rare occasions, he is actually seen performing and he sometimes bursts into song about the house:
No more pubic hairs!
- Sung to the tune of Phil Collins' 'No More Lonely Nights'
But that is just his day-job and is somewhat incidental to the real action back at the house. It is there that we see the true love of his life, the object of most of his concerns and the focus of many of his actions - his wife Sharon.
Sharon - the Boss
Sharon is the hub of the household. Most decisions are made by her and even decisions that Ozzy tries to make (such as the construction of a large dog kennel in the garden) are referred to her for a definitive yay or nay. She adores her children and insists on hugs and kisses... and telephone calls when they are away from home. She is also very au fait with what they are really up to, no matter how they try to conceal it. Her favourite dog is Minnie. In the first series, she was diagnosed with cancer, but has since made a recovery, much to the relief of all around her. The extent of her status is evidenced by the fact that she gave the Alternative Queen's Speech on British TV during the 2002 Christmas schedule.
When renewing her wedding vows, she recalls:
Last time we never had a real wedding night, Ozzy collapsed in the hallway, fell asleep there and peed himself.
She is always on the lookout for potential son-in-laws, including P Diddy and Justin Timberlake, for her daughter...
Kelly - the Pop Star
Turning stroppiness into an art form, Kelly has won fans worldwide for her refusal to meet the blond, skinny, sweet-as-sugar stereotype expected of popettes. She is also renowned for her potty mouth. Fond of a bevy or two, she struggles with the demands of fame as they impede on her natural teenage desires to paaartaay! Her first single was a cover of Madonna's 'Papa Don't Preach' - a not so veiled cash-in on her famous dad. She says:
People think they're being offensive and cocky by saying I only got a singing career because I'm Ozzy's daughter. Yeah, so? I know that's the truth. I'm just taking it for what it's worth and enjoying myself.
Her second single, 'Shut Up!' contains the immortal lyrics 'Blah blah, blah bleblebleblebleblah!' Most of her on-screen run-ins are with her brother...
Jack - the Lad
Jack is the youngest and only boy child in the family. (The eldest daughter, Aimee, refused to appear in the TV series. Perhaps wisely). At times he shows a degree of sophistication, particularly in his work in the music arena. At other times he is all testosterone-fuelled teenage lad. He is aware of these twin tensions himself:
I may be making more money than most 35-year-olds, but that doesn't mean I am 35!
He claims to have 'discovered' Kelly. He has unkempt curly hair, and favours loose shirts and combats as attire. His favourite friend is Dill, a skateboarder with even more impossibly curly hair, who has stayed with the family on occasions, much to Ozzy's annoyance. His last stay ended abruptly after a drunken fight between Dill and Jack. Jack's dog is Lulu and he enjoys swimming in the outdoor pool with her.
Melinda - the Au Pair
Melinda is the Australian au pair with the unenviable3 task of unobtrusively minding the Oz-sprogs, especially Kelly, whom she will accompany on visits to New York, Germany etc. Kelly is very jealous of the size of her boobs, but on the whole, likes her in a big sis kind of way. Melinda also acts as a go-between for the kids and parents. Sharon may ask Melinda where Kelly is and Melinda has to come up with a diplomatic response which keeps Kelly on her side, but also answers honestly her employer's question. Give that woman a Nobel Peace prize!
The Cats and Dogs
The Osbourne mansion is overrun with an undisclosed number of cats and dogs, none of whom seem to have been house-trained. Ozzy seems to think that shouting 'No more dog-s**t!' up the offending mutt's bum will somehow do the trick, but so far to no avail. Oz will also curse or otherwise admonish any animal who threatens to encroach on his food.
You'll Need Your Tissues For...
Bits that will have you choking back the tears include:
Ozzy and Sharon renewing their wedding vows.
Ozzy reading a battered prayer his Mum gave him, shortly after swearing at his assistant for trying to read poetry to him.
Ozzy on stage announcing Sharon's recovery from ill health.
At other times you will crease with laughter, watching:
Ozzy trying to fathom the TV remote control and unable to get anything other than the Two Fat Ladies baking bread.
Kelly and Jack arguing in the car over McDonalds products, having just been to an awards ceremony.
Ozzy shouting 'No!' at the incoming tide threatening to ruin his beach campfire, before his inevitable fall into the surf.
Must Be Getting On a Bit Now
Well, Ozzy himself4 is more sprightly than many a 50-something, but the show itself was almost an overnight success. The first episode of the first series was broadcast on 5 March 2002 and the series went on to win an Emmy for the Best Reality Series in September, 2002. The second series was first aired on 26 November, 2003.
Stuff Your Credit Card was Made For
Such a marketable commodity has not gone unexploited by the purveyors of plastic tat. It is possible to buy a doll of each of the four family members, each of which says a typical phrase, for example:
- Ozzy - 'Sharon! I'm a bleedin' puppet!'
- Sharon - 'Darling, the wicked witch of the West has nothing on me!'
One of the most tasteful available pieces of memorabilia is a pair of black velvet quilted Ozzy slippers, embroidered with a gold cross.