My Dysfunctional Family



Family fixer reality seems well-intentioned, but intense.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The message is that families in trouble can and should find help, but that the solution might not be easy. There's not much discussion about the lack of professional training the "family fixer" brings to the table.

Positive role models

Dave Vitalli is well-intentioned, and wants to be a mentor. But he's not a licensed therapist, and uses personal experience and security and investigations tactics to help families resolve issues. Featured parents have often given up on parenting, while their children are often disrespectful, but these behaviors are viewed as negative ones. 


Yelling, screaming, fighting, hitting, etc. is frequent. Brass knuckles and other weapons are sometimes shown. Bullying is discussed. Kids are taken to gyms to box and find other outlets for their aggressive tendencies. Vitalli is an abuse survivor. 


Promiscuous behavior, as it relates to teenagers and single parenthood, is discussed. 


Words like "hell," "damn," "bitch," etc. audible; curses like "f--k" are bleeped. 


Vitalli's company's, Vortek Security logo, is prominently featured on his clothing. He drives a Chevrolet SUV. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Underage drinking (hard liquor, beer, etc.), marijuana use, and other behavior visible, but in a negative context. Some of the consequences of possessing and consuming drugs is also discussed and sometimes shown. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that My Dysfunctional Family is a reality series that features families struggling with a wide variety of issues, from drug use to teen promiscuity, and being mentored by a guide who uses tough-love tactics to set folks on a better path. There's lots of screaming, yelling and fighting between family members, as well as references to violent acts. Words like "damn," "bitch," are audible, while stronger are bleeped. Underage drinking and marijuana use is also shown. Parents may want to consider watching with their teens to discuss some of the issues brought up here. 

What's the story?

MY DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY is a reality series about families in crisis, and a self-proclaimed "family fixer" who gives them tough wake up calls. It stars television personality Dave Vitalli, the owner of a New York-based security and investigations company, who travels across the country to spend a week with families who are dealing with a wide-variety complex issues that are tearing them apart. Using drug-sniffing dogs, lie detectors, and various commando-like scare tactics, he works with families to help them figure out what is creating the problems, and suggests ways that they can help themselves fix them. After he leaves, updates are offered about how the family is doing.

Is it any good?


From temporarily throwing family members into jail, to offering kids a constructive outlet through going to a boxing gym, Dave Vitalli mixes tough love, heartfelt conversations with individual family members, and family workshops, to help parents and kids begin resolving the issues that are impacting their families. Throughout it all, he shares his thoughts about what he believes are the problems and the ways that they can be fixed. 

It's hard to tell whether or not some of these tactics will make a difference in the long-term, given that they are happening in front of cameras, and that the families being featured volunteered to be on a reality show. Meanwhile, while Vitalli is well-intentioned, his lack of professional therapeutic training makes you wonder if his interventions are actually useful. But his passion for mentoring troubled kids is apparent, and there are some important lessons to be learned here. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what would motivate a family in crisis to begin resolving their problems on a reality series. Do you think doing this will improve a family's chances of resolving their issues? Does appearing on TV make them more accountable for their actions?

  • Can shows like this one really help viewers learn more about these kinds of problems and how to fix them? 

TV details

Cast:Dave Vitalli
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:Streaming

This review of My Dysfunctional Family was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass