Quick: name any reality TV family that has emerged from the genre not only unscathed, but actually better for having bared their lives on TV.
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Then you haven’t been watching WE’s “Downsized,” in which the Bruces of Arizona try to manage the titular downsizing after the father’s contracting business tanked along with the economy.
The Bruces — a “Brady Bunch”-ish blended family made up of dad Todd, mom Laura and seven kids from previous marriages — lost their business, home and all the dinners out and other lifestyle habits they enjoyed when Todd’s business was booming.
The series, which ends its second season tonight, has followed the family through some extreme belt-tightening, multiple moves and a whole education in the many ways to cut costs and save money, which they’ve successfully done on camera. Medical emergencies and unexpected expenses continue to eat away at the Bruces’ financial security, but they always manage to pick themselves up and forge ahead with a hopeful attitude.
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Far wealthier families — the Osbournes, the Hogans, the Bonaduces, a chunk of “Real Housewives” cast members — haven’t weathered personal dramas and reality TV attention nearly as well as the Bruces, who only seem to be closer since working out their issues on the tube. And the family’s teens are among the most endearing on TV, real or fiction.
In tonight’s season ender, the family deals with daughter Bailey’s boyfriend and the fact that the creep’s latest date with the sweet teen ended with her covered in bruises.
Meanwhile, the family’s precarious financial situation rears its ugly head again when brother Rex considers moving away — by himself — to qualify for a college scholarship.
“Downsized” airs 9 p.m. Tuesday on WE.