It doesn't matter if the father is absentee or living his dreams vicariously through his children. Similarly, it doesn't matter if the mother is a shrewish gossip or a charming, plucky gal doing her best to get by. No matter what, there will be an awkward family dinner.
Freaks and Geeks mastered this kind of scene, so you'd think that other shows would bow down, but no, awkward meals remain a staple of teen television. The lesser cousin of the awkward dinner scene is the rushed breakfast as the family gets ready to start their day and dumps much needed exposition—also an essential teen drama staple.