The best shows to catch up with after ‘Parenthood’
It may never have gotten blockbuster ratings, but more and more people continue to discover Parenthood now that the show is streaming. The acclaimed drama series lasted six seasons, and followed the Braverman family as they dealt with love and loss, and most importantly, raised their children.
The show was remarkably successful in part because of the honest way it managed to capture what it really feels like to be a parent. It can be frustrating, annoying, and exhausting, but it’s also deeply rewarding. Parenthood is a show about family that will make you cry, but once you’re finished with it, these shows may be able to fill the hole it leaves behind.
This Is Us
If any show picked up where Parenthood left off, it was This Is Us. The plotting on This Is Us may be a little more complicated than Parenthood, but both shows follow a single family across multiple generations. Splitting its time between the 1980s, when two triplets and one adopted son are all growing up, and the present day, when those three kids are all adults, This Is Us is known for making its viewers weepy on a regular basis. Although not every storyline is a home run, it’s pretty compelling throughout.
A lighthearted comedy that’s not afraid of getting real, Speechless follows a single family with three children, the eldest of which, J.J, is nonverbal and confined to a wheelchair. Speechless is often riotously funny, thanks in part to Minnie Driver’s pitch perfect performance as a mother who is fiercely protective of her children. The family at the heart of the show is deeply strange for reasons entirely unrelated to J.J., and it’s consistently great because of its deep love for each and every character.
Friday Night Lights
Friday Night Lights was the show Jason Katims made prior to Parenthood, and it has many of the hallmarks of Parenthood. The show is set in a quiet Texas town whose constituents live for high school football season, and follows the coach of the Dillon Panthers, his family, and key members of the team as they live their lives. It’s a show about connection and family, and one that ultimately earns the sense of sincerity that is so often its defining feature. Friday Night Lights has no shortage of heart.
Gilmore Girls is a great follow-up to Parenthood because it exists on similar terrain. Parenthood is certainly more grounded in reality, but both shows are ultimately about how generations within a single family deal with one another and grow because of their connections. Gilmore Girls is much more frenetic and whimsical, but it doesn’t skimp on the drama, and it’s the role that Lauren Graham will always be remembered for.
Life in Pieces
While it may be in the Parenthood mold, Life in Pieces breaks the mold of the family drama in how it tells its stories. The series follows three generations of the Short family in Los Angeles, but each episode is broken into four segments, each of which is a short story focused on a specific member of the family. Typically, the last short story in the episode ties the other three together, with often funny and occasionally moving results.
Parenthood could be remarkably frank about the struggles of having kids, but Better Things may be an even more unflinching portrayal of what raising children is like. The show tells the story of Sam Fox, mother of three daughters, who is also a working actress in L.A. Over the course of its remarkable run, creator Pamela Adlon has earned consistent praise for her ability to tell bracing, funny stories that are remarkably honest about what it’s like to be a single mother.
Brothers & Sisters
A show whose run overlapped with Parenthood’s, Brothers & Sisters may be the most direct one-to-one comparison to the show. The series tells the story of one sprawling family held together by a single matriarch, and the struggles that each member of that family goes through. It tended to be slightly more melodramatic than Parenthood, but thanks in part to a wonderful central performance from Sally Field, it never felt like too much.
As We See It
Another show from Parenthood creator Jason Katims, As We See It has only released a single season, but it’s already proving to be a sweet, wholesome show very much in the Parenthood vein. The series follows three adult roommates on the autism spectrum just trying to make it through their daily lives. As We See It is tender and gentle, but it thoroughly humanizes all of its characters, allowing them to behave badly without ever becoming unsympathetic.
Canceled too soon, Suburgatory is a story about the relationship between a single dad and his daughter. The show follows the pair after the dad decides to move them to suburbia in the hopes of finding his daughter better role models, only to discover her utter disdain for her surroundings. The show is smart about how hard it can be for parents and children to communicate, and it also managed to be sometimes shockingly funny.
Younger is a high concept show set in New York City, but it has the same gentleness and warmth that defined much of Parenthood’s run. The series tells the story a 40-ish woman living in New York who wants to get into publishing, and decides the easiest way to do that is to pretend she is actually much younger. Although the secret at the heart of the series allows for plenty of hi-jinks, at its core, Younger is a show about falling in and out of love, amid the backdrop of New York City.