5 Family-Themed TV Shows to Watch After ‘Parenthood’
NBC’s family drama Parenthood is coming to an end this month after a six-season run. With the emotional final season wrapping up on January 29, fans of the show are bracing themselves to say goodbye to the Braverman clan once and for all. If you’re already worried about how you’re going to fill the Parenthood void, here are 5 other family-themed series to give a try.
1. Friday Night Lights
Adapted from the book and the feature film of the same name, this drama follows the story of a high school football team in the small, close-knit community of Dillon, Texas, as well as that of team coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and his wife Tami (Connie Britton) and teen daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden). As the Taylor family struggles to juggle their personal and professional lives, they must also deal with the challenges of living in a small town, including racism, drugs, and economic struggles.
Though the show was canceled after five seasons, the show has been widely lauded by critics for its realistic portrayal of small town life in Middle America and earned multiple Emmy nominations (as well as several wins) throughout its time on air. It was written and executive produced by Jason Katims, who then went on to develop Parenthood, and many viewers of both shows have pointed out the similarities between the show—including the many overlapping cast members or guest stars and similar themes of family values. If you’re looking for to fill your Parenthood void with another small but well-written show that will tug at your heartstrings, this is it.
2. Life Unexpected
Set in Portland, this short-lived series follows the story of Lux Cassidy (Britt Robertson), a teenager who was given up at birth and has spent her almost her entire life in foster care. On her 16th birthday, she decides it’s time to become an emancipated minor, but must get signatures from her biological parents, Nate Bazile (Kristoffer Polaha) and Cate Cassidy (Shiri Appleby). Instead of granting her emancipation, a judge decides to give temporary custody to the birth parents she’s just rediscovered, forcing the reunited family to finally get to know each other.
Though the series only ran for two seasons on the CW, it received generally favorable reviews from critics, drawing comparisons to shows like Gilmore Girls and Everwood. The show is well-acted and features plenty of smart dialogue, which may appeal to fans of Parenthood, and also provides an insightful look at the dynamics between a bright but unsettled teen and her real parents.
3. Brothers & Sisters
The ABC drama, which ran from 2006 to 2011, revolves around the lives and problems of the wealthy Walker family following the death of family patriarch William Walker (Tom Skerritt), the founder of the family business Ojai Foods. The family consists of wife and mother Nora Walker (Sally Field) and her children Sarah (Rachel Griffiths), Tommy (Balthazar Getty), Kitty (Calista Flockhart), Kevin (Matthew Rhys), and Justin (Dave Annable). The series follows as the family learns secrets about their recently deceased dad and chronicles the events of their personal, political, and professional lives.
Like Parenthood, the critically acclaimed show (which earned multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations during the course of its time on air) doesn’t hold back on the feels, taking viewers on an emotional and often moving ride.
4. Blue Bloods
The CBS drama, which debuted in 2010, revolves around the Reagans, an All-American Irish-Catholic family, a multigenerational family of cops within the NYPD. Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) is the patriarch of the family and New York City Police Commissioner, while his children also serve the public good in some way — either as a police detective, a public attorney or a police officer. His late son Joe also served as a police officer before he was killed on duty. While each of the family members is busy with their respective cases, they still sit down to Sunday dinners, during which they discuss their weeks.
While there are obviously police procedural aspects to the show, the most compelling part of the series is the family element. The Reagans may be a family full of cops, but they are still a family with relatable problems and the same sibling rivalry you can find at Sunday night dinners anywhere.
5. Gilmore Girls
Fans of Parenthood star Lauren Graham should tune into her previous show, another family-oriented series in which she also plays a single mom. The show follows Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory as they face romantic, school, and career-related problems in the quirky but charming small town of Stars Hollow, Conn., also chronicles the latter’s move from a public high school to an exclusive private school to Yale University.
It’s hard not to feel like you know Lorelai, Rory, and the rest of the Stars Hollow residents personally, even after only a few episodes. And though the show features plenty of genuinely emotional moments, the comedy drama is also jam-packed with pop culture references, fast-paced dialogue, and snappy one-liners that makes it easy to binge watch — which is a good thing, as the entire series of Gilmore Girls is available for streaming on Netflix now.