5 Family-Centric Shows to Check Out if You Love ‘This Is Us’

Cast of ABC’s “Speechless”

As fans of NBC’s tear-producing family drama “This Is Us” wait to see if it’s going to win the Emmy Award for outstanding drama on Sunday — or if that win could change the TV landscape — fans may be wondering if there’s anything like it out there.

Our newest Catholic-mom blogger, Adrienne Thorne, has some suggestions. Take it away, Adrienne…

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that I’m not the only one kind of counting down the days until NBC’s “This Is Us” returns on Tuesday, Sept. 26. What I loved most about the show’s first season was importance it places on family in one’s life — kind of a rare quality in today’s TV landscape.

Or is it?

Statistically speaking, probably. But there are at least a few good choices out there you can watch for a happy helping of family togetherness wrapped in a 22-or 43-minute package.

“Parenthood”

If you’re a fan of “This Is Us,” you’ve probably heard it compared to “Parenthood.” Starring Lauren Graham (Lorelai from “Gilmore Girls”), “Parenthood” is a light drama that is very much about family.

The series begins when Lauren Graham’s character moves herself and her two teenage kids back home to live with her parents and near her three adult siblings. Despite a bit more sexual material than you’d find in “This Is Us,” it’s still a pretty uplifting show with a strong emphasis on the importance of familial love. Take a look at the trailer:

“Malcolm in the Middle”

This one’s a little bit older but still a great choice (and available streaming on Netflix!). You might not think of a comedy as something with similar family themes, but this show about a genius teenage boy (played by Frankie Muniz) in a slightly eccentric family of four boys is actually very family-centric.

Highlights include a pretty good portrayal of marriage between his parents and a lot of lighthearted fun. Low points include some occasional sexual material that might make the show unsuitable for younger members of the family. Read my full review here.

“The Wonder Years”

A coming-of age-sitcom starring Fred Savage (aired in the late ’80s, but set in the ’60s). This one’s not entirely about family, as Savage’s character navigates the rocky waters of middle school drama and friendships, but his family issues play a strong part in his maturation. This show actually surprised me quite a bit with unexpected depth and feels, especially since it’s rather on the older side.

Currently available streaming on Netflix, but hurry if you want to watch it because it leaves in October!

“Life in Pieces”

A current Monday-night sitcom on CBS, “Life in Pieces” — returning for its third season on Thursday, Nov. 2 — reminds me of a comedy version of “Parenthood.” It’s about three adult siblings who live in close proximity to each other and their aging parents. This show is often quite hilarious but does suffer from more crudity than I’d like to see (or technically hear, since most of it is of the dialogue/joke nature). The good thing, though, is that in addition to having an emphasis on the importance of family in your life, this show also has quite a few moments where elements that I thought were going somewhere immoral turned around into a good message, in a pretty clever way. Read my full review here.

“Speechless”

I’ve saved my favorite for last. “Speechless” is a current ABC sitcom — returning for a second season on Wednesday, Sept. 27 — starring Minnie Driver about a family with a special-needs son, who is unable to talk because of his cerebral palsy. Personally I don’t think the premise necessarily sounds super-fun, and yet the execution is top-notch. In other words, it’s absolutely hilarious, not to mention very pro-family, pro-life, and even pretty clean.

I would say this show is a pretty rare gem in today’s TV landscape, and I’m kind of holding my breath for season two, hoping against hope that it stays this good. Read my full review here.

Image: Courtesy ABC

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  • Bethany Swanson

    Thanks for the suggestions, it’s always hard to find a good show to watch!

  • Chloe Mooradian

    Oh man – adding these to my growing list of shows to watch! I’ve heard great things about “Malcom in the Middle”!

  • Anne Kidder

    Thanks for the suggestions. I enjoyed watching The Wonder Years. Glad to see it is on Netflix now.

  • Kelly Nugent

    Definitely adding these shows to my watch list! Thanks for sharing!