Sometimes you just want a show that will make you laugh, make you cry, and keep you coming back week to week. From 2010 until 2015, NBC’s Parenthood was that show. The series followed the Braverman siblings as they grappled with becoming parents themselves and their family dynamics in a smart adaptation of the 1989 film of the same name. Starring Lauren Graham, Peter Krause, Dax Shepard, Monica Potter, Mae Whitman, Erika Christensen, Sam Jaeger, Savannah Paige Rae, and Max Burkholder, among others, the series was a primetime hit with fans — even if it was a saccharine view of the world. But that sentimentality is one of the draws of the series, and it’s hard to find another that’s just quite like it. Even so, there are shows like Parenthood out there that get pretty close to doing the trick.
Of the appeal of Parenthood, Time wrote in its 2010 review of the then-new series, “There are, obviously, a lot of problems, but what the show is really selling is an almost utopian fantasy: the idea of a big, supportive family, all situated in the same city, offering physical and emotional support and available for heart-to-heart lunches, ball games and big outdoor meals with ping-pong. (One of the many little things this show gets about parenting is that its dearest fantasy is the availability of multiple free babysitters).”
So, if you miss the Bravermans’ zany brand of wholesome, dysfunctional, and ultimately heartwarming family dynamics, here’s where to start.
Realistic Family Dramedies Like Parenthood
1. Blue Bloods (2010- )
OK, this might seem cheesy, but this CBS drama about a family of cops is actually really similar to Parenthood. Much like the Bravermens, the Reagans are a tight-knit family… but not without their issues. Also like Parenthood, there are weekly family dinners and everyone seemingly never left the town they grew up in, adding to that “utopian” family ideal that Time criticized Parenthood for. Also, there are a ton of seasons, so you can almost never run out of episodes.
2. Gentefied (2020-2021)
This Netflix series is about a Mexican family whose matriarch has long since passed, and the father still runs a local, yet failing, restaurant. As the siblings do their best to save the family business amid the gentrification of their Los Angeles neighborhood, they mend old wounds and create new ones, all while remaining as close as possible. That’s family, right?
3. The Fosters (2013-2018)
This Freeform drama is quintessentially family-friendly. The show is about the Fosters (obviously), a family helmed by two women. As one of the first shows on television to feature a same-sex parental unit, the show tackles a lot of issues of the day without being too preachy. And it proves that all families, no matter their makeup, are bound by love.
4. A Million Little Things (2018- )
Some people have families, and other people have chosen families. This ABC series is about one of those. When Jon (played by Ron Livingston) dies by suicide, his best friends come together to help his wife grieve and move on. The show’s first season includes a little bit of mystery surrounding his affairs (both business and otherwise), but as it progresses, it’s really just about how a community of friends takes care of each other just as well as any biological family would.
5. Brothers & Sisters (2006-2011)
This 2006 series is sort of the precedent for Parenthood, as you can likely tell by the name. The show ran for five seasons and won many awards throughout its run. The series — starring Sally Field as Nora Walker, Rachel Griffiths as Sarah, Calista Flockhart as Kitty, Balthazar Getty as Tommy, Matthew Rhys as Kevin, and Dave Annable as Justin Walker — centers on how the Walker family deals in the wake of their father’s death as they also run their family food distribution company. Prepare to cry, a lot.
6. Switched at Birth (2011-2017)
Two teenagers receive surprising news that they've been switched at birth. It turns out that the families they've grown up in are not the families they were born into. This new information turns each family upside down, and when the Vasquez’s and Kennish’s worlds collide, it creates a boom of drama. Together, this unconventional family gets a little bigger (and crazier).
More Shows Like Parenthood You Need in Your Life
- This Is Us (2016- )
- Vida (2018-2020)
- Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)
- The Middle (2009-2018)
- Six Feet Under (2001-2005)
- Modern Family (2009-2020)
- The Wonder Years (2021- )
- Workin’ Moms (2017- )
- Casual (2015-2018)
- Chesapeake Shores (2016- )
- Black-ish (2014-2022)
- Little Fires Everywhere (2020)
- Raising Hope (2010-2014)
- Playing House (2014-2017)
- Better Things (2016-2022)
- Good Girls (2008-2021)
- Party of Five (1994-2000)
- The A Word (2016- )
- United States of Tara (2009-2011)
- Sweet Magnolias (2020- )
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