5 shows to watch if you love ‘This Is Us’

THIS IS US -- "The Big Three" Episode 102 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Mackenzie Hancsicsak as Kate, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Parker Bates as Kevin, Lonnie Chavis as Randall -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)
THIS IS US -- "The Big Three" Episode 102 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Mackenzie Hancsicsak as Kate, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Parker Bates as Kevin, Lonnie Chavis as Randall -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC) /
facebooktwitterreddit
THIS IS US — “The Big Three” Episode 102 — Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Mackenzie Hancsicsak as Kate, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Parker Bates as Kevin, Lonnie Chavis as Randall — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)
THIS IS US — “The Big Three” Episode 102 — Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Mackenzie Hancsicsak as Kate, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Parker Bates as Kevin, Lonnie Chavis as Randall — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC) /

Can’t get enough of ‘This Is Us’? Here are five more family-oriented shows to watch when you need a hit of that Pearson-esque pride.

More from This Is Us

This Is Us stole the hearts of millions from the second that twisty pilot ending reduced the world to a puddle of tears. Since then, the series has been a consistent player in primetime, earning 11 Emmy nominations and absolutely slaying in the ratings. In such a short amount of time, the NBC series has been inducted as an instant classic, a show people will adore for years and generations.

But sometimes, we need to take a break from the relentless tears and feels of This Is Us and welcome the tears and feels of other television series. For those days when you’re in the mood for that familiar brand of cathartic emotion and unique relatablility, we have rounded up a diverse collection of laughers and tear-jerkers alike to stoke the hope, humor, and heartbreak of the Pearson clan’s expansive story. From Parenthood to Playing House, you will most definitely feel the family-oriented love with this collection of series with similar themes to This Is Us.

If you’re weathering an awful This Is Us withdrawal or need an extra dose of that feel-good family drama-rama, find your next favorite show to binge and quite possibly cry over. Here are the best shows to add to your watch list if you love This Is Us. Let us know in the comments which of these selections you will be checking out and which shows are you4 go-to This Is Us stand-ins!

1. Parenthood

Seasons: 6

Created By: Jason Katims

Starring: Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Dax Shepard, Monica Potter, Erika Christensen, Sam Jaeger, Savannah Paige Rae, Sarah Ramos, Max Burkholder, Joy Bryant, Miles Heizer, Mae Whitman, Tyree Brown, Xolo Mariduena, Bonnie Bedelia, Craig T. Nelson

Where to watch: Netflix

What’s it about? In the same exact vein as This Is Us, NBC’s former family drama crown jewel tells the story of a family, except in real time. Also, the Bravermans are a much larger clan than the Pearsons, and they weren’t nearly as high-rated as the new kids on the block. Parenthood follows adult siblings Adam (Peter Krause), Sarah (Lauren Graham), Crosby (Dax Shepard), and Julia (Erika Christensen) as they attempt to raise their own families. They’re large, loud, and loving through every up and down characteristic of the wilderness known as parenthood.

Will it make you cry? How do we put this gently but also drive home the explicit urgency? The tears shed from Parenthood’s six seasons provided the rolling river on which This Is Us rode into NBC’s primetime lineup. Between Kristina’s (Monica Potter) cancer battle in Season 4 to Amber’s (Mae Whitman) brush with death in Season 2, the “you’re gonna need to buy stock in Kleenex” jokes were practically born during Parenthood’s underrated run. If you love crying with the Pearsons each week on This Is Us, you will fall head over heels for the Bravermans!

2. Life Unexpected

Seasons: 2

Created By: Liz Tigelaar

Starring: Britt Robertson, Shiri Appleby, Kristoffer Polaha, Austin Basis, Kerr Smith, Arielle Kebbel

Where to watch: Netflix

What’s it about? When a show is touted as “Gilmore Girls meets Juno,” those are a pair of iconic shoes to fill. But The CW’s criminally short-lived series Life Unexpected slipped those suckers on, walked a mile in them, and wore them into something all its own. The series follows 16-year-old Lux (Britt Robertson) as she seeks to become emancipated from the birth parents she has never met in order to be released from the foster system. In doing so, she winds up in the custody of her bio ‘rents Cate (Shiri Appleby) and Baze (Kristoffer Polaha), and a weird little family is born.

Will it make you cry? In short, yes. However, depending on how you react to heartwarming and uplifting stories, Life Unexpected won’t make you cry as often as This Is Us. But its story of three estranged family members coming together to form a new family unit is enough to get the pessimists misty. Obviously, learning to operate in the normal rhythms of a family doesn’t come easily, but once they figure it out, you’ll be a goner at the love they uncover for each other. The series finale, which shouldn’t have been its series finale, brings the emotional heat with a full circle conclusion to Lux’s search for stability.

3. Party of Five

Seasons: 6

Created By: Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman

Starring: Scott Wolf, Matthew Fox, Neve Campbell, Lacey Chabert, Scott Grimes, Paula Devicq, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Michael Goorjian, Alexondra Lee, Jeremy London, Jennifer Aspen

Where to watch: Netflix, Hulu

What’s it about? In a sense, Party of Five’s logline makes This Is Us look like child’s play. When their parents are killed in a car accident by a drunk driver, the five Salinger siblings must come together to support each other and survive the already choppy waters of coming of age. Bailey (Scott Wolf), Julia (Neve Campbell), Claudia (Lacey Chabert), and Owen fall under the care of their 20-something brother Charlie (Matthew Fox), but their individuality and independence makes them butt heads as they grieve their immense loss.

Will it make you cry? It goes without saying that the basic premise of a quintet of siblings being orphaned will inspire a flood of tears. Party of Five could sometimes dip into melodramatic monologues and After School Special-esque storylines, but it was also an incredibly honest and human story about the power and strength of family, something super characteristic of fellow tear-jerker This Is Us. And you just know that when Rebecca Pearson wasn’t watching ER, she was hanging on every last word of Party of Five and singing along to “Closer to Free.”

4. 13 Reasons Why

Seasons: 1

Created By: Brian Yorkey

Starring: Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Christian Navarro, Alisha Boe, Brandon Flynn, Justin Prentice, Miles Heizer, Ross Butler, Devin Druid, Amy Hargreaves, Derek Luke, Kate Walsh

Where to watch: Netflix

What’s it about? By now, you have almost certainly heard of and maybe even watched Netflix’s zeitgeist-piercing controversial darling 13 Reasons Why. From executive producer Selena Gomez and based on the novel of the same name, the teen drama picks up in the aftermath of Hannah Baker’s (Katherine Langford) suicide. She left behind 13 cassette tapes outlining her decision to take her own life, which Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) listens to and unpacks in spite of the dangerous consequences.

Will it make you cry? 100%. The Netflix original series quickly became known for its clumsy conversation-starting narrative, including its graphic representations of rape and suicide in the context of adolescence. Of course, these are themes This Is Us doesn’t touch on. 13 Reasons Why’s story, in a lot of ways, is much more grave than that of This Is Us since it’s often hard to watch and, subsequently, forget. Still, both series share thematic elements and the common thread of completely pulling the viewer in and never letting go.

5. Playing House

Seasons: 3

Creators: Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair

Starring: Lennon Parham, Jessica St. Clair, Keegan-Michael Key, Brad Morris, Zach Woods, Jane Kaczmarek, Lindsay Sloane

Where to watch: VOD and USA.com

What’s it about? You didn’t think we would compile a list of series similar to This Is Us and not include a comedy, did you? It’s a given that there a ton of family-oriented sitcoms. There’s no shortage of comedy series about the everyday complexities of family life. However, few truly tackle the warts-and-all, laughter-through-tears account of building a family from the ground up like Playing House. When Maggie (Lennon Parham) discovers her husband cheating, her best friend Emma (Jessica St. Clair) movies in to help raise Maggie’s baby daughter. Together, they navigate the intricacies of becoming a family.

Will it make you cry? In its first two seasons, Playing House stuck to “laughing until you cry” territory. But with its just-wrapped third season, the sitcom broke new ground by employing “crying until you laugh” sensibilities. Emma’s breast cancer diagnosis, which mirrors St. Clair’s own recent battle with the Big C, tests the humor of the series in challenging but ultimately rewarding ways. You haven’t seen a more beautiful, funny, or poignant story told by real-life besties. The consistent laughs and honesty of Playing House are the perfect antidote to the all-encompassing tear-shedding of This Is Us. You need it in your life.

Which shows similar to This Is Us will you be checking out? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter at @thisisuscrying!