Missing the Pearsons? I got you.
With This Is Us coming to an end after Season 6, fans will soon face a TV season without the Pearsons or one of the most reliably emotionally cathartic hours on television. This Is Us' emoji on the Twitter hashtag was a tissue box for a good reason; the show's ability to pluck at heartstrings was unparalleled. But fans shouldn't fear that the television landscape will now become a dry-eyed wasteland of unfeeling. With the proliferation of streaming services, there are plenty of shows like This Is Us to stream if you're in desperate need of more crying sessions.
But the trick to This Is Us is that, despite its emotional ups and downs, not every episode is an absolute sobfest. For every loss, there is a win; for every heartbreak, the family comes out stronger. Even as the series makes us cry, it also gives us hope, either in our hearts or, in the case of the Pearsons, another beginning of a new generation.
With that winning formula in mind, these selections below are the right balance between heartwarming and tragic that you can watch from the comfort of your beds. So, throw on your comfy pants, get the popcorn ready, and check your tissue supply — it's time to cry.
1. Queen Sugar
Ava DuVernay's first foray into television since making a name for herself in movies is her Oprah co-produced series, Queen Sugar. The Louisiana-set series revolves around the lives of the three Bordelon siblings, Nova, Charlotte, and Ralph, who take over the family sugar plantation when their father unexpectedly dies. The series is notable for its take on Black lives in the U.S. and its woman-centered perspective. (Every episode so far has been directed by Black women.) All four seasons are streaming on Hulu, with Season 5 arriving later this summer.
2. Call the Midwife
The British period piece answer to Grey's Anatomy, Call the Midwife has been renewed so far in advance that it's already guaranteed 14 seasons. Like This Is Us, the show manages to bring out the ugly cry during what feels like every episode, but usually with a heartwarming upbeat resolution. Following a group of nuns and midwives in London's East End starting in the late 1950s, Call the Midwife explores endless aspects of childbirth, reproductive health, medicine, and society during the mid-20th century. It regularly celebrates women's strength and the power of family. All nine seasons are streaming on Netflix and the tenth debuts on PBS this fall.
This LGBTQ+ family story set in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, revolves around the Hernandez sisters, Emma and Lyn, who return to the old neighborhood when their mother, Vidalia, passes away. At the funeral, they realize their mother and her "roommate," Eddy, had been married for years. Also, Eddy now owns 30% of the family restaurant as well. Technically, it's billed as a comedy, but there's plenty of big feelings and tears as well as Lyn and Emma develop a relationship with the woman they never knew was their stepmother. All three seasons are streaming via STARZ on Amazon.
4. Firefly Lane
Based on the best-selling novel by Kristin Hannah, this story of Tully and Kate, best friends since they were 14, was a Netflix hit when it debuted in early 2021. Starring Katherine Heigl as Tully and Sarah Chalke as Kate, this generation-spanning story digs into the reality behind what it means to be best friends forever, as the women live through marriage, children, and divorce. Season 2 is already greenlit for more era-spanning adventures. Season 1 is streaming on Netflix.
5. Love (Ft. Marriage & Divorce)
Although most people think of romance when they think of K-dramas, the South Korean TV genre has family soaps as well. Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) is an ensemble series featuring the lives of three couples in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. The series stars Park Joo-mi, Lee Ga-ryeong, and Jeon Soo-kyeong as three women who work together on a successful radio program whose lives undergo ups and downs as their careers take off. This series already has a second season on the way, a rarity for K-dramas, which are usually one and done. The first season is streaming on Netflix.
6. The Fosters
The Fosters debuted on Freeform back when it was still ABC Family; it concluded in 2018. When we first met the Foster family, the loving home of an interracial, lesbian couple and the biological, adopted, and foster kids they're raising won fans over. In true Freeform fashion, the show became drastically more intense over time, but its longtime element of family loyalty stayed part of the show's core. All five seasons of The Fosters are streaming on Hulu.
7. One Day At A Time
The remake of the Norman Lear series from the 1970s updated the central family from a cishet, white, middle-class stereotype to a Cuban American family living a far more modern existence in the 21st century. The series stars Justina Machado as Penelope Francisca del Carmen Riera Inclán Ruiz Maribona de Alvarez, a U.S. Army veteran and the single matriarch of the family. The show ran three seasons on Netflix; the fourth and final season aired on Pop TV and is streaming on Paramount+..
Fans of This Is Us will know why this series gets a shoutout on the list — not just because it's a perfect family weeper for the TIU fan, but also because in-show, Kevin Pearson's almost-big-break came when he did a guest arc on it. In real life, the series focuses on a legendary country star moving past her professional prime and a new star with rising fame nipping at her heels. While it praises and highlights women who try their best in their careers, there are plenty of bombshells throughout the show that will have you wringing out your tissues. All six seasons are streaming on Hulu.
When Pose first debuted on FX, it was hailed as a groundbreaking series portraying Black and Hispanic transgender life in 1980s New York City at the height of the AIDS epidemic. But the real secret to Pose's success isn't about what makes it different, but that it is, at its heart, a family drama. Set in the Houses of Abundance and Evangelista, these found families, gathered together by "mothers" who take their children to compete in the underground ballroom scene, live all the same beats as any other family series. There are Thanksgiving episodes, very special episodes about sex, and a museum heist for the ages. What? All good family dramas have museum heists. Look it up. The first two seasons of Pose are streaming on Netflix.
10. A Million Little Things
Arriving one year after This Is Us debuted, ABC's family drama isn't quite the close-ended time loop of its NBC counterpart, nor is it limited to a single family's story. Instead, it's about a group of friends, including Eddie, Rome, Maggie, Regina, Katherine, and Gary, who have to cope when one of their friends dies by suicide. With three seasons under its belt, the story has become a swirling epic and a guaranteed good-feeling cryfest. All three seasons are streaming on Hulu.
11. Downton Abbey
If you missed this hit period drama the first time around, now is the time to catch up on what everyone and their mother loved five years ago. In the pilot, an aristocratic family in England must reach out to its distant heir when the direct successor dies in the 1912 sinking of the Titanic. What follows is years of the family and their servants experiencing scandal, heartbreak, romance, and gorgeous 1920s clothing. The series just returned to Netflix and all six seasons are available there. (Please note, though, the movie is streaming on HBO Max.)
Before there was This Is Us, Parenthood was the solution for anyone seeking a multi-generational family drama that put their tissues to good use. An elderly couple, their four grown children, their significant others, and several grandchildren all suddenly live in the same area again, just as everyone's lives take conveniently timed emotional turns. Unlike This Is Us, Parenthood doesn't do nostalgia-tinted flashbacks of the family's past, but it's perhaps even more realistic than This Is Us often is. All six seasons are streaming on Peacock.
But if, after all these shows, you just want the real deal, This Is Us is also streaming, with all five seasons on Hulu. The show’s final run of episodes, Season 6, is expected to premiere in 2022.
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