From its opening scenes through to its conclusion, This Is Us was unlike any other family drama. It was complex, spanning decades of the Pearson clan's history, and it was complicated — both emotionally and relationally. This Is Us demanded commitment from its viewers, yet was accessible enough to draw one of network TV's largest audiences.
But now it's over. So what other shows can fill that Pearson-sized hole in your schedule, with a mixture of feel-good moments, challenging storylines and somewhat volatile family dynamics? We've got some ideas. All of these shows are currently available for streaming.
The Fosters (Prime Video, Hulu): This warm-hearted alt-family series follows the biological and foster children raised by two women in San Diego. It ran nearly as long as This Is Us (104 episodes), so if you missed it during its initial run on ABC Family, this will keep you occupied a while.
Queen Sugar (Hulu): A quietly powerful drama from Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13TH) about Black siblings in rural Louisiana that weaves the region’s troubled history into its storylines. DuVernay brings her customary eye for the complexities of Black American experience, allowing us to linger over details of the Southern, class-based society where the story unfolds.
Sorry for Your Loss (Facebook Watch): A woman tries to move on after the death of her husband in this unexpected gem that requires only a Facebook account to view.
This Way Up (Hulu): A bit darker than our other suggestions is this comedy created by and starring Irish comedian Aisling Bea as a woman recovering from a nervous breakdown. Her journey back from the brink is aided by her frustrated sister (played by Sharon Horgan) and her job tutoring a young boy.
Wanderlust (Netflix): The always watchable Toni Collette boosts this British series about a couple entering into an open marriage. Though many viewers may tune in to this comedy-drama for its exploration of polyamory, that's actually less interesting than watching Collette explore middle age.
Younger (Hulu, Paramount+): From Sex and the City creator Darren Star came this wonderful show about a woman chasing a job in the cutthroat (and ageist) publishing industry. Sutton Foster scored a triumph — sadly overlooked by most viewers at the time — for her portrayal of a 40-something mom passing as 20-something in order to reinvent her life.
Aaron Barnhart has written about television since 1994, including 15 years as TV critic for the Kansas City Star.
TOPICS: This Is Us, The Fosters, Queen Sugar, Sorry for Your Loss, This Way Up, Wanderlust, Younger