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25 of the Best Emotional Shows Like This Is Us to Watch

These are the top shows to watch when you miss "This Is Us!"

TV SHOWS LIKE THIS IS US

Shows Like This Is Us Featured image with a collage of three shows: Chasing Life, This Is Us, and Pachinko
Photo: Chasing Life (Disney–ABC), This is Us (NBC), and Pachinko (Apple).

This Is Us has been an audience favorite (and critical darling) for six seasons, and for a good reason. The popular drama series tells the story of Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca Pearson (Mandy Moore) and their three children, known as the Big Three (Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, and Justin Hartley).

The multigenerational tale spans decades – mainly from the 1960s to the near future – but episodes flashback to the early 20th century.

With its exceptional writing, brilliant performances, epic romances, and surprising twists, viewers can’t help but keep watching!

But this isn’t just a drama about a fictional family; it’s a series about all of us. We’re meant to find people who reflect ourselves and the people we know with each story and character.

Perhaps it’s, for this reason, that the family drama resonates so profoundly.

RELATED: The Top 50 Best New Period Dramas of 2021

While it’s a realistic family drama, it is even more interesting that the writers wrote the episodes with poetic language rather than extreme realism. This literary approach is what has given the production such an emotional punch.

this is us jack and rebecca
Jack and Rebecca Pearson. Photo: NBC

Sadly, however, after six seasons on the air (first premiering in 2016), This Is Us is ending. And in only a couple of weeks, we’ll all have to say goodbye to the Pearson family forever when the final season finishes airing.

Thankfully, many other brilliant series full of emotion are available to watch to fill the void after it’s gone. I’ve compiled a list of familiar favorites and a few hidden gems, all with similarities to This Is Us.

So, if you’re looking for similar content that will make you laugh, cry and everything in between, here are 25 of the best shows like This Is Us to watch.

NOTE: The availability of the titles listed below can change at any time. Availability of where to watch is in the U.S. and was last updated in August 2022.


25 SHOWS LIKE THIS IS US TO WATCH

(IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)


#1 Being Erica (2009-2011)

Being Erica promo image
Being Erica. Credit: Temple Street Productions/BBC Worldwide

The Story: Being Erica unfolds the life of Erica Strange (Erin Karpluk), a woman in her early thirties who is unhappy with her life. After she visits a mysterious therapist, Dr. Tom (Michael Riley), he allows her to go back in time and relive some of her biggest regrets.

Similarities: Being Erica is a heartwarming romantic dramedy that explores life through a few decades.

Sure, time travel is involved, but if nostalgic comfort is what you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with this Canadian series.

It has family drama, romantic entanglements, characters dealing with grief, etc. Ultimately, both have complex characters and storylines with plenty of twists and turns.

Content Note: TV-14 for sensuality and nudity. A few episodes verge on TV-MA.

Where to Watch: Stream on Hulu, The Roku Channel, Crackle, Plex, and Hoopla. You can also buy the series on Digital (Vudu, Apple TV) and DVD.

#2 Brothers & Sisters (2006-2011)

Brothers and Sisters promo image
Brothers & Sisters. Credit: Berlanti Television/Disney-ABC

The Story: Brothers and Sisters is about the Walker family, including the mother, Nora Walker, and her five adult children.

After the loss of her husband and their father, the family members must grapple with running the family business and their complicated personal lives.

Similarities: Brothers and Sisters is another series about a large, complex family. It’s full of drama, romance, and sibling rivalry. The series tackles solemn topics like illness, grief, and betrayal like This Is Us. It also has a political angle.

But it has its lighter moments and gives you the full range of emotions when watching – from laughter to tears.

Calista Flockhart, Sally Field, Matthew Rhys, Rachel Griffiths, and more star in Brothers and Sisters

Content Note: TV-PG for mild love scenes and language.

Where to Watch: Stream on Hulu and The Roku Channel. You can also buy the series on Digital and DVD.

#3 Call the Midwife (2012-)

Jenny (both ages) in Call the Midwife.
Jenny (both ages) in Call the Midwife. Credit: BBC/Nealstreet Productions

The Story: Call the Midwife takes place in East London in the late 1950s and 1960s. It follows a group of midwives who work in the city. They must regularly contend with poverty, illness, and loss as they also deal with their personal lives.

Similarities: While Call the Midwife was initially inspired by the memoirs of Jennifer Worth and This Is Us is entirely fictional, the literary writing style of both is similar. 

Call the Midwife looks back nostalgically at times now gone by and reveals the connections between the past and the present (an older and wiser Jenny Worth narrating).

Both also have an element of tragedy, as mortality and illness are frequent topics. But Call the Midwife is ultimately uplifting and reveals the strength of human relationships in adversity.

There are lots of good love stories too! If you love Jack Pearson, you should love Dr. Patrick Turner and his wife, Shelagh. He’s the ideal husband and father.

Content Note: TV-PG/TV-14 for mature themes, graphic childbirth scenes, and mild language.

Where to Watch: Stream on Netflix (10 seasons) and Hoopla (7 seasons). New seasons air on PBS and stream on PBS Passport. You can also buy the seasons on Digital and DVD.

#4 Chasing Life (2014-2015)

Chasing Life season 1 promo image
Chasing Life, season 1. Credit: Disney-ABC

The Story: Chasing Life tells the story of April Carver (Italia Ricci), an aspiring journalist in her twenties. After she is diagnosed with leukemia, she must learn to cope with her illness while also dealing with her personal life.

Similarities: Chasing Life is very similar to This Is Us in tone and drama. Both shows explore what life means when faced with hardship.

Chasing Life is an excellent example of the This Is Us quote, “There’s no lemon so sour that you can’t make something resembling lemonade.” 

It’s a beautiful romantic/family drama about a young woman learning to appreciate life and live it to her fullest. You won’t want to miss the beautiful and heartbreaking love story between April and Leo, another cancer patient.

Content Note: TV-14 for sensuality, language, and mature themes.

Where to Watch: Hulu streaming service or buy on Digital and DVD.

#5 Downton Abbey (2010-2015)

Downton Abbey promo image
Downton Abbey. Credit: ITV/Carnival Films/WGBH-TV

The Story: Downton Abbey begins in early 20th century England and follows the lives of the Crawley family and their servants.

Similarities: Like This Is Us, Downton Abbey is a drama that covers several years – following the lives of one family and the people connected to them.

It deals with love, loss, war, social change, and sibling rivalry. While Downton Abbey also deals more with classism and is set at a different time, it has all the emotional drama you could want. Downton Abbey is always a great choice if you’re looking for a drama to binge-watch.

And don’t forget to watch the two movies!

Content Note: TV-PG for thematic elements, mild sensuality, violence, and language.

Where to Watch Downton AbbeyStream on Netflix, Britbox, Peacock, Amazon Prime Video, Roku, PBS Passport, and buy on Digital and DVD.

#6 Everwood (2002-2006)

The cast of Everwood.
The cast of Everwood. Credit: Warner Bros. Television

The Story: A famous brain surgeon moves his two children from New York City to Everwood, Colorado, after the tragic loss of his wife.

Similarities: Everwood celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and out of all the shows on this list, Everwood is my top recommendationIt has romance, brilliant writing, rich characters, and heartwarming stories. It’s the closest thing emotionally to This Is Us.

You’ll laugh, cry, and want to watch the television series again and again. It also has a memorable cast – including a young Chris Pratt. Keep your eyes peeled for great guest stars like James Earl Jones and Betty White.

Another aspect about Everwood that makes it similar to This Is Us – is the feeling of looking back to understand the future.

While Everwood only has limited flashbacks, it does have emotional narration from the future (maybe in heaven) looking back at this time and this place and this family, giving it a period drama feel while still being set in contemporary times.

Everwood is all about good storytelling – just like This Is Us.

Content Note: TV-PG for thematic elements, mild language, and mild sensuality.

Where to Watch: Stream on HBO Max or buy on Digital or DVD.

#7 Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)

Coach Eric Taylor and Tami Taylor.
Coach Eric Taylor and Tami Taylor. Credit: NBC Universal

The Story: Friday Night Lights is a drama that portrays the life stories of the best high school football team in the country and their head coach, Eric Taylor.

Similarities: If you’re looking for a character-driven drama with heart and good writing, look no further than the popular TV series Friday Night Lights. If you love Jack and Rebecca, you’ll love Coach Taylor and his wife, Tami.

Content Note: TV-14 for adult themes, sensuality, and mild language.

Where to Watch: Stream on Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, and the Roku Channel. Rent/buy on Digital and DVD.

#8 Gilmore Girls (2000-2007; 2016)

The cast of Gilmore Girls.
The cast of Gilmore Girls. Credit: Warner Bros. Television

The Story: Gilmore Girls is a multigenerational romantic dramedy about a young mother, Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), and her teen daughter living in the idyllic Connecticut town, Stars Hollow.

Similarities: Family relationships and romantic entanglements take center stage in this excellent family series. With snappy dialogue and a young Milo Ventimiglia playing an essential love interest, Gilmore Girls is must-see entertainment for This Is Us fans.

A few of the best couples include Luke and Lorelai, Jess and Rory, and Sookie and Jackson.

It also has a way with words – much like This Is Us does – even if the style is wittier than it is thought-provoking. Still, both shows are full of nostalgia as families work through their issues to become a stronger unit. 

After watching Gilmore Girls, don’t forget to watch the later limited series of Gilmore Girls from 2016.

Content Note: TV-PG for language and sensuality.

Where to Watch: Stream on Netflix or buy on Digital and DVD.

#9 Grey’s Anatomy (2005-)

Grey's Anatomy promo image
The Grey’s Anatomy cast in the early seasons. Credit: ABC

The Story: Grey’s Anatomy is a romantic medical drama focused on the lives of surgical interns and doctors at a hospital in Seattle.

Similarities: Both shows tug on the heartstrings in all the right ways! Grey’s Anatomy has shocking stories, tragedies, epic love stories, beautiful friendships, and complex family and personal dynamics.

There’s a reason it is still going strong today. But if you’re looking for an emotional series with lots of romance and twists, Grey’s Anatomy is a great choice.

Content Note: TV-14 for sensuality, language, and violence.

Where to Watch: Stream past seasons on Netflix or buy on Digital and DVD. You can also watch new episodes on ABC and Hulu.

#10 Joan of Arcadia (2003-2005)

Joan of Arcadia cast
Joan of Arcadia cast. Credit: CBS/Sony Pictures

The Story: The name gives it away, but Joan of Arcadia presents the life of a teenage girl who receives visits from God (in different disguises), guiding her to help other people.

Similarities: While it’s part procedural in a Touched by an Angel way, Joan of Arcadia is also a family drama like This Is Us with realistic storylines and relatable characters.

This hidden and overlooked gem (despite receiving four Emmy nominations – including for Outstanding Drama Series) deserves more recognition. It’s an uplifting but emotional series you won’t regret watching.

Content Note: TV-PG

Where to Watch: Buy on DVD.

#11 Lost (2004-2010)

Lost promo image
Season 2 cast of Lost. Credit: Bad Robot/ABC/Touchstone

The Story: When a plane smashes into a mysterious (and seemingly deserted) tropical island, the survivors must work together to survive.

Similarities: Lost and This Is Us don’t have much in common on the surface. But that’s a good description of Lost in and of itself: everything is not as it seems.

Like This Is Us, Lost incorporates flashbacks and flashforwards to tell a complete story while also using the element of surprise.

You’ll find complicated family dynamics, memorable love stories, surprising friendships, spiritual elements, and a story that spans generations.

Both are emotional, character-driven stories despite one being a family drama and the other a sci-fi/fantasy series.

Content Note: TV-14 for violence, language, and sensuality.

Where to Watch: Stream on Hulu and Amazon Freevee or buy on Digital and DVD.

#12 Madam Secretary (2014-2019)

madam secretary still
Madam Secretary. Credit: CBS Television

The Story: Madam Secretary depicts the Secretary of State, Elizabeth McCord, balancing politics and family life.

Similarities: Madam Secretary, like This Is Us, is a romantic drama with political aspects. Randall, like Elizabeth, learns to balance life and a political career while also having an amazing marriage with an intellectual equal.

Madam Secretary is surprisingly more of a romance than you might think – the series even ends on a sequence of HEAs for the main characters. The politics are also more optimistic and idealized like in This Is Us – making you believe that good things are possible.

All in all, you’ll love Madam Secretary if you enjoy watching good marriages without all the excess conflicts and appreciate optimism and complex families.

Content Note: TV-PG for thematic elements. Mild overall.

Where to Watch: Stream on Netflix and Paramount+ or buy on Digital and DVD.

#13 A Million Little Things (2018-)

a million little things promo image
A Million Little Things. Credit: ABC

The Story: When a group of friends discovers their friend took his own life, they become determined to live more fulfilled lives.

Similarities: Often compared to This Is Us, A Million Little Things is a character-driven family drama dealing with real life, loss, grief, friendship, and the overall complexities of existence.

With emotional stories and memorable characters, A Million Little Things is a series you should consider watching when you miss This Is Us. It also has a great cast.

Content Note: TV-14 for mild sensuality, language, and adult themes.

Where to Watch: Stream on Hulu or buy on Digital and DVD. New episodes air on ABC.

#14 Once and Again (1999-2002)

once and again poster

The Story: Once and Again follows two divorcées as they begin a romantic relationship while dealing with their complicated family lives.

Similarities: Both shows won primetime Emmy Awards and are family drama series with strong romantic elements and introspective qualities. You’ll relate to this series as much as This Is Us with good writing, characters, and themes about life.

Once and Again truthfully explores the complexities of life with beautiful dialogue to go with it. Rick Sammler (Billy Campbell) is also a great TV Dad like Jack Pearson.

Content Note: It’s NR, but there’s nothing explicit here.

Where to Watch: Buy on DVD.

#15 One Day at A Time (2017-2020)

one day at a time poster

The Story: The sitcom (and remake of the 1970s series) portrays three generations of a Cuban American family living together. Justina Machado and Rita Moreno star.

Similarities: While One Day at a Time is more comedic than This Is Us, it is still poignant and heartwarming, with emotional and dramatic family stories to touch your heartstrings.

It’s also relatable and nostalgic, and full of laughs. So, watch this if you’re in the mood for something funny but genuine.

Content Note: TV-PG for innuendo, language, and thematic elements.

Where to Watch: Stream on Netflix.

#16 Pachinko (2022-)

Youn Yuh-jung in Pachinko as Sunja.
Youn Yuh-jung in Pachinko as Sunja. Credit: Apple TV+

The Story: The ambitious family saga recounts the journeys of a Korean immigrant family across generations and countries.

Similarities: Pachinko is an epic masterpiece with beautiful storytelling and writing, not to mention award-worthy performances.

Like This Is Us, Pachinko is a multigenerational tale that spans decades following the complicated lives of one family.

When you’re missing This Is Us, Pachinko is just what you need! It’s storytelling at its finest.

Content Note: TV-MA for infrequent sensuality (no nudity) and some strong language during a few scenes set in the 1980s.

Where to Watch: Apple TV+.

#17 Parenthood (2010-2015)

lauren graham in parenthood
Lauren Graham in Parenthood. Credit: NBC Universal

The Story: Parenthood examines the complicated lives of the Braverman family and their ups and downs.

Similarities: Both are family dramas full of romance, tragedies, funny moments, relatable but flawed characters, discussions on mental health, and more. It’s also a tearjerker, so get a box of tissues!

Like This Is Us, the NBC series, Parenthood explores the beauty of everyday life and the little moments that matter.

Content Note: TV-PG for innuendo, sensuality, and language.

Where to Watch: Stream on Hulu, Peacock, and Roku. You can also buy the series on Digital and DVD.

#18 Party of Five (1994-2000)

party of five promo image
Party of Five. Credit: Columbia/Sony Pictures Television

The Story: After the tragic loss of their parents, five siblings grow up together as they deal with life’s struggles.

Similarities: Party of Five is a touching family drama dealing with themes of life and love. There are triumphs and tragedies, grief, and healing, and lots of courage. Plus, it captures the feeling of the ’90s perfectly.

If you’re looking for an emotional, authentic series, Party of Five is must-watch television.

Content Note: TV-PG for mild innuendo and language.

Where to Watch: Buy on Digital and DVD.

#19 Pitch (2016-2017)

Pitch publicity still
Pitch. Credit: 20th Century Fox Television

The Story: A young woman joins the Major Leagues, the first woman to do so!

Similarities: Dan Fogelman, the creator of This Is Us, also created Pitch – bringing his signature writing style to this short-lived series. The romantic drama includes flashbacks and poignant stories with captivating characters and performances to keep you hooked.

While Pitch was canceled too soon, it’s still worth watching to see glimpses of what could have been. Plus, the budding romance between Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) and Mike (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) was intriguing.

Content Note: TV-14

Where to Watch: Stream on Hulu and Tubi or buy digitally.

#20 A Place to Call Home (2013-2018)

a place to call home still
Marta Dusseldorp in A Place to Call Home. Credit: Seven Productions/Endemol

The Story: When Sarah Adams, a mysterious nurse with a tragic past, moves to a small town in Australia to start a new life, she uncovers a scandalous secret connected to the wealthy Bligh family.

Similarities: The Australian period drama series is little-known in the United States but is excellent television with a binge-worthy quality. With twists and turns, lots of family drama, budding romances, tragedies, laughs, and more, A Place to Call Home, like This is Us, tells a complete narrative story – ending with an old lady passing on.

Indeed, it’s a beautiful series with excellent actors, high production quality, and the perfect ending.

Content Note: TV-14/TV-MA for brief nudity, sensuality, and brief violence.

Where to Watch: Stream on Acorn TV and Hoopla or buy on Digital and DVD.

#21 Queen Sugar (2016-2022)

queen sugar poster

The Story: Queen Sugar details the story and lives of three siblings when they receive a shared inheritance after the loss of their father.

Similarities: Here’s another relatable family drama – and like This Is Us, there are three siblings in this tale! The series deals with similar themes like familial relationships, race, and cultural heritage. It also has a lot of romance in it.

Content Note: TV-14

Where to Watch: Stream on Hulu or buy on Digital and DVD.

#22 Thirtysomething (1987-1991)

thirtysomething promo image
Thirtysomething. Credit: ABC

The Story: Thirtysomething gives an account of the lives of seven adults dealing with everyday life in Philadelphia.

Similarities: Ken Olin, one of the leading writers of This Is Us, penned some of the episodes of Thirtysomething, and if you watch, it’s not surprising! The series won 13 Emmy’s and is full of good, emotional drama and romantic entanglements.

Content Note: TV-14

Where to Watch: Buy on DVD.

#23 Virgin River (2019-)

Virgin River Still
Virgin River. Credit: Reel World Management/Netflix

The Story: Nurse practitioner and midwife, Mel Monroe, moves to an idyllic remote town in California after dealing with a tragic loss to get a fresh start.

Similarities: Alexandra Breckenridge (Sophie in This Is Us) stars in this romantic drama series that will make you laugh and cry! When she moves to the town, she develops a friendship and romance with the local bar owner, Jack Sheridan; only he’s an army veteran who has PTSD. He’s quite a bit like Jack Pearson too.

Virgin River deals a lot with grief and tragedy but keeps things pretty light-hearted and emotional in a good way. 

Content Note: TV-14 for mild language, non-explicit love scenes, and mild violence.

Where to Watch: Stream on Netflix.

#24 The Wonder Years – Both Versions (1988-1993) (2021-)

Both versions of The Wonder Years.
Both versions of The Wonder Years. Credit: 20th Television/ABC

The Story: Both TV shows have older male narrators exploring their childhoods in the 1960s.

Similarities: If nostalgic and touching family drama is why you love This is Us, both versions of The Wonder Years are great to watch. Both are coming-of-age tales with good writing, characters, romances, and more, but explored differently.

Content Note: TV-PG

Where to Watch The Wonder Years (1988): Stream on Hulu or buy on DVD.

Where to Watch The Wonder Years (2021): Stream on Hulu and Disney+ or buy on Digital. You can watch new episodes on ABC.

#25 Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (2020-2021)

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist still
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Credit: NBC

The Story: When a young woman discovers she can hear people’s thoughts through singing and musical dance numbers, she uses her ability to help the people around her.

Similarities: While different in tone, both deal with grief and the loss of a father in beautiful, heartfelt ways that will bring out the tissues.

It’s also part family dramedy and part romantic dramedy, bringing all the complications. Season 1 is incredibly excellent with some fantastic writing. It’s also very comforting to watch.

Content Note: TV-14 for mild profanity and innuendo.

Where to Watch: Stream on Peacock and the Roku Channel. You can also buy episodes digitally.

MORE SERIES LIKE THIS IS US TO WATCH

  • 9-1-1
  • Anne with an E: Depicts the beauty of adoption like with Randall!
  • Blue Bloods
  • The Crown: A “family” drama that spans decades.
  • Dawson’s Creek
  • Eli Stone
  • Emily Owens MD: See Justin Hartley in another fun role!
  • Felicity
  • Firefly Lane
  • The Fosters
  • Heartland
  • Jack and Bobby
  • Jane the Virgin
  • Lark Rise to Candleford
  • Life Unexpected
  • Little Fires Everywhere: Reese Witherspoon stars
  • My So-Called Life
  • Nashville
  • October Road
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Ordinary Joe
  • Smallville: Justin Hartley plays the Green Arrow in this family superhero drama.
  • Sorry for Your Loss
  • Switched at Birth
  • The Waltons

What shows like This Is Us do you recommend watching? Do you plan to check out any of the titles on this list? Let us know in the comments below!


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By on May 12th, 2022

About Amber Topping

Amber works as a writer and digital publisher full-time and fell in love with stories and imagination at an early age. She has a Humanities and Film Degree from BYU, co-created The Silver Petticoat Review, contributed as a writer to various magazines, and has an MS in Publishing from Pace University, where she received the Publishing Award of Excellence and wrote her thesis on transmedia, Jane Austen, and the romance genre. Her ultimate dreams are publishing books, writing and producing movies, traveling around the world, and forming a creative village of talented storytellers trying to change the world through art.

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6 thoughts on “25 of the Best Emotional Shows Like This Is Us to Watch”

  1. Love this. Thanks so much Amber and Autumn.
    testimonial: LOVED A Place to Call Home. – one of the best

    Reply

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