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5 Shows like Life in Pieces: We Are Family

Roxanne_Sancto_itcher_contributorWe spend most of our teen years trying to get away from our annoying parents and siblings, only to realize we miss them when they’re not bugging us 24/7. That’s when shows like ‘Life in Pieces’ come in handy: they remind us of the family annoyances as well as the good times. Similarly, series like ‘Modern Family’ and ‘The Millers also do the trick. ~ Roxanne Sancto

Your sister tells me you’re a virgin.

Well, thanks for the overshare, Sis! Those are pretty much the last words Tyler (Niall Cunningham) wanted to hear out of his dad’s (Dan Bakkedahl) mouth on the first day of college. But that’s what siblings and parents are for, right? Embarrassing you whenever possible!

‘Life in Pieces’ is a funny new sitcom that is broken up into four short stories focusing on the various members of the Short family. Joan (Dianne Wiest) and John (James Brolin) are immensely proud of their kids Heather (Betsy Brandt), Greg (Colin Hanks) and Matt (Thomas Sadoski). But they have a tendency to get a little up in their children’s grill – but I guess that’s just a parental right.

If you need to remind yourself why you hate family reunions and why you (sometimes) love your bitchy younger sister and goofy older brother, here are a few more shows like ‘Life in Pieces’.


Shows Similar to ‘Life in Pieces’…

‘Modern Family’ (ABC, 2009)

Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill) is the patriarch of a ‘Modern Family’ – in other words, the family set-up isn’t quite conventional. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t forced to mediate typical sibling quarrels or reassure his Colombian beauty of a wife on a regular basis.

He’s a good guy, but he’s strict and opinionated. His daughter, Claire (Julie Bowen) goes out of her way to make him proud, but he’s not quick to show his approval – he really makes her work for it. But he’s always there to support her when she needs it.

Jay Pritchett is a perfect example of the typical father figure: brooding, emotionally distant and entirely too opinionated when it comes to the lives of his children. And yet, at the end of the day, he loves his family more than life itself.

Similarity Match: 90%
Both shows follow the separate lives of a family clan, but ‘Modern Family’ tends to end on a general moral, whereas ‘Life in Pieces’ often follow storylines that are quite separate from each other.

‘The Millers’ (CBS, 2013)

Nathan (Will Arnett) is a news reporter who’s recently divorced from his wife. He’s just starting to get used to his new, single life and his bachelor pad when his parents, Carol (Margo Martindale) and Tom (Beau Bridges) drop a bomb on him and his sister, Debbie (Jayma Mays): they’re going to get divorced.

Fair enough – after all, the most important thing for children is that their parents are happy, right? But what if their parents’ happiness comes at the cost of their own? That’s exactly what’s happening to Debbie and Nathan.

Carol moves in with Nathan, putting a damper on his potential dating life by mothering him and sticking her nose into his business constantly. Debbie, on the other hand, feels like she has another child to look after with Tom.

Similarity Match: 85%
Like the Short family, ‘The Millers’ are very close, but that doesn’t mean their relationships are without conflict. ‘Life in Pieces’ also focuses on the lives of the youngest kids of the clan, whereas ‘The Millers’ doesn’t.

‘The Middle’ (ABC, 2009)

Frankie (Patricia Heaton) has her hands full with her kids, Brick (Atticus Shaffer), Sue (Eden Sher) and Axl (Charlie McDermott), and her no-nonsense husband Mike (Neil Flynn). She often finds herself wishing them away, just for one day, so she can enjoy an uninterrupted ‘The Bachelor’ marathon.

But once Sue and Axl leave for college, she realizes how much she misses having them around…Yes, even Axl and his no-pants-after-school-policy. And, of course, the house just isn’t the same without Sue’s brightly sparkling optimism.

At least there’s still Brick, the eccentric bookworm who keeps her entertained with all his strange but loveable ticks. Series similar to ‘Life in Pieces’ and ‘The Middle’ concentrate on what it means to be part of a family – through the good times and the bad.

Similarity Match: 80%
Although both shows are funny, ‘The Middle’ leans more towards comical humour, whereas ‘Life in Pieces’ is quite realistic in its hilariousness.

‘How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life)’ (ABC, 2013)

It’s nice to know that, whatever life throws at you, no matter how down in the dumps you are, your parents will always welcome you back into their home with open arms. Well, kind of. At least in the case of Polly (Sarah Chalke) and her parents, Elaine (Elizabeth Perkins) and Max (Brad Garrett).

See, Polly and her parents are polar opposites. Max and Elaine are pretty laid back and entirely too open about their private (sex) lives, whereas Polly is pretty uptight; she likes her schedules and to have control over everything and that’s just not how Max and Elaine roll.

Perkins and Garrett shine in their roles as the laidback hippy parents and inspire some real belly-laughter moments thanks to their attitudes and dialogues.

Similarity Match: 65%
Like Joan and John, Elaine and Max seem to be going through their second honeymoon phase too. But ‘How to Live with Your Parents’ is more grown up than ‘Life in Pieces’, in that the language and content isn’t necessarily suitable for a younger audience.


If You Like ‘Life in Pieces’, You Will Like…

Series like ‘Life in Pieces’ portray all aspects of family life: the annoyances, the fun times, the unconditional support and constant bickering.

The family members who come out of reunions the happiest are usually the kids – the only beef they’ve got is with each other and that can usually be resolved in a matter of minutes, whereas adults tend to hold on to their feuds. Thus, some of the best characters on shows like ‘Life in Pieces’ and ‘Modern Family’ are usually the youngest.

Here’s another TV series you might like if you can’t get enough of the cheeky littlins.

‘Outnumbered’ (BBC, 2007)

Pete (Hugh Dennis) and Sue (Claire Skinner) no longer have a say in their own home – they are ‘Outnumbered’ by their three kids Jake (Tyger Drew-Honey), Karen (Ramona Marquez) and Ben (Daniel Roche), who basically run the household.

The kids are hilarious little personalities, especially Karen, who’s the queen of too many questions, and Jake, the pathological liar who gets up to all kinds of weirdness. Jake has only one thing on his mind: girls.

‘Outnumbered’ will give you a taste of a chaotic family life ruled by three children.

The focus in ‘Outnumbered’ is on the kids more than the parents. But both shows follow the everyday lives of various members within a family.


Family: We May Not Have it All Together, but Together, We Have it All

Every family has their issues, but at the end of the day, they’ll always have your back. If you need to remind yourself of that very fact, any of the shows mentioned above will help you along your way.

And surely, at least one of the kid characters in these shows must remind you of your ever-questioning younger sibling, right?

My name is Roxanne Sancto and I’ll be writing all things music, book and movie related for itcher mag. I also write for New Heroes & Pioneers’ upcoming Festival and Culture magazines, to be launched in the spring of 2014. I am the co-author of The Pink Boots and am currently working on two new novels. I love music, literature, cinema, crafting, yoga and animals.
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