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8 Shows like Melissa and Joey: Unexpected Family Changes

Hannah Nwoko itcherAre you interested sitcoms about unexpected changes that occur in a character’s life, throwing them into a whirlwind of light-hearted and light-humored drama? Shows that force the main character to fix their act quickly and come to terms with the changes? To enjoy other TV shows like ‘Melissa and Joey’, check out ‘Baby Daddy’, ‘Life Unexpected’ and ‘Accidentally on Purpose’. ~ Hannah Nwoko

When Life Deals You a Deck of Cards That You Weren’t Expecting

It’s amazing how your life can throw the unexpected at you causing everything to change direction, and that’s exactly what ‘Melissa and Joey’ is all about. It follows Mel, a local politician as she takes custody of her sister’s teenage daughter and adolescent son.

Adjustments need to be made in order to accommodate the two children and more interestingly, Mel needs to step up and learn as she goes along. She enlists the help of her friend, Joe, who moves in to help with the kids.

The show is all about a life-changing event that throws the protagonist into an unfamiliar situation, which she quickly needs to adjust to. If you’re interested in this sort of narrative, then you’ll really like this mix of TV shows like ‘Melissa and Joey’.

‘Life Unexpected’ (The CW, 2010)

‘Life Unexpected’ follows Lux, a teenaged girl who has been bounced around the foster care system and seeks independence by requesting emancipation from adult care. As she navigates through the legal system, she encounters her birth father, bar owner Baze, and subsequently her birth mother, radio show host Cate.

Baze is shocked to discover he has a daughter, while Cate is upset that the child she gave up for adoption had grown up in the foster care system.

This can be considered a TV series like ‘Melissa and Joey’ because the arrival of Lux and the changes that follow are embraced as she is released into the temporary care of her birth parents.

With endless drama, major life adjustments, family feuds and controversial romances, ‘Life Unexpected’ is a great drama in which we see Lux’s relationship with her birth parents develop and flourish.

Similarity Match: 95%
Life really is unexpected and this show does a great job of balancing strained family relationships and controversial sub-narratives.

‘Last Man Standing’ (20th Century Fox, 2011-Present)

Starring Tim Allen in his first sitcom role since Home Improvement, he plays Mike, who lives with his wife, three daughters and one son.

When his wife goes back to work, Mike becomes the house husband, a role he is not prepared for as a man’s man in a household full of women.

Similarity Match: 90%
Given the gender role reversal in this show it leads to very similar comedic setups around this central theme.

‘Raising Hope’ (20th Century Fox, 2010-2014)

Jimmy is a 23-year-old man who earns a living by skimming pools, who has a random romantic liaison with Lucy, a wanted criminal. Months later, when he visits Lucy in prison, Jimmy discovers that she has given birth to his baby, which he must now raise – with help from his family.

This includes Jimmy’s parents, who display no interest in helping to raise their grandchild, and his grandmother, Maw Maw, who quite simply lacks the ability to look after a baby!

Similarity Match: 85%
The situation is slightly different in that it involves parents and not more distant family members, but the comedy comes from the same place.

‘Baby Daddy’ (ABC Family, 2012)

‘Baby Daddy’ is another series like ‘Melissa and Joey’ and it’s all about an unexpected surprise that turns the main character, Ben’s, life upside down. Ben returns home one day to find that his ex-girlfriend has left a baby girl on his doorstep.

The sitcom subsequently follows Ben, his brother and his best friend as they take collective responsibility and come together to adjust to the huge change.

There are some really sweet and adorable moments in ‘Baby Daddy’ as Ben adjusts to being a single father and his family and friends stand behind him, lending him a helping hand at every opportunity.

Similarity Match: 80%
With some loveable personalities and a quirky cast, ‘Baby Daddy’ has some pretty generic narratives but interesting comedic one-liners.

‘Accidentally on Purpose’ (CBS, 2009)

Similarly to ‘Baby Daddy’, ‘Accidentally on Purpose’ is a sitcom about an unexpected pregnancy and baby. The show follows Billie who has a one-night stand with a younger man and ends up getting pregnant! Deciding to keep the baby, she tells the father, Zack, but doesn’t realise what she’s getting herself in to!

Zack is young, immature and irresponsible and the show highlights his childish behaviour and mindset as Billie tries to adjust to not only being pregnant but also having Zack live with her platonically.

He brings his lazy and equally immature friends into the picture, and they end up turning Billie’s home into a frat house.

Similarity Match: 80%
‘Accidentally on Purpose’ has a lot to do with compatibility issues and the struggle and stereotypical complications that sometimes come with an older woman dating a younger man.

‘Happily Divorced’ (Endemol, 2011-2013)

When Fran and Peter get divorced Peter comes out as gay, but because of their situation they cannot afford to live separately, and so continue to remain living together in the same house.

As they both try to date again they must try to navigate this awkward situation.

Similarity Match: 75%
A couple who aren’t together are trapped living in the same house. Only this time the romantic tension comes from them dating new people, rather than each other.

‘My Wife and Kids’ (ABC, 2001)

‘My Wife and Kids’ is a pretty much a straightforward family sitcom but what makes it one of the shows similar to ‘Melissa and Joey’ is that during the last few seasons, an unexpected pregnancy occurs thrusting the family into major change.

Junior, the family’s eldest child, impregnates his girlfriend, Vanessa, after sleeping with her in his parent’s bed. Although the news disappoints and shocks his family, they eventually support him, even making a space in their house for Junior, Vanessa and their baby.

This meant Junior had to adjust quickly to being a parent and couldn’t get away with his silly antics any more. He wasn’t the only one who had to adjust – Junior’s parents had to come to terms with becoming grandparents before their time and they had to take the time to guide Junior in the right direction regarding parenthood.

Michael, Junior’s dad is considered the main character in the series, so the storyline also shows how the unexpected pregnancy takes a toll on him and his path in life.

Similarity Match: 70%
‘My Wife and Kids’ is best known for it’s exceptionally funny comedy and they way in which family and life lessons are hilariously taught to the kids.

‘Mom’ (Warner Bros., 2013-)

Christy decides to restart her life after overcoming alcohol and drug abuse. Her mother is in exactly the same position.

Both of them attempt to overcome life’s challenges, not an easy task when they are joined by Christy’s 17 year old daughter, who she gave birth to when she was 16, and who now is about to become a mother herself.

Similarity Match: 70%
A slightly more adult theme, but the ‘generations at war’ setup remains.


Babies and Pregnancies Seem to Be a Popular Way to Shake up a Storyline

Although ‘Melissa and Joey’ isn’t about a pregnancy or a baby, it still involves the unexpected care of children, which is what all these TV shows have in common.

If you seek light-hearted humour and enjoy watching characters that are developing, adjusting and growing throughout, then you’ll certainly want to check out the shows mentioned in this article!

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