Is “Parenthood” too much like “Brothers & Sisters”?

Parenthood premiered on NBC this spring to good reviews with one exception: the plot is very similar to ABC’s series, Brothers & Sisters, which is now just wrapping up their fourth season. However, many claim that Parenthood came first, as it is a television adaption of the 1989 film starring Steve Martin. Only one problem, the series borrows little from the movie other than the title and the same producers. Sure they keep the large family and a few other similarities, but it seems they take more from the ABC series. I’ll delve into that more here:

The Lawyer: Both series have a sibling that is a lawyer. While it can be said that many series have a lawyer, in both Parenthood and Brothers & Sisters, the lawyer (Julia in Parenthood and Kevin in Brothers & Sisters) must choose between spending more time at work or more time with the family. So far in Parenthood Julia (Erika Christensen) is struggling with this, while Kevin (Matthew Rhys) quit being a lawyer to spend time with those who matter.

The Illegitimate Child: Another similarity is that of the illegitimate child. While the character who has this child is different, it is a major plot point throughout both series. In Parenthood we learn that Crosby (Dax Shepard) has a son named Jabbar. In Brothers & Sisters, we learn that William (Tom Skeritt) had a child. We thought it was Rebecca (Emily VanCamp) through an affair, but in a bigger plot twist, find out it was actually Ryan (Luke Grimes) through a different affair.

The Affair: This week we learned that Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) had an affair on his wife, Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) on Parenthood. This was the final nail in the coffin for me. Brothers & Sisters started their show with William’s affair on Nora (Sally Field) and has been a focal point for the first season and a half.

If that’s not strong enough evidence, there is the daughter moving back into their parents’ house (Sarah played by Lauren Graham in Parenthood and Kitty played by Calista Flockhart in Brothers & Sisters), the amount of siblings (4 in Parenthood, 5 in Brothers & Sisters), the setting (both take place in suburbs in California), a divorced single mother trying to date again (Sarah again in Parenthood and a different Sarah played by Rachel Griffiths in Brothers & Sisters), among others.

While both shows are good, I don’t know how this will work in the fall when they go head to head for a full season. Luckily, for now, they don’t air at the same time.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your opinion!

5 replies »

  1. I really don’t think it matters. I’ve seen both shows and really apart from Rob Lowe being awesome, I couldn’t get into Brothers & Sisters. I have had a great time watching Parenthood though. I think the cast just has a better chemistry together, the show is at its best when all of the siblings are together.

  2. I politely disagree. I feel the “Brothers & Sisters” cast gels much better than that of “Parenthood”. I think the latter show has a lot of talented actors, which helps. “Brothers & Sisters” feels more organic, especially since 75% of the cast were unknowns when the show started. They have grown as a family and I still think B&S is stronger than Parenthood. Ratings show that as well.

  3. I love them both…only discovered Brothers and Sisters last year on Netflix and watched every episode -I did run on my treadmill so I did not turn into a complete couch potato. I missed the cast so much when it was done that for a long time I’d keep them on in the background just to hear them (yes I am busy, working, parent, wife…lol). Anyhow, just discovered a year later Parenthood on Netflix and am in HEAVEN…

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