NBC’s Parenthood (10 p.m. Thursdays), now in its fifth season, is loosely based on the 1989 Ron Howard film starring Steve Martin. This hilarious offering from the quotable ’80s movie vault sets the stage for its contemporary series counterpart.
Both feature three generations of a family (The Bravermans on TV; The Buckmans in the movie) sprawling across several households. The hefty cast of the show includes Craig T. Nelson (Coach), Peter Krause (Six Feet Under), Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) and Mae Whitman (“Her?”) plus tons of other talent that bring this dysfunctional family to life.
The storylines — and there are 50 at any given time — range from dating after divorce to empty nest syndrome to living with autism. Each timely topic is carefully delivered with heart, exploring the realistic triumphs and tragedies of 21st-century children, young adults, parents and seniors.
It’s not a flashy show — you won’t see it rack up awards or garner copious critical acclaim. You’re probably not going to host a marathon watch-party for it. But Parenthood is a rare kind of accessible dramedy that offers a thoughtful examination of the modern family. It’s where to go if you’re in the mood for a feel-good story or just need a good cry, without the guilt of watching trash TV.
WEDNESDAY OCT. 30
American Horror Story: Coven (10 p.m., FX) – Fiona’s actions cause Marie Laveau to call off her long-standing truce with the Salem witches and The Council of Witchcraft to stop by the Academy to investigate the loss of a young witch.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (10 p.m., FXX) – With the great success of The Gang’s take on Lethal Weapon 5, they set out to create another completely non-offensive sequel
Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce (11 p.m., Fuse) – Freedia edits her music for a young audience, bringing Bounce down to kid-appropriate levels.
THURSDAY OCT. 31
SNL Halloween (8 p.m., NBC) – Hopefully just an hour-long version of the Wes Anderson horror film sketch from last week’s episode with Edward Norton.
Project Runway All Stars (9 p.m., Lifetime) – Creepy crawlies in the American Museum of Natural History serve as inspiration for this week’s avant-garde challenge. Season Nine winner Anya and jewelry designer Jennifer Meyer guest-judge.
Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Story: Haunted House (midnight, Adult Swim) – The hilariously odd duo gets a rare 30-minute time slot for this Halloween special with Zach Galifianakis. Is the world ready for an entire half-hour of Tim & Eric?
FRIDAY NOV. 1
Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive (Available on Netflix Nov. 1) – From his early stand-up to his Human Giant days on MTV to his role as the incomparable Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation, Aziz Ansari has been dominating the comedy scene over the past few years. His latest comedy special is from his 2012 Buried Alive tour (which stopped at the Aronoff Center in June of that year). It centers on the idea of approaching 30 and all the weird adult stuff that tends to follow (marriage, babies, etc.).
SATURDAY NOV. 2
Saturday Night Live (11:30 p.m., NBC) – Scandal star Kerry Washington hosts; Eminem performs.
SUNDAY NOV. 3
LumenoCity (4:30 p.m., CET) – Missed the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s collaborative multimedia spectacle this summer? Catch LumenoCity from the comfort of your home throughout this week. The musical light show featuring architectural mapping also screens Monday-Wednesday on CET Arts.
The Walking Dead (9 p.m., AMC) – It seems like anyone could die at this point. Though it’s been true all along (this is a zombie apocalypse, after all), this season really made that threat feel real. This week, the remaining healthy survivors set off to find meds for the sick, but encounter some intense obstacles along the way.
Boardwalk Empire (9 p.m., HBO) – The war between Chalky and Valentin is on, but Nucky wants nothing to do with it; Van Alden walks a dangerous line between O’Banion and Capone; a cleaned up Gillian goes to court to regain custody of Tommy.
TUESDAY NOV. 5
The Mindy Project (9:30 p.m., Fox) – Danny calls Mindy out for being too judgmental of guys, inspiring her to go out with a laidback “Sk8r Man” (Timothy Olyphant). Elsewhere, Jeremy’s dad comes to visit but would rather hang out with Peter than his own son.
CONTACT JAC KERN: email@example.com or @jackern