Party of Five
One glance at the above picture, and you’ll probably recognize these folks. Matthew Fox, Neve Campbell, and Lacey Chabert all got their start as the Salinger orphans. This cast would go on to dominate the ’90s and early 2000s, but before they were Mean Girls, Lost, or in Scream, they were just a plucky group of siblings trying to figure out life after the death of their parents. It also featured a very perky Jennifer Love Hewitt in all her teenage glory.
This show was super emo before it was cool to have feelings, and it took a lot of flack for being the most tear-jerking hour in primetime. Every week, you had to grapple with the death of these kids’ parents, the loss they felt, and how it’s screwing them up. This show would challenge even Grey’s Anatomy tear quota. It was equal parts sappy teenage melodrama and poignant coming of age, and it remains one of my favorite orphan stories of all time.
A young, bearded and dashing Matthew Fox plays the eldest Salinger. He’s mostly responsible for the care-taking of his other four siblings, but together, they have to face cancer, alcoholism, domestic abuse, and the constant struggles with money. This show is the sweeter, milder version of Showtime’s Shameless, without all the cursing, gratuitous sex, and reports to the Department of Family Services.