Endearing family drama

The A Word was such a delightful surprise when it premiered on BBC America last year. It's sweet, funny, and heartfelt, while tackling a topic that is not often thought of in those terms.

Young Joe Hughes (Max Vento), living in an English vacation town, is on the autism spectrum. His diagnosis, made clear in the first episode, permeates the Hughes familial order, from his neglected older sister to his protective grandfather to his bickering parents to his uncle and aunt, who have just moved back home after a marital scandal.

Morven Christie (Grantchester) plays Joe's mom with a maternal ferocity. She just wants what's best for her son, but what is that exactly? Christopher Eccleston, who took a much darker turn on HBO's The Leftovers, brings levity as Joe's grandfather, who is rediscovering his own life after the death of his wife, just as his grandson enters a new reality.

This is a must-watch for fans of Parenthood, the NBC weepy that also featured a character on the spectrum. Like Parenthood, The A Word makes the autism diagnosis feel real and true. This is not apocalyptic for the Hughes family, but it certainly wasn't in their plans, and they handle it with the grace of the endearingly dysfunctional family that they are.

The first season speeds by with only six episodes, but the BBC announced last year that a second season was in the works, so sit tight for more from the Hughes family. - Molly Eichel
Where to stream:
Amazon Prime.

Like this? Binge these: Stock up on tissues before bingeing all six seasons of Parenthood (Netflix). Want more Morven Christie? Detective show Grantchester is worth the watch (Amazon Prime). Want more Christopher Eccleston? Try The Leftovers (HBOGo) or his season on Doctor Who (Amazon Prime).