Kate and I have been watching NBC's Parenthood pretty much from the start (it just finished its fourth season) and it is easily one of the best written shows on basic cable.
Turn on the TV at any moment of the day and it is particularly hard to find a decent man or woman on television. Typically, they are cheating, lying bastards who can't remain faithful to their family and, if they do, they are secretly brewing meth and killing lots of people on the side...see Breaking Bad. No doubt, those shows are entertaining to an extent, but Parenthood deals with a side of life that only the most patient and talented writer can tease out, reality.
The writers of Parenthood haven't forgotten that we all have our weaknesses and flaws but they have wisely avoided the temptation to magnify those flaws by giving every character an egregious downfall. Too many writers fall victim to this temptation and they do so because they think, ironically so, that they are being creative. But let's face it, most people don't decide to cook meth when they face a financial emergency. Most people get two jobs or make a crazy, but legal, decision to invest in a recording studio with their younger brother, to take an example from a real Parenthood episode. This thinking is at the heart of Parenthood and it is what has produced, at least for me, a reserve of genuine characters and conflicts that give me feelings of hope, despair, joy, anger, laughter, and, most importantly, what I see as a pretty accurate cross-section of life for a mixed middle-class, upper middle-class family experiencing the growing pains of life.