Binge Break: Break out the tissues for Party of Five

Party of Five shows the power of family in a world that seems to only throw obstacles in one’s way — and now it’s all available to binge.


Kayli Reese, Managing Editor

I’m the first to admit I cry easily. I’ve cried at almost every movie I’ve ever seen. But I think Freeform’s Party of Five reboot would make anyone cry instantly; I didn’t think this is just a “me” thing this time when I cried every episode.

For those who are unfamiliar (as I once was before my dad explained it to me), the original Party of Five, which was on air in the ‘90s, follows five siblings who take care of one another after their parents die in a car crash. In the 2020 reboot, the five Acosta siblings must also adjust to life without their parents — this time, however, due to their parents’ deportation to Mexico.

The show breaks your heart from the very first episode, watching a family break down as the minutes until their separation tick closer and closer. The weight of what this international divide does the Acosta family doesn’t let up, not once, for the rest of the first season — which just concluded March 4 and is now all available to stream on Hulu.

However, Party of Five never feels like it’s trying to shove its message down your throat. While the topics of immigration and border control are a present character, the hearts and bond of the Acosta siblings tug on one’s heartstrings just as much. They deal with normal teenage anxieties, make fun of each other at every opportunity, run to help when a crisis emerges, and physically get at each other when provoked. Watching them every week made me miss my own siblings a bit more than usual.

In Party of Five, it’s the oldest brother Emilio (Brandon Larracuente) who must move back in to head the family, and it’s his journey throughout the season that’s most poignant. Emilio is the only Acosta with DACA status, meaning he is the only sibling who doesn’t have a chance of seeing his parents again until they can reapply to come back to the U.S. He struggles to balance following his dreams for a life he desires with a need to look after the rest of his family — and he can’t turn to anyone for the answers.

Emilio has some help from the middle siblings, teenage twins Beto (Niko Guardado) and Lucia (Emily Tosta), but they have their personal dramas to contend with as well. Beto falls for a girl who’s life seems to come from a different world, a trope that can’t help but always work as an effective way to suck a viewer in. Lucia — who probably has my favorite arc — begins to find an activist voice for herself, but she also begins to have questions about her sexuality, questions she can’t ask her mother. She also befriends Matthew (Garcia), a transgender character played by a transgender actor — important visibility on a national television show.

Rounding out the Acosta siblings are Valentina (Elle Paris Legaspi) and baby Rafa, both of whom are much too young to deal with the idea that their parents can’t be there for every moment and hardship. While watching Valentina struggle with wrapping her head around her absent parents is difficult, it’s equally as hard to watch a baby oblivious to anything wrong in his life. Children need their parents, and this importance of family cannot be understated.

Party of Five makes you want to call your sister, it makes walking around Target with your mother feel more like a privilege than it once did. Between the beating heart pulsating throughout the show and it’s incredibly timely topics of conversations, it’s not something to be missed.