Dynamic writers. Impeccable music choices. Palpable and raw acting. Painfully relevant topics. These are all factors that guarantee a successful, highly-rated television show; they are also clear components of Jason Katims’ second major television series, “Parenthood.” Following major success from the critically-acclaimed “Friday Night Lights,” Jason Katims created a second show that not only fluidly strung together all these ingredients, it added something more. And now we must say goodbye to it.
Katims’ Berkeley-based series, which ran for six seasons and came to a close this past Thursday, January 29th, will be immensely missed. Here we say goodbye to television that tapped into viewers’ deep-seated emotional experiences, examined relevant and compelling societal issues and was undeniably relatable. Plus, let’s not forget the rush that all the Berkeley and “Friday Night Lights” references supplied.
The show centered on the Braverman family, headed by Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) and Camille (Bonnie Bedelia). The couple had numerous grandchildren yielded by their four adult children – Adam (Peter Krause), Sarah (Lauren Graham), Julia (Erika Christensen) and Crosby (Dax Shepard). The Braverman clan aptly reflects upon the day-to-day struggles of raising children, coming of age and building relationships. Through our six seasons spent with the Bravermans, some other extremely acute issues are also tackled. Loyal “Parenthood” adherents saw this endearing family struggle with economic hardship, PTSD, both planned and unplanned pregnancy, divorce, cancer, Asperger’s diagnoses, coming to terms with sexuality, adoption and even death.
It’s impossible to thoroughly probe into all the intricacies of Parenthood’s dynamic plotline, but the most noticeable difference between this show and others is simple: It’s in their stories. Yes, these stories are clearly portrayed using idealized characters — it is television, after all — but for the most part “Parenthood” deals with reality.
Katims’ series demonstrated to us everything from how awkward it is to have to tell your teenaged son that he masturbates too much to the gut-wrenching pain of watching a loved one combat Breast cancer. Viewers have been forced to face both easily-empathized struggles like parenting and raising a family, along with adversities that feel completely displaced but could truly happen to anyone.
“Parenthood” shows us that life does not do what we expect – your dad might disappear into a haze of drugs and alcohol for years. An idealized young family who puts in a request to adopt a baby might instead get an 8-year-old, resentful street kid. You might fall out of love with your fiance. Drunk drivers may take your child close to the end of her life. Your son might have a severe mental disability; your fiancee might as well.
The world can unfairly fire the roughest curveballs at the least deserving individuals, but “Parenthood” demonstrated that these curveballs are just what make life so beautiful. The focus is not on how rattling and traumatizing life can be; rather, it’s on the human capacity to make the best out of a negative situation. A recurring theme runs through all six seasons: With a loving heart and an open mind, life will always improve.
The aforementioned absentee father could allow an unmistakably strong bond between mother and child to form. Your cancelled engagement closes one door, but paves the way to find new love. A horrible car accident could end up bringing your family closer than ever. Your son’s mental disability could allow him to teach his elders, his family more about life than they ever could’ve expected. This idea of finding positivity in every situation is embodied by the Braverman patriarch’s passing wishes — to have his ashes scattered at center field of a baseball diamond, over which his now extensive family played nine innings.
Life is never guaranteed to be easy. But with so many years, so many memories, and so much love, it is guaranteed to be fulfilling. The relationships and human connections we make – the lives we touch – are what make life what it is. Endings aren’t always happy, but what you make of them can be. If you put as much love into life as the Bravermans, strength results from adversity and a silver lining can always be found.
Contact Claralyse Palmer at [email protected].