I think I am an idiot. I had heard all of the talk before about how great this NBC show was based on an 1989 Ron Howard movie with the same title, but I never made it part of my weekly television lineup. I was too busy Breaking Bad, or catching the House of Lies, trying to hang out with the Mad Men, while building my House of Cards, and even enhance my singing chops by watching Glee. If it wasn’t the Challenge, or American Idol, or even The Voice, I just found it hard to fit in any other TV shows. Then I got all Scandal-ized by Shondra Rhimes and she made it difficult to do anything new on Thursdays. Jax Teller and the Sons of Anarchy weren’t allowing me to embrace a new family drama. However, over the past four years, something always remained consistent. Parenthood, this little family show that I kept missing, stayed on the NBC lineup. Even through the peacock’s peaks and valleys over the last couple of years, Parenthood has remained one of the network’s core shows. I just never took the time to watch it. Shame on me. What an idiot I am…because it may be the best show on television.
If you haven’t seen it yet, Parenthood is a dramatic series developed for TV by Jason Katims and produced by Imagine Entertainment, the same company that produced the 1989 film starring Steve Martin. The show is about the Braverman family, which consists of an older couple, their four children, and their families. Each family deals with their own set of challenges revolving parenting and their lives. It’s a very realistic look into what it’s like to be a part of a family and to have your own family. I think one of the reasons why I connect with this show so much is because I just became a parent, and the show touches on so many issues that face families today. The Braverman family deals with alot of issues that can affect today’s modern family. One of the families on the show has a son who has Asperger syndrome. One of the parents is raising two children alone. One of the families is an interracial unit. Some episodes tackle teenage substance abuse and dating issues, infidelity amongst parents, troubles in the work place, examining traditional gender roles, and exploring conflict resolution amongst partners are just some of the major issues that face the Braverman clan. It deeply saddens me to know that the show will be going off the air after this season, its sixth on the air. NBC never really gave this show the home that it truly deserves and has moved it all over their lineup from Tuesdays to Thursday’s since it’s debut in 2010. It never got the publicity like The Blacklist does. When a network moves a program around alot, it’s hard for the show to gain a following. True fans of the show have been watching from the get go, but I, like a dum dum, just overlooked how great this show really is, and just was too busy watching other things. But thanks to Netflix, I am bing watching the entire series and am in LOVE with this show for the following reasons.
1) The show makes you want to cry EVERY episode. Seriously, how is this possible? There is a “uh huh, you got me there,” teary moment in every episode. And it’s not like that fake cry feeling, it’s like genuine tears of joy or sadness cry that is always there. Gotta give it up to the writers of the show, because they hold no punches. Parenthood isn’t a procedural drama like the ones on CBS, where there is a resolution to every story by the end of every episode. Parenthood shows conflicts that develop and play out throughout the entire season. It’s incredible to see this family evolves and change over time. If you were a fan of the movie Boyhood, this show is right up your alley. Tell me you haven’t cried multiple times watching this show. Guarenteed you have.
2) The cast is OUTSTANDING. Talk about nailing it with the cast, I have a newfound appreciation for all of these actors. Parenthood stars Peter Krause and Monica Potter as Adam and Kristina Braverman. Adam and Kristina are parents to Haddie Braverman (played by Sarah Ramos) and Max Braverman, who has Asperger’s syndrome (played by the BRILLIANT Max Burholder) Adam’s brother is Crosby, played by Dax Sheppard, who is married to Jasmine Trussel, played by Joy Bryant (they are the main interracial couple on the show) and they have a son named Jabbar, played by Tyree Brown. (super bute) Adam has two sisters. One is Sarah Braverman, played by Lauren Graham, who is a single mom to two kids, Amber Holt (played by the amazing Mae Whitman) and Drew Holt, (played by Miles Heizer) and the other is Julia Braverman Graham, the type A, lawyer mom, played by Erika Christensen and her stay-at-home husband Joel Graham (played by Sam Jaegar.) They have a young daughter named Sydney played by Savannha Paige Rae. At the head of the Braverman clan is Zeek and Camile Braverman, played by Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia. The entire cast is just fantastic. They really pour their heart and souls into these characters and over six seasons they are all very well developed. with flaws and insecurities that the directors aren’t afraid to expose. It’s been great watching these talented actors grow into their characters over time. And six seasons of playing the same person really give the actor the ability to stretch and gel into these performances.
3) The story lines are REAL. Although the Braverman extended family does seem a little kumbaya-ish, the problems and situations that the family deals with are very real. In many homes in American society, the extended family concept is alive and strong. It is common to see grandparents and extended family members living within one singular family unit in many of today’s homes. The Braverman family seems to do everything on the show together, which is little uncommon. They all seem to be way too involved in each other’s lives. But isn’t that what’s great about a family? Having people who you can turn to and can rely on for any type of problem and situation? I would imagine this type of family bonding exists in families that have multiple children, especially those close in age, like the adults in Parenthood are. The exploration of Max’s character, who has Asperger’s syndrome is fascinating. The show takes such a complex look at the world of Max from the viewpoints of all of his family members, as well from as Max himself. The show connects on issues about divorce, infidelity, drugs and alcohol, finances, whether or not to have more kids, death, sickness, interpersonal relationships, and does a great job capturing what it’s like to be a parent in today’s world. I know I am little bias now being a parent myself, but it’s nice to see a show that is not afraid to tackle serious parenting issues.
4) The show incorporates great music. The musical director of Parenthood is spot on. The National, Ray LaMontagne, Brett Dennen, The Swell Season, Wilco, the Eels, The Avett Brothers, and Amos Lee are just some of the artists who have loaned their music to the show. The show always seems to have great music playing at the right time. Also Crosby’s character is a music producer and Amber’s character is an aspiring musician, so the show stays true to its musical roots, which is something that is near and dear to my heart. The musical selections really give each episode that emotional feel.
5) The show makes you appreciate family. Parenting is hard. It’s very hard. When you become a parent you realize that your life is not really about you anymore. It’s about someone else. It’s about your children and bettering their lives. But along with that, you realize how important family and the concept of family is. At the end of the day, you can never escape where you came from. It’s those people who raise you and who you see consistently that have a tremendous amount of influence on your world. The Bravermans are the epitome of the quote “the family that plays together, stays together.” They are a loyal, loving, devoted damily. They aren’t perfect. They pick each other up when one is down. They don’t let one of their own lose their way. They realize and understand their mistakes. They recognize their shortcomings. They overcome obstacles. They let each other be who they are. They can admit when they have messed up. They sometimes get things wrong. But in the end, they love and respect each other. And although, alot of families, including your own, may be nothing like the Bravermans, the core values about family that can work for any type of family unit are on display for sixty minutes in every epsiode that’s ever been created for this show. That’s something that is special and real, and definitely is worth an hour of your time each week.
I’m glad I wasn’t too late to see their final party. Parenthood is on Thursday nights at 10:00pm on NBC. This is the shows 6th and final season. Seasons 1-5 are available on Netflix.