I started watching ‘Parenthood’ day one because I love show-runner, writer, and producer, Jason Katims. The incredible cast, wonderful Ron Howard movie, and hole in my schedule for an hour family drama are all secondary reasons I flipped to NBC on March 2nd, 2010. The show-running ability that Katims displayed on “Friday Night Lights” had me looking forward to his next project, regardless of who or what was involved. I currently watch ‘About A Boy’ because his name on it, regardless of its debatable quality. Fortunately, we all lucked out that ‘Parenthood’ turned out to be one of the better series on TV.
I believe the reason it has permeated itself into the lives of those who watched it is not because we couldn’t wait to know what would happen the following week. It was the execution of moments. The family and friend moments that we could all relate to on a weekly basis. The way the siblings interacted with each other when all together or in smaller groups and how each parent had a different relationship with their children was real and believable. The little life moments, that we may not remember in our own lives, are displayed in each and every episode. Even the larger moments, some of which Katims took from his own life (his wife’s breast cancer fight and their autistic son), we see ourselves in and wonder how we would handle these situations. All of these little and large moments are earned and that is extremely rare for a TV show. Katims wrote the finale and it continued his sentiments wholeheartedly. But enough of that: onto the final hour.
I cried for an hour. I cried for a full hour. I didn’t cry because “sad things” were happening. I cried because it was beautiful and I will genuinely miss these people. The closing montage was incredibly satisfying in the way that ‘FNL’ or ‘Scrubs’ was way back when. Here, our favorite family spread their patriarch’s ashes on the little league field ,as they played as a family, bringing the whole series full circle. This show started with baseball and ended with baseball. Baseball, an individual sport played in a team setting, is a great metaphor for this family. They are carving out their own individual paths, but are much stronger as a unit.
Weave this in with flash forwards of what each Braverman family tree branch is up to in the future and you’ve got family television gold. After adopting Victor’s half-sister, the Graham branch not only adds a fourth child, but an adorable puppy. (Communication saved that marriage.) The Luncheonette reopened with the Braverman-Trussells at the helm, Aida with full afro, and another one on the way. Hank and Sarah have cemented themselves at the top of their branch with Ruby, Ryan, two grandchildren, and Amber’s husband (a fatter, balder Jason Street [Scott Porter]) joining the crew. Kristina moves on to working for a non-profit, as Adam takes over as headmaster of Chambers Academy, handing Max his diploma in front of the family. (Adam seemed to be more suited for Chambers Academy than Kristina anyway.) As they walked off into the distance, family both smaller and bigger, we got to say goodbye to them with happy endings and tears of joy.
Sarah moved in with her parents to raise her kids. Now they have a stable and strong nuclear unit. Crosby lived on a boat, unhappily dated Katie (Marguerite Moreau), and did his laundry at his parents’ house with no game plan. Now’s the man that Zeek knew he could be all along. Adam and Kristina were lost in how to raise their autistic son and dramatic daughter, but became great community leaders for many causes. Uptight Julia had a seemingly perfect life, but needed to learn how to be flexible and open after it all fell apart. As we witnessed the relatable trials and tribulations of the Braverman siblings and their families, the believability that all of these characters’ changes were justified always came across as genuine. When Zeek peacefully passes away, having held on to walk his daughter down the aisle, the opening moments of Hank asking for her hand, as well as telling him why the wedding is so soon are all the more poignant, especially knowing how far this family has come since day one. That’s when I realized something that had never truly hit home before.
“Boy, we did good, didn’t we, Camille?” This show was always about Zeek. Everything about this hour and the six seasons was about Zeek. It was a comprehensive snapshot of the legacy that he and Camille put together and help grow. Through bad times and good, they were the trunk to the Braverman family tree. By being told the the stories of Adam, Sarah, Crosby, and Julia, we were essentially seeing his story. In a way, the season 2 scene with Zeek and Amber in the junkyard is this show’s most important. You don’t mess with somebody elses dreams when they are of the highest importance. His family going down the right track with their roots firmly planted in the family he has grown with Camille was always his first priority. I by no means am calling him a saint. He was a stubborn man, who was unfaithful to his wife, and a chronic conversation avoider, but had the biggest most understanding heart of all of the Bravermans. Symbolically, once Sarah walked down the aisle into Hank’s arms, Zeek’s job was done. All of his children were the trunks of their own trees and his heart could no longer go on. When Camille called for him and he didn’t answer, the moments of silence were deafening.
One of the reasons that Zeek didn’t want the surgery is to spare his family the grief of watching him “die.” He went out the way he wanted: peacefully without his kids worrying. I’m glad that there wasn’t a funeral sequence.That somber mood wouldn’t have reflected what the show brought to us every week. His life was celebrated in the final montage by his family’s successes. Some will complain that it was too happy of an ending for mostly everybody. The Braverman’s all getting exactly what they wanted isn’t realistic. Say what you will, but I love watching characters get what they want. Especially ones I love. They all changed enough to have the courage to go out and get what they want for themselves and for their families. Sure, at points the episode felt a little rushed, some conversations seemed inorganic because it was a ‘final episode’ (Haddie/Max), but they were justified in the larger sense of their pre-existing relationship.The thing is, that didn’t matter at all because overall it was an excellent finale for a show that consistently produced great episode, moments, and multitudes of tears.
My intention was that I was going to list all the moments I cried during the finale, but I realized it would be too tedious to list every moment in every scene. (I even teared up during the “Forever Young” opening credits sequence.) The absence of ‘Parenthood’ leaves a gaping hole in my weekly programming and my Braverman heart. It was the show I have most looked forward to for years. This type of show is a dying breed that we may never see the likes of for a while or ever again. It may have been about an upper middle class liberal white family just outside of San Francisco, but its focus on the importance of family is universal. Jason Katims let us be all be Taylors and now a Bravermans. I guess I should start watching it from the beginning again, yes?
Keep on Watchin’!