Farewell, “Parenthood”

Last night’s series finale of Parenthood had me snotting into my tissues for six minutes straight as I watched those flash forward scenes unfold. It was a glimpse into a future that I will never see play out. I felt the loss. I was angry these friends (brothers? sisters?) were leaving me. The cast and crew of Parenthood took me on an emotional, and sometimes painful, journey each and every week and made me wish I was a Braverman. That’s the power of television.


Ironically, it’s the one entertainment medium that I never worked in. (Well, not YET. My dream gig would be to write for one of these TV dramas. Okay, let’s be serious. I’d love to just bring them all coffee.) I worked in music and film, but never television. And, out of the three, television always makes me feel things the biggest. Television makes me invest in characters and stories and makes me vulnerable. And when a television show as magical as Parenthood ends, it hits me hard.

But here’s where I say thanks. Thanks to the writers for the stories. From autism and cancer to drug abuse and interracial coupling, the Parenthood writers were not afraid to go THERE. I felt Adam’s (Peter Krause) pain in the front seat of that car when his son Max talked about being bullied. I was in that junkyard when Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) told his granddaughter Amber that she was not to mess with his dream. I was weeping with Kristina (Monica Potter) when she was in the cancer battle of her life and making final videos for her children. The story lines were deep, raw, and honest.


Thank you to the incredibly talented actors. The love you shared on and off the sound stage was evident on my screen week after week. You WERE family. The mystifying Max Burkholder portrayed the central character of Max Braverman who I watched grow from a disconnected soul to a layered, emotional kid with a clear future. The brilliant Ray Romano as Hank made my heart ache as he tried to create the life he always wanted and deserved with Sarah (Lauren Graham.) I loved how the writers brilliantly weaved together Hank’s and Max’s Asperger’s story lines with photography. Capturing memories was their bond and the theme of the show. I watched the beautiful and complicated mother/daughter relationship between Sarah and Amber (Mae Whitman) unfold while always learning more about the power of forgiveness and unconditional love. By the way, I have a bone to pick with you, Lauren Graham. This is the SECOND TIME you’ve left me like this. (I still mourn you, Gilmore Girls.) Joel and Julia (Sam Jaeger and Erika Christensen) experienced real life struggles with infertility and then the long fight to repair their broken marriage. Crosby (Dax Shepard) grew from a hippie musician to a family man while always wearing his big heart on his sleeve. And then there’s our patriarch Zeek. He was the glue of the Braverman family and this last season was centered on his mortality and how it affected everyone. His quiet death at home at the end of the episode, followed by a baseball game in his honor, was achingly perfect. If Craig T. Nelson doesn’t win the Emmy, then something is wrong in the universe.


As much as I cried,  I did love the season finale. It was beautiful. The family spreads Zeek’s ashes on a baseball diamond just as he wanted. It was sad to watch them play with Zeek absent, but it reminded me again why I loved show – it was about the constant movement of life, love, and family. Then, I got to see Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) finally visit France, Max graduate, Julia and Joel happy with FOUR kids (a nod to the original Braverman clan creator Jason Katims said), Crosby and a pregnant Jasmine (Joy Bryant) still at the Luncheonette, and Sarah and Hank at the head of their dinner table with their family, reminiscent of Zeek and Camille. A smiling Amber is with a new husband and baby while a cleaned-up Ryan (Matt Lauria) returns from a day out with the son they share. They kiss and hug and I have relief knowing they are all okay. That life goes on. But I wanted to shout into my TV and ask them all not to go. Not yet. But I guess I have to say goodbye. Farewell, Parenthood. I’ll never forget the amazing journey. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting me a part of your family. And I’ll still follow you anywhere, Lauren Graham.