Beginning Thursday night, “Parenthood” embarks on its final 13 episodes. Thankfully, the series has been given the opportunity to close out its run in a rather leisurely fashion and has not been subjected to an abrupt cancellation with little time to bring all of the Braverman storylines to a satisfying conclusion.
But before the screen fades to black on this complicated family, there is plenty of story left to tell, plenty of highs and lows to experience.
If history is any indication, showrunner Jason Katims will provide an extremely pleasing end to the series after six seasons, just as he did for another fan favorite about complex family life, “Friday Night Lights.”
In a note to the media, Katims expressed his gratitude to the powers that be at NBC for giving him “The opportunity to give ‘Parenthood’ the sendoff it deserves.” He goes on to say, “I saw it as both a gift and an assignment that I do not take lightly. I felt a responsibility to fans, to our cast and crew, and to myself to make this season everything the first five seasons have been and then some.”
In that same communication, Katims mentioned that he and the writers have already mapped out all thirteen episodes. “Not to jinx it,” he writes, “but I feel we are onto something very special here.”
If the opening episode is any indication, Katims is absolutely right.
Never known for proceeding at a leisurely pace, the opening episode stays true to form by jumping from place to place, from Braverman to Braverman, in order to update viewers quickly about what’s happening in each branch of this extended family.
Then the show moves right into the heart of the matter – how everyone is coping with whatever they have going on in their lives…. and, as usual, there’s a lot going on: Adam and Kristina are struggling to run their charter school, Joel and Julia are grappling with the effect their separation has had on their kids, Sarah and Amber try to work through some difficult mother/daughter issues while Zeek and Camille face some tough decisions about their future that will affect everyone in the family.
Of course, there’s also Crosby and Jasmine, Hank, Haddie and Max, as well as Sydney, Victor, and Drew, all of whom have their own issues.
Remaining faithful to its name, “Parenthood” stays the course and begins the season with an installment that truly is all about the job of being a parent, particularly what lengths parents are willing to go through to ensure the best possible life for their children. While that would seem like a rather common theme that’s been explored in thousands of different ways, and it has, it’s the fact that this is set against the backdrop of this particular family that makes the subject matter seem so fresh and ultimately so relatable to the masses.
Each individual in this group resists change and battles uncertainty on their own using their own unique methods, but it’s the way that they all get involved in each others lives that makes the narrative so utterly believable because that’s precisely what family does; they butt in, they provoke, cajole, comfort and confuse. They offer much needed or unwanted advice, but in the end, they’re there for whatever purpose might be needed and that’s the bottom line; these people need each other, whether they like it or not and that’s the most incredibly realistic part of this whole show.
At one point, Adam declares sarcastically, “This family is sick,” and at many turns viewers will agree wholeheartedly with that statement, but that’s what makes “Parenthood” so good – everyone, no matter the make-up of your own clan, can see some of yourself and your family in these people – for better or worse.
Above all else, Thursday night the Bravermans are back and it feels oh so good to see them all again, no matter how complicated things get.
The final season of “Parenthood” premieres Thursday at 10/9c on NBC.
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