Well, this is it — tonight (Thursday, January 29th), the NBC television show “Parenthood” will air for the last time. It’s the series’ finale and then the Bravermans will join the Cleavers, Bunkers and Seinfelds in the hallowed halls of great television families.
Now you might disagree with that statement but let me school you and tell you why I’ve happily watched every episode of “Parenthood” during its five year run. I watch because it’s virtually the only one-hour network television show (and there aren’t that many on cable either) that is NOT about crime. Can you name any other? “The Good Wife” is often about crime, even though it masquerades as a legal show.
“Parenthood” was different. It was a television program about human relationships and how refreshing was that? Because, when you think about it, aren’t way more of us more touched by relationships in our lives — good or bad — than we are affected by crime? Come on, that’s the truth for most people.
Some (like my wife) think “Parenthood” was too sappy and, yes, it had its sugary moments but for the most part, it explored familial relationship between parents and kids, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, even grandparents and grandkids. It made its points and made them well and exposed a lot of people to Aspergers Syndrome through the character of Max Braverman. It didn’t shy away from the tough aspects of the syndrome and the problems it created for Max’s parents, even if that meant we had to listen to the annoying nasal voice of Max’s mother, Kristina Braverman, the most annoying woman on television.
You want diversity? “Parenthood” also explored inter-racial relationships, gay relationships, the PTSD affecting military veterans, bullying, sibling rivalry, heart disease, sex, aging parents, drug use, alcoholism, dysfunctional adults…..you name it, “Parenthood” explored it. It got millions of viewers to watch and care each week without resorting to dead bodies, car crashes, serial killers or crime.
And let’s not forget that “Parenthood” was a drama, not a comedy. There are a lot of half-hour sit-coms on that are not about crime. No but they’re all about vagina and penis jokes and that’s what keeps them on the air.
My favorite character probably always was Zeke, the patriarch of this crazy brood. He didn’t work, he was corny, sometimes belligerent and stubborn, and not always right but he believed in family above all else and kept his clan together.
Again, “Parenthood” was a rare beast. It was a show about human frailty. There’s no one-hour dramatic show on television now like it and I think it will be a long while until something replaces it.