I don’t know one person who’s started watching Parenthood and had a bad thing to say about it. Even my brother, who has the most bizarre criteria for judging shows (ex. no shows with horses), likes it.
Which makes it even more bizarre that instead of becoming a breakout hit, it’s seen more of a slow burn to popularity. Lack of promotion from NBC should definitely be blamed. But the argument’s also been made that Parenthood’s biggest strength also makes it hard to hook large audiences: it just isn’t a gimicky show you can shake down to a marketable one-liner. It’s a family drama, with quality writing, and characters you love and care for. That should be enough, shouldn’t it?
Each week we watch as the Braverman clan — consisting of Zeek and Camille Braverman, their four kids, and each of their own spouses and offspring — navigate family life in Berkeley, Calif. Over four seasons, sex, bullying, Asperger’s, teen pregnancy, an absentee father, cancer, cheating, the N word, not getting the guy, getting the guy, losing your job, not being able to conceive, adoption, and seeking self-fulfilment have factored into story lines. But again, no laundry list of plotlines can capture this show’s brilliance.
Parenthood is dramatic without veering into soapy. It makes you smile at the light-hearted moments in life’s challenges. It depicts characters with strong senses of self and love and family. In short, it has heart.
If that’s not enough to convince you, here’s a few other reasons it’s time to start watching Parenthood. Now.
1. It’s a great TV show
Didn’t I mention this already? Plain and simple, this is all you really need to know. Most people just catching on now (like, say, Rosie O’Donnell or Kelly Clarkson) can’t believe it’s taken them this long to start watching this greatness. So go on, just jump on the ever-growing bandwagon. You’ll be glad you did it.
2. You will laugh, and you will cry
Just like being part of your real family, you will go through ups and downs with the Bravermans. You will laugh when they do something goofy, and you will cry when someone deals with a challenge. You may also cry during a nice heartwarming moment that reminds you people are good and family is important. But just as you’re texting your friend to let them know you’re crying during Parenthood again, there’ll be a new reason to smile.
3. The cast is stellar
Peter Krause leads this stellar ensemble whose chemistry you can’t help but compare to a real-life family. Craig T. Nelson, Monica Potter, Bonnie Bedelia, Sam Jaeger and Erika Christenson bring their A-game, and even Dax Shephard is likeable on this show. Meanwhile, Mae Whitman and Max Burkholder break out among the young cast, making this show as much about the kids as the adults. (I will admit, you often just have to pretend Syndey doesn’t exist. Not very likeable).
And if you’re a fan of Lauren Graham, then you should love watching her play Lorelai Gilmore six years later on another network! (They call her Sarah Braverman on this show).
Love a handsome family man? Then this show’s for you. Sam Jaeger plays pretty much the epitome of the perfect husband Joel. A stay-at-home dad for the first three seasons, he’s the sweet, patient, understanding dad opposite his rigid, uptight wife Julia played by Erika Christenson. I want to marry him on a weekly basis.
Also, I mentioned Peter Krause, right? Right. When you’re ready come and get it.
5. Your favourite Friday Night Lights players pop up
If you love Friday Night Lights (and of course you love Friday Night Lights), just wait until your favourite faces from Dillon, TX start popping up on Parenthood! Executive producer Jason Katims helmed both shows, and he clearly enjoys casting in the family. So far, we’ve seen FNL alums Michael B. Jordan as a love interest for Haddie, Minka Kelly as Max’s aid, and Derek Phillips as an obnoxious friend of Crosby’s named Billy (imagine that!). Angela Rawna (Vince’s mom) and Jeff Rosick (grown-up Buddy Jr.) have also made appearances. And let’s not forget Parenthood regular Sam Jaeger once popped up on FNL as an Under Armour salesperson.
In season five, Matt Lauria (hunkier than ever!) reprises his role as Amber’s love interest, while Jurnee Smollett’s also joining the cast.
6. It will make you appreciate your parents, and question whether you should ever become one
Oh goodness. If this show reminds me of one thing week after week, it’s that parenthood is hard. I’m exhausted just watching Kristina and Adam learn to raise Max. And Julia struggling to bond with her foster child Victor? Forget it. Then there are those moments where Haddie or Sydney are being complete brats and I think “Gawd, children are just awful to their parents,” who just wait for that one glimmer of gratitude that apparently makes it all worth it. Luckily this show has just as many warm moments of resolve as realistic bickering moments, to remind you that family is indeed beautiful.