By Alan Pergament
In the age of the DVR and On Demand, NBC's "Parenthood" is one of only three series that I watch live and don't time shift.
That's why the first thing I did this morning was to see if NBC announced that the episode at 10 tonight on Channel 2 is the season finale or the series finale.
There was no news about the ratings-challenged series and that's good news.
NBC has been promoting the episode only as the "finale," which made me concerned that the story of the Bravermans was going to end after five seasons.
It would be a crying shame.
"Parenthood" is one of the few series on television that packs an emotional wallop that can lead to weekly tears.
A family drama, it can't relie on murders, fires or scandals to attract audiences.
It certainly can't compete with the ratings of ABC's "Scandal," the popular series that airs opposite it and features a president and a vice president who both are murderers.
Some of my good friends swear by "Scandal" and I've really tried to understand why besides the appeal of star Kerry Washington. But I watch more to educate myself more about people's guilty pleasures and tastes than because I love the craziness of the plot lines.
My taste is more suited to "Parenthood," which has something for every demographic and this season has tugged at the heartstrings in multiple ways that are relatable.
There's the story of the show's patriarch and matriach, Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) and Camille (Bonnie Bedelia), first disagreeing about downsizing the family home and then warmly embracing the idea and each other in a way anyone would want their parents to do.
There's the story of daughter-in-law Kristina (Monica Potter) and son Adam (Peter Krause), fighting for their now teenage son Max (Max Burkholder) with Asperger syndrome to have as normal an education and life experience as possible. Potter, whose character also has battled cancer and a political election, gives a weekly performance that practically demands an Emmy Award.
There's the story of daughter Julia (Erika Christensen) and son-in-law Joel (Sam Jaeger) battling marriage issues. It has led to a separation that has changed the entire Braverman family dramatic, especially with their two confused children. I'm told Julia's pain and discomfort with being in limbo resonates with anyone who has been separated.
There's the story of daughter Sarah (Lauren Graham), trying to sort through her feelings with a photographer, Hank (Ray Romano), a good guy who fears he has Asperger syndrome and is trying to learn how to express himself better. Romano just might get a supporting acting Emmy nomination for playing a sweet guy trying to change himself.
There's the story of Sarah's children, Amber (Meg Whitman) and Drew (Miles Helzer), navigating the new rules of young adult romance that are even more complicated than the old complicated ones. Amber's story is even more complicated because of her broken engagement to a military man who had trouble re-entering society after becoming a civilian and then rejoined the service.
Then there's the comic relief of son Crosby (Dax Shepard), the free spirit of the Braverman children who has settled down with his wife Jasmine (Joy Bryant) and two children but had to move them all into his childhood home because of mold at his family home brought out by his own incompetence.
Of course, this is TV and some of the solutions can seem to be a little too optimistic and manipulative.
But let's face it, we all wish our problems could be easily solved and many of us prefer happy endings and a good cry over murdering presidents and vice presidents.
I'm not so optimistic that NBC will allow "Parenthood" to supply these moving moments for one more season because this entire emotional season seems to have been built toward a series ending.
But I really, really hope that I am wrong and "Parenthood" will be back in some way -- either in a shortened season or in a movie that ends the story with one prolonged good cry.
taggedDrama | Television | TV news