“Parenthood” might be the most underrated show on television. It was close to getting cancelled before this sixth and final season, but luckily the network decided to give it a proper goodbye and granted them a stay of execution with a shortened 13-episode season. After it’s mid-season break, we will only have four tear-filled episodes left to hang out with the Braverman clan. This hiatus is the perfect time to catch up with the family. Whether you are one of the faithful (and few) or haven’t watched a single episode, some binge watching along with some binge holiday eating is in order. Want to escape your own family’s madness? Curl up on the couch with the Bravermans. If you come from a close family, you will be reminded of the the trials and joys. If your own familial relations are sub-par, the “Parenthood” family is a great substitute. Being an only child, “Parenthood” has brought out the yearnings to have siblings that I haven’t had since I was a kid.
There are many aspects that make the show great. It is baffling to me that it got overlooked so often by the critics and the awards. It is a large, ensemble cast, but each cast member pulls their own weight. Even the child actors. Max Burkholder plays young Max Braverman who during the course of the series is diagnosed with Asperger’s. He has taken his character from the beginnings of that diagnosis to struggling to live with it to coming into his own and gaining self-acceptance. His portrayal is real and not at all stereotypical. Peter Krause and Lauren Graham are no strangers to episodic television. These TV vets create new characters for you to love, even if you had loved their previous characters and couldn’t see them playing anyone else. That shows talent. The rest of the cast shines, as well. Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia are the patriarch and matriarch of the Bravermans and provide a solid core for the show. Strong female characters are a constant, which lots of shows are lacking. A single mom, a breadwinner wife, a cancer survivor, a candidate for public office; the Braverman women are forces with which to be reckoned. The addition of Ray Romano in the fourth season took me from not being included in the phrase “Everybody Loves Raymond,” into a bonafide Ray Romano lover. I really couldn’t stand him before this show and I was disappointed that he was invading the show that I loved, but he really won me over as the anti-social, grumpy photographer, Hank.
The show deals with a lot of the issues that are typical in television dramas: cheating, divorce, and unplanned pregnancies. But, it also delves into less explored issues, like the Asperger’s diagnosis with children and adults, cancer, charter schools, and struggling small businesses. The Bravermans are put to the test a lot, but the beauty of it is how they stick together and support each other even when their troubles are their own family members. As a result, the viewer’s tear ducts get quite a workout, but it is the good kind of cry; the therapeutic kind. I think I’ve teared up at least once in every episode from sad moments to happy ones. I’m going to miss those weekly cry fests and I’m going to miss the Bravermans.
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