The final episode of Parenthood aired last night so I thought it was fitting that I do a series review.
*GENERAL SERIES SPOILERS TO FOLLOW*
Parenthood was a show that took me completely by surprise. At first I thought, “Why would I want to watch this? I don’t have my own family. I’m not a parent.” But Parenthood made me fall in love with all of the characters and an idea that was unfamiliar to me and yet beautiful all the same.
Parenthood opened my eyes to the way that a large family communicates, how relationships differ between siblings when they’re grown up, and how their children get along or don’t. It showed financial struggle, disability, health crises, single parenthood, mental health, sexuality, and so many other crucial familial issues through the lens of one family and how they managed their struggles as a team. It showed how every member of the family had the potential to be affected and moved differently by the same struggles and how they responded to support from one another.
I loved watching their story unfold and though I believe the show wrapped up well, I’m sorry to see it go.
I felt connected to each of the characters at one point or another over the last several years. There were times when I felt lost like Sarah and her daughter Amber, pushed down by the world and confused about what to do next. There were times that I felt withdrawn like Drew or practical like Adam or passionate like Christina. There were moments when I felt inspired by Crosby’s creative dreams, even though I’m much more like rule-book following Julia when all is said and done.
And there were times when I envied what I saw. The Bravermans were never a perfect family, but they loved one another. No matter how bad the fight or disagreement, they always found their way back. They supported one another no matter what, banded together during hard times, and somehow always seemed to know what the other needed, even when they were too stubborn to see it themselves or ask for help.
My favorite couple was Julia and Joel. They were the youngest of the siblings, but worked seamlessly as a team…until they didn’t. Watching Julia and Joel’s relationship unfold through an adoption, unemployment, and separation has been almost heartbreakingly realistic. And their reactions to all of it – putting their kids first and struggling to define themselves at the same time – has been beautifully orchestrated over the final season and a half. I’ve loved watching them grow, watching their family change, and I’m glad their story came full circle.
However, my favorite character overall is Adam. I didn’t connect with him at first, but he definitely grew on me over time. He’s a bit stiff on first meeting and he never steps out of his big brother shoes, but he’s also fun and quirky. He’s the kind of guy who teaches his nephew how to dance, has unending patience for his autistic son, and is always the first person you call when you need help or when you need someone to tell you the truths that you don’t actually want to hear. But he’s not perfect, either. He lost his way when he lost his job, broke down when his wife was ill with cancer, and sometimes his personality gets overshadowed by all the people he puts before himself. Its admirable, but not a sustainable way of life; eventually someone will be let down, possibly even Adam himself.
A lot of people have walked away from Parenthood since it first aired. In their opinion it’s become too melodramatic or sad or cliché. And though it’s true that there are more moments this past season that have upset me, I also think that the show tried to wrap things up realistically. The writers and producers have done the best that they could to give the Bravermans the endings that they deserved. Amber became a mother, Joel and Julia reunited and grew their family, Sarah and Hank got married. Christina got to see her dream of a school come true, Adam found his passion in teaching, Hattie and Drew went off to college, and Max discovered a love for photography. There’s a lot of positive things happening in the Braverman family, even if what happened to Zeke, the center of their family, may seem to overshadow it. But that’s how it is with real families, too. Tragedies make us forget for a while all the wonderful things in our lives. For a while we’re consumed in sadness, but eventually we’re reminded of all the people and things to be grateful for. And I think, at the end of the day, the Bravermans have a lot to live for. They have each other and that’s what really matters; it’s what the whole show has been about.
I would wholeheartedly recommend this show. It’s a drama without being dramatic and its wholesome without being preachy. I’ve loved every episode of this show and I honestly hope that others find the same joy while watching it.