Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Bye Bye Bravermans

Just like much of the current television viewing populace, I very much enjoy a TV drama filled with crazy apocalypse situations or terrible villains that need to be caught. There are after-all an endless array of these playing on TV everyday. But after the cloud of dust stirred up during a New Mexico drug bust clears and all the blood from an intense murder spree is mopped up, there is something to be said about any pure of heart and good-natured series that emerges from all that wreckage.

Without any complicated frills, there is a show that simply focuses on a family. It documents the ups and downs in life that we all have or could eventually experience. It never got as much attention or viewers as its graphic television cousins, which is very sad to admit, especially for something so completely original. Surprisingly, it really is unlike anything else playing on our screens. To top it all off, there's bad news y'all - it just aired its final episode last Thursday.

There is great news for fans and future fans who are destined to discover its magicalness on Netflix (where all past seasons are currently streaming) - the show went out in classy perfection.

What will the the realm of TV look like without a show like Parenthood?  First and foremost, TV land will be missing a true beating heart.

The show really is an emotional cornerstone in today's pop culture. Over the last couple years, Parenthood has become known as the show that will make you "ugly cry" at least once (but more likely a couple times) during every episode. I can attest to its power to make any level headed person a sobbing wreck in no time flat. My tough exteriored bro even broke down during the closing minutes of the finale.

Some may think, "Cry my eyes out? What is this schmaltz!?" Such cold hearted folk! We can all use a little outlet for a cry now and then.  

Parenthood is able to tap into viewers tear ducts so well simply in the way the show mastered the art of writing about and capturing life in an entirely natural way. It was so well done that viewers were given no choice but to highly connect to the stories and characters.

The on point writing, a large, wonderful cast, and the beyond perfect use of songs to play over many of the scenes, also work into gaining that extra personal feel.

Just a quick note about the music - in the finale alone, try to not be utterly SLAYED in the way "Always You" by Ingrid Michelson and the cover of the show's theme song, "Forever Young", sung by Rhiannon Giddens and Iron &Wine, contribute to several moments. I can't even talk about it - I'll just keep getting chills.

Much of the credit for all this heartfelt fan attachment is owed to the creator/writer/director/producer, Jason Katims, who orchestrated it all.

We have all been gifted countless tremendous fictional worlds because of Katims - who also created/wrote the top-notch series, Friday Night Lights. Not to mention, he penned several episodes of the classic My So Called Life, including, in my opinion, an episode that is one of the all time best and most heartbreaking episodes of television ("So-Called Angels"). The man's a genius and really knows how to reach in deep to pull true emotions out of viewers - I think almost anyone on Earth would agree.

In the case of Parenthood alone, Katims will be known for creating a show with a legacy of a family focused television drama that succeeded without all that cheese and over the top nonsense.

There are many moments throughout the series that can sum up the pure, wonderful feeling this show exhibits throughout every minute of the series. There is one scene in particular though that could represent the overall spirit that the show will be remembered for.

One of the main storylines running throughout the series is that one of the kids, Max, has Asperger's syndrome. In one episode, he is the brunt of an unspeakably cruel prank on a school trip and his parents have to come pick him up. In the back seat of the car, Max erupts with pained frustration over why no one likes him.

As he is talking, we look on at his parents (played beautifully by Peter Krause and Monica Potter) faces in the front seat - just one look at those two and you can easily see how completely devastated they are for their son. His mom eventually crawls into the back seat and hugs him, as she is at a loss for what else could possibly help.

It is such a simple and effective scene, powerfully making us all, if you have children or not, understand a parent's fear that their kids won't be treated well in the world. Oh, geez, I got all teary-eyed just remembering that moment. But that's what this show does best - make us feel something.

Even though it may seem like it with how I have described the show so far, the Bravermans aren't always dealing with a crisis. Just like life, there is always opportunity to laugh it off. The terrific writing and the entire marvelous cast, that is completely jam packed with actors who can go from wacky to dramatic yelling in no time flat,  work together to create just as many smile worthy, laugh out loud moments that fall in between all that crying. These small funny moments are almost what I am going to miss more than all the sentimentality.

Many of the lighter scenes, like all those times they have a family dinner, will instantly make you feel like you are watching your aunts and uncles hanging out together goofing off. It's all slightly dorky and you're mostly embarrassed for them, but you also can't help but join in or watch from a far admiring that these are the really fun parts of being a family.

Also, if you haven't seen this show yet, just wait to be introduced to "The Fever". I'll leave you all in suspense.

Six seasons have flown by, and although it is sad to think it has ended, it's hard to argue if a show can be wrapped up as wonderfully as Parenthood did.

To me, while great, the last episode felt a tad rushed, and now especially after seeing that scenes were cut, I wish it could have at least had an extra half hour tacked on. Come on NBC, finales are always longer than a typical episode! I'm just sour with them all over the place - due to how they are also quickly "forcing" out Parks and Recreation, aka, their only other quality show. Sorry Blacklist fans.

There aren't any dragons or goofy scientists or Olivia Pope or whatever kind of person is on NCIS, but Parenthood didn't ever need any gimmicks. Story, natural acting by a group of wonderful performers, and more story - for me that is what always makes something worthwhile. What a delight. Such powerful simplicity will be missed.

Oh, did I mention, this show will make you completely love Dax Shephard. Now that is saying something.

So long Bravermans - until next time. 

P.S. - Seriously fans, band together to get Parenthood much needed accolades in its final year. The petition to get this dang show an Emmy nomination of any sort starts here.

I know in the long scheme of world importance that awards don't mean anything really, but the attention would be a nice send off for such a talented group of folks. If Coach Taylor can win in his final season, Parenthood could too.

Keep The Fever alive and tell your friends. 

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