Based on the 1989 Ron Howard movie Parenthood, writer Jason Katims has revised the premise into a modern day, one-hour drama that explores the many facets of being a parent. The stellar cast includes Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls), Craig T. Nelson (Coach), and Erika Christensen (Traffic). The intertwining of the many characters is organized by the family connection of the parents, their two sons, their two daughters, plus the in-laws and grandchildren (though the storylines focus primarily on the bloodline brood). It’s the complexity of moderate dysfunction and typical family dilemmas with many points of view—from parents raising young ones, to raising teenagers, to being an adult child dealing with their parents, to being the grandparent that struggles to transition into a new realm of parenthood, and negotiating each of the relationships in the midst of it all.
The pilot episode provides a fast-paced introduction to the characters by diving right into their lives. It immediately builds character development and emotional attachment, and is a surprisingly perfect balance that is sure to leave the audience wanting more. During the opening, you find Sarah Braverman (Lauren Graham) has recently divorced her deadbeat husband. She’s moving back in with her parents and bringing her two teenage children, though first she has to retrieve her daughter and insist she come with her. It’s a refreshing change from the single mother Graham previously played (Lorelai Gilmore), who was more of a friend and less of a mom. Upon Sarah’s arrival back home, you quickly see her place within the family and begin to understand the dynamics at play in the relationships.
The character that intrigues my feminist sensibility the most is Julia Braverman (Erika Christensen), a highly successful lawyer and mother of one, whose husband is a stay-at-home dad. It is clear in this episode that while she enjoys her triumphs within her career, she is saddened that her young daughter is much closer to her husband. Sure, women are capable of doing it all, but the question is whether doing it all makes women happy.
As much as it is great to have all of the options the world can offer, what is often overlooked is the inner turmoil that comes from making sacrifices, especially when it comes to motherhood. It will be very interesting watching how the over-achieving, controlling, people pleasing Julia Braverman navigates her life and deals with her inner conflict.
Parenthood will provide an insightful look into the joy, pain, frustration, and self-discovery that comes with being a parent. After all, no parent or child is perfect, but with a lot of love and striving to do the best with what you do know, parenthood can be a rewarding adventure. And from the looks of it, this new show has the potential to help viewers gain insight as children and parents themselves.