This post contains spoilers about NBC’s Parenthood, so if you don’t want it ruined, skip this post.
Sometimes I feel like I watch too much TV. I’m usually Netflixing it up at least once a day, but there are three shows that I watch in real time, when they air each week: Downton Abbey, Mad Men, and Parenthood.
If you watch Parenthood, then you will totally understand everything I’m about to say. If you don’t, then I pray this will persuade you to start it. Just be sure that you have enough emotional strength to withstand it in a short amount of time, because you will most likely binge-watch it in one week.
Despite my feelings of over-indulgence when it comes to TV shows, I never feel this way when I watch Parenthood. It can never be too much, it is never enough. I want the episode to keep going. I’m screaming, “Please, NBC, don’t end the episode with the credits and preview of the episode I have to wait a full week to see. Just show me now. Please!”
That may sound extreme (it is), but unless you’ve been watching this show from the beginning like I have, you won’t get it. It feels like we’re losing something, like a piece of my life is going to be gone.
This is not just a show, it is something that has become a real part of my life. The Braverman family has faced things that we all face in life, and the pretend lives of these characters have helped me through it. The members of this fictional family have become tangible to me, and there are so many similarities to my own family, it’s impossible for me not to love them. I think that is why so many people love the show, because they see their own families in these people.
Think of something that has been difficult for you and your family. Sickness, disabilities, death, marriage, finances, infertility, relationships, raising children, growing up, drug addiction — all of these things (and a million others) are discussed on this show in the most beautiful and heartbreaking ways. They are not sugar-coated, they are raw and in your face and show you the best and worst of life and family.
Kristina gets cancer and nearly dies. Max has Asberger’s. Haddie falls in love with another girl. Adam and Crosby fight and fail with their business. Amber has a baby who she will raise on her own. Joel and Julia separate and almost get a divorce. Sarah battles with a drug-addicted husband. Drew’s girlfriend gets an abortion. Jasmine has to choose between her career and her family. Camille finds herself late in life. And Zeek…oh, Zeek. He holds them all together somehow. He is tough but loving, hard-headed but kind. And now, in the last stretch of the show, he is sick. The best part of him — his heart — is failing him.
I can’t explain how incredible this show is, but I can tell you that I cry every single week, and have such extreme emotions that my husband often makes fun of me (even though he is choking back the tears over there, too). When Zeek took Amber (then out of control) to the junkyard and looked at her demolished car that she should have died in, I bawled. When Adam prays to a God he’s unsure of to please spare Kristina from cancer, I wept. When Joel and Julia finally get back together, I shouted and clapped like my team had just won the game. When Crosby and Jasmine couldn’t afford to take Jabbar to Harry Potter World and had him a Harry Potter-themed surprise party instead, I laugh-cried with glee. When Sarah tells Zeek that she and Hank are engaged and Zeek, knowing he is so sick, says “I can’t wait to walk you down the aisle,” and Sarah is holding back tears, I thought I would crawl out of my skin from such heartbreak.
This show will kill you. It will smash you to pieces and then build you back up again. It will break your heart, then mend it with scenes of family and love. It is moving because it is so real and shows you the true meaning of life as a family. It shows you that life can be scary and impossible, but if you have your family, you have an army to fight off the bad bits. This family experiences everything and sticks together. They fight and get mad and might hate each other for a minute, but in the end, they do what a family is supposed to do — get through it and dance in the kitchen.
I’m not ready to say goodbye to the Bravermans. I’ll miss Adam’s intensity, Sarah’s wit, Julia’s strength and Crosby’s fearlessness. Kristina is super-mom, Hank is adorably awkward, Joel is incredible and sensitive, and Jasmine can make you rethink everything you’ve ever thought. Haddie is brave, Max is brilliant, Sydney is too smart for her own good, Victor is strong and resilient, Jabbar is full of life, Drew is sweet and nurturing, Aida and Nora are adorable, and I’ll never be as cool as Amber. Camille and Zeek have raised amazing, loud, loving children, and they have created this huge, wild family together.
These are characters in a show. I know that. But I don’t care. The Bravermans love each other to a point of insanity, not unlike my own family. My own family has experienced its share of heartache, arguments and rough patches. We also can be controlling and intense and maddening. We take pride in our name and our tribe. And we, too, like to dance it out in the kitchen. I get it.
The Bravermans have inspired me to be better, to handle things differently, to hold my family tighter and laugh with my siblings more. They showed me that it’s okay to take risks sometimes, and that your family will be there even if you fail. They have moved me and opened up the emotions I was hiding, even when I didn’t know what they were myself. They have been like a real family, and I’ll be sending them off like any good Braverman would — with a bottle of wine and a Bob Dylan song.
You can’t choose where you come from or what family you’re born into, but you can choose how you love them. I choose to love mine like a Braverman.
Goodbye, Bravermans. Thank you for showing us all how to be better families.