I’m not a parent, but the premise of the show is so much more than just a how-to on raising kids… it’s about what it’s like to be a part of a family. It’s about the small moments that you share with the people that you grew up with and the complexities that are left unspoken.
The story revolves around a mother and father living in Emeryville, CA and their four adult children who are raising their children to adulthood. The show is actually based off of a movie starring Steve Martin in the 90’s, but rather than cramming 13 people and multiple story lines into a neat 2 hours, producers wanted each story to breath, grow and become intimate with audiences.
My ears first perked when I heard that the NBC show would be produced by Ron Howard (he originally directed the Parenthood movie). As I heard more about the show, I quickly realized that I had already decided I would like the show before I had even seen an episode. Lauren Graham, the main actress from my favorite show of all time, Gilmore Girls, was going to play the dysfunctional daughter. Dax Sheppard, such a hilarious actor, was going to play the youngest son. The more I heard about all these amazing actors signing onto the show (Monica Potter, Erica Christensen, Mae Whitman, Craig T. Nelson…) and the star-studded producer list, I couldn’t help but grow more excited. And even after all that excitement, the show has never disappointed me.
Because the show has such genius actors, Parenthood audiences become entwined with each story and character as if it were a personal anecdote of their own. One of the grandchildren, Max, has autism, an issue that’s rarely spoken of in movies much less TV. Our hearts dropped when Adam lost his job or when Amber got into a car accident. We laugh at the constant banter between family members and we feel uncomfortable when the arguments (and there are MANY of those) ensue. These characters feel so real, so unrehearsed and so intimate. Side characters come and go (bring Minka Kelly back!), but the family remains a solid unit and rebounds from most problems by relying on each other. The detail that the production strives for is beyond any other show on television. Hattie’s chipped nail polish, Amber’s funky wardrobe, Max’s insect fascination… they’re all such small aspects of the show, but really round out each story to a level of perfection. The show also makes great use out of beautiful California locations. The show doesn’t feel as if it’s set on some Hollywood lot with a static living room scene, it feels like an actual house with clutter and dust. It feels as if the characters are walking down actual streets in San Francisco or eating at a local greasy diner.
I know that there are a lot of shows on TV that you could be watching, but I highly encourage you to check this show out… I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And don’t just tune into the next episode (NBC, Tuesday Feb. 7th). Start from the first episode of the first season on Netflix or Hulu and really get to know each storyline. I really do hope you’ll enjoy the show as much as I do!