Fans of “Parenthood” are sorry to see the series end, but its creative talents are happy they got one more season to end it properly.
Loosely inspired by the same-named 1989 movie, NBC’s saga of the Braverman family concludes its six-season run at 10 p.m. Thursday. While showrunner Jason Katims and the cast members understandably have hesitated to detail what happens just before the end credits appear for the last time, it’s no secret – thanks especially to their social media accounts – that filming the finale drew tears from virtually everyone involved.
“Our last days were very emotional,” confirmed Lauren Graham, alias the show’s Sarah Braverman, “plus, without giving too much away, we were in a lot of unfamiliar places. This is a show with a real family feeling, and as we began to wrap, the physical pieces were being pulled away. We were literally losing the sets that have been our homes, so it was very symbolic.”
So were the dismissals of other cast members after they did their last scenes … from Peter Krause (Graham’s significant other in real life), Monica Potter and Erika Christensen to Dax Shepard, Sam Jaeger and Mae Whitman, who has played Sarah’s daughter Amber.
“A lot of people got ‘wrapped’ at the same time,” Graham reported. “They announce when it’s someone’s final day, so there were a lot of families there, with people taking pictures. I quickly had to come to New York for work afterward, so it all felt strange.”
As for the way “Parenthood” does end, Graham – whose Sarah has been romantically involved with photographer Hank (Ray Romano) – maintained she’s “very happy with it. I apologize for weeping through much of the last two episodes, but it felt unavoidable because there were so many things resolved, and so many truly emotional things going on.
“For fans who like a good cry, I don’t think they’ll be disappointed, but it’s earned. You don’t want the story to feel manipulative, and to me, it’s a very real ending.”
A “Parenthood” series was tried by NBC and executive producer Ron Howard before, in 1990, with a cast that included David Arquette and a then-teenage Leonardo DiCaprio. Graham originally wasn’t set for the second, ultimately more enduring attempt; Maura Tierney (“The Affair”) was to play Sarah, but health matters led to the part being recast.
Graham didn’t get the same sense of series finality from “Gilmore Girls” after her seven years on that WB/CW show. “We shot a finale that could have worked as a series finale, but also had some loose ends,” she recalled. “I was at a restaurant and the waiter said, ‘Your agent’s on the phone’ … which tells you how long ago it was, because I hardly carried my cellphone on me.
“I went to the bar and picked up the phone, and my agent was like, ‘It’s over.’ There was some negotiating going on, and conflicting pieces of information, so it was a very different feeling. (With ‘Parenthood,’) this was definitely satisfying, and it has closure.”