I’m as deflated as a football in a New England Patriots game because NBC’s “Parenthood” is over.
But at least Thursday’s finale hit a home run in so many ways.
It was touching, it was sweet, it was understated, it fulfilled every expectation of the audience that has loved the Bravermans over six seasons.
If you are a “Parenthood” fan like I am but haven’t seen the finale, you probably should stop reading because I’m about to give away a lot of spoilers.
My column last Saturday with writer-producer Jason Katims ended with me suggesting that the usual way to bring everyone together in a finale is to have a wedding, the birth of a child, a funeral or a graduation and asking if there was any chance one of them would be happening in the finale.
“Maybe any, maybe all,” said Katims with a smile.
Sure enough, all of those things occurred in Thursday’s finale. And every one of them was uplifting.
Joel (Sam Jaeger) and Julia (Erika Christensen) added to their family by adopting the baby sister of their adopted son.
Sarah (Lauren Graham) and Hank (Ray Romano) expedited their marriage so Sarah’s father Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) could walk his favorite child – he told Sarah that in an earlier scene – down the aisle. Hank chose his stepson Drew (Miles Helzer) to be his best man and Drew proceeded to give a beautiful toast that showed how much he appreciated the single mother who raised him.
Max (Max Burkholder), the son of Adam (Peter Krause) and Kristina (Monica Potter) with Asperger’s syndrome, graduated from the school they founded for students with similar issues.
Zeek (Nelson), who has had heart problems all season, died in his sleep and was discovered by his loving wife Camille (Bonnie Bedelia). Thankfully, there were no maudlin final words of how much he loved her and everyone in the family. They had all been said this season.
Best of all, Zeek’s death led to a framing device that enabled Katims to show where all these characters would be three years down the road as he did in the finale of “Friday Night Lights,” and as he said he would in my interview with him.
The family spread Zeek’s ashes at his favorite baseball field and then played a joyous game in celebration as the show’s theme song, “Forever Young,” played in the background. No dialogue was spoken by the characters as the final five minutes played out.
As several Bravermans touched home plate – how’s that for symbolism? – viewers learned how happy they would be in the future. They found happiness in their jobs, their leisure activities and, more importantly, in their family life. Some cynics might think there was too much happiness. But if any family deserved it, the Bravermans would be that family after all the problems they have had over the years.
Camille went to Europe to paint, Crosby (Dax Shepard) found success with his niece Amber (Mae Whitman) in the music business he almost closed, Adam found happiness running the school he co-founded, Max graduated, and Sarah and Hank enjoyed family meals with their extended family.
No words were needed in all those scenes, which celebrated family life – and family resilience.
It was a beautiful way to end the kind of emotional, family series with small but relatable plot lines that, as I’ve said before, most likely will never be seen on network television again.
That’s the only deflating thing to think about after watching a four-star goodbye.