In a TV landscape filled with “dark and edgy” dramas, Parenthood has spent the last six years as a light shining bright in the darkness. Yes, it was willing to explore sadness and heartbreak and conflict, but there was one element that anchored the show throughout its ups and downs: that focus on love and family, that focus on what exactly makes us human and how we interact with others. It was a show not without its flaws, but it consistently found beauty in the simplest moments, and it wrapped everything up wonderfully in its series finale: “May God Bless and Keep You Always”.
This was very much a final season about aging and moving on and changing, and the finale makes sure to hit those ideas one last time before the Bravermans walk off into the sunset. Zeek Braverman himself embodies those ideas, and his constant brushes with death throughout the season led to his family members having to confront where they were in life, where they wanted to go next. In the finale, we begin to see him come to terms with the inevitable shift in the family, with the inevitable end of life, and Craig T. Nelson is at his best in several lovely moments with his family members: Zeek asking Sarah if he’s been a good father, Hank asking Zeek for his blessing, Zeek and Camille looking on fondly at all their kids, Zeek asking Amber to come live with him and Camille–in a callback to Sarah’s story in the pilot–and of course, Zeek finally taking his last breaths. His death scene is quiet and poignant, and Bonnie Bedelia delivers quite possibly her best performance in that scene; we see her reacting to the death more so than the death itself, and it’s a heartbreakingly beautiful moment to close off Zeek’s story.
Elsewhere, we see relationships going strong again, families growing larger, and people following their dreams. One could categorize it as saccharine, but I tend to view it as simply optimistic. I love seeing the show remember Haddie just in time for the finale. I love seeing Drew giving that speech and Max dancing with that girl and Crosby and Amber taking over the Luncheonette and Adam imparting those culinary skills and Joel and Julia being happy and Hank and Sarah getting married. I love seeing all the Bravermans in one place again, taking family photos as Max is able to find his passion (photos have been essential throughout the series). I love seeing where each and every Braverman is at in the future, whether it be in Paris or at Chambers or with Jason Street or with four kids and a puppy.
And finally, I love seeing the Bravermans back on that baseball field, first spreading Zeek’s ashes and then having a great time with America’s national pasttime. It’s the kind of moment that this show always does extremely well, one in which all we see–and all we need to see–is a group of people who care deeply about other. We laughed and loved and cried with these people for six seasons and 103 episodes, and although it’s all over now, we can always return to that baseball diamond, pick up a bat, and hit the ball as hard as we can. As the ball flies over the fence, we return to home plate, and we’re met with the embrace of a family that will always remain by our sides, that will always remain under our feet, that will always remain in our hearts. That’s Parenthood.
SEASON GRADE: B+
SERIES GRADE: B+
-Six seasons is just the right amount for most shows.
– “In a TV landscape filled with “dark and edgy” dramas, Parenthood has spent the last six years as a light shining bright in the darkness.” I’d also put something like Chuck (which ended a few years ago) under this description.
-There’s a scene with John Corbett’s Seth that was cut from the finale, but it’ll show up on DVD.
-I’ve frequently hated the way the show has portrayed Max–and that’s led to annoyances surrounding Kristina as well–but seeing him graduate is a very nice moment.
-Yikes on that mustache, Drew.
-Some of the songs used throughout the episode: “Always You” by Ingrid Michaelson, “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne, and “Forever Young” by Sam Beam and Rhiannon Giddens. A full list can be found here:
-Hi, Jason Street! Amber just needs Matt Saracen and Tim Riggins to show up now.
-Favorite episodes? Seasons? Characters? Share below.
-Next week in this timeslot, NBC introduces its new failure of a show in Allegiance. It’s pretty much just a cheap ripoff of The Americans.
Photo credit: NBC, Parenthood