This week I, along with the rest of their fans, bid a very sad farewell to my extended family-the Bravermans of NBC’s “Parenthood“.
Photo courtesy of NBC.
I adored this show. The entire cast was outstanding, but any scene Craig T. Nelson was in was his-period. How this man was not even nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance as family patriarch Zeek Braverman is beyond me.
And for anyone who thinks of Ray Romano as a mere comedy actor needs only to watch one second of any of his scenes on this show to realize how wrong that thought is. Romano’s portrayal of Hank Rizzoli, a man who realized he had an undiagnosed case of Asperger’s Syndrome and how it had damaged his life was simply stunning. As was his relationship with Sarah Braverman (the very entertaining Lauren Graham).
Photo courtesy of NBC.
It was one of the first honest portrayals of a couple over 40 who learned how to navigate the murky waters of a real adult relationship by owning the mistakes that led to where they were in their lives, and where they wanted their cautiously optimistic hearts to take them in the future.
The other thing I have loved as much as the diverse group of characters on this show is the music. The series had the perfect backdrop for it because one of the characters, Crosby Braverman (the adorable and funny Dax Shepard) was a music engineer and spent the last seasons as co-owner of the Luncheonette, a fictional recording studio that saw the likes of people like Janis Joplin in its heyday.
The show also paid homage to the 60’s in many other ways: The family lived in the Bay area of California (home to the Flower Power origins, Haight-Ashbury and many other iconic 60’s movements); Nelson’s character was a Vietnam Veteran; his grandson, Drew, was a college student at Berkeley; Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” as the show’s theme song, to name a few.
The musical directors of this show did a phenomenal job with the songs they hand picked for each episode (see list HERE), but two Dylan covers win my praise for the best songs of the show’s varied soundtrack (honorable mention to Cat Steven’s “Wild World” performed by Jimmy Cliff as heard at Hank & Sarah’s wedding).
To conclude season five, Richie Haven’s raw and beautiful acoustic version of “The Times They Are A Changing” sent the Bravermans and their fans off to uncertainty about whether or not there would be a sixth season, but not without the benefit of closure and resolution for all of the characters.
For the last song of season six, the series finale, the producers and writers took us on a flash forward a few years into the future to the beauty of Dylan’s “Forever Young” sung as an exquisite duet by Rhiannon Giddens & Iron and Wine (Sam Beam).
That in and of itself would have elicited enough tears, but just prior to this song, Zeek died. My heart sunk. I predicted this from the first episode of this season when he fainted from a cardiac event and many on-line reports had speculated all season that this death was coming. But I hoped for a happy ending…..a real happy ending, where I could imagine Zeek’s expression when he heard the song his grandkids promised to record in honor of his 80th birthday, or how his eyes would well up with tears at the sight of his oldest son Adam (Peter Krause) walking his daughter Haddie (Sarah Ramos) down the aisle.
But sadly, happy endings are not real, and what made this show so damn good was that it was about a real family with real life issues. Which is what life is. And that includes the bittersweet ending as opposed to the happy ending. For anyone of us who has said goodbye to someone in our own lives, we are all too familiar with the bittersweet. So there really was no way for Zeek’s death not too happen, which is why it hurt so very, very much.
A lot of people do not live to see their 80th birthday. Some people will not have their grandparents present when they get married-or even their parents, for that matter. And like real life, no matter how much time you have, it is just never enough. Six years was not nearly enough time with this family. To borrow a line from Jimmy Webb, “endings always come too fast”, whether they occur in real life or on TV.
Photo courtesy of NBC.
So goodbye, my beloved Braverman family. I will miss the heck out of all of you.
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