Being a parent is messy and complicated and heartbreaking, BUT has the potential to be hilarious. How do I know this, you ask? Do I have little Jocelyn’s running around my piece ‘o crap apartment? No, but I do have my rat, Posh Spice, and she’s quite the handful herself. I educated myself on the art of parenting with Ron Howard’s Parenthood this past Tuesday!
Written by Jeason Katims, this hour long comedy about the tricks of the world’s oldest trade is an adaptation of Howard’s 1989 film by the same name. It was attempted once before in 1990. That clearly didn’t work out. This time, however, I think we’re off to a great start!
Parenthood, the series, follows the film pretty closely. The general plot points from the film are transferred nicely to television. There are still a few details missing from the pilot that were important in the film, and I can’t wait to see when they rear their hilariously awkward heads.
With a favorite of mine, Lauren Graham, as Sarah Braverman, I knew I’d love it no mater what. With the added bonus Peter Krause (as Adam Braverman) going for just as many jogs as he did in 6 Feet Under, I knew was sure to be a hit! The premise behind Parenthood really works well as a series. Katims did a great job at transforming the character arcs into ones that will be appropriate for television. More drama and more potential for all!
Just to cut confusion, I’ll be referring to characters by their names in the show. They’re different in the film, so keep up!
With recurring plot points, such as Crosby’s son, Jabbar, suddenly becoming known to him and Adam and Kristina’s son, Max, having social issues (in this case, Aspergers), the series stays closely connected to the film. But little changes help the show in its new format, such as Sarah’s daughter, Amber, not getting married in the pilot like she did in the film, and Crosby isn’t a gambling addict this time around. Katims is either picking and choosing his details or saving some good ones for later.
Most issues are still just as relevant now as they were 20 years ago when the film was made. Parenting—the decisions, emotions and responsibilities—doesn’t really change much throughout the ages.
I’d like to look at the casting decisions for Sarah Braverman (Graham), just because it’s been a topic of discussion. My editor at my internship and I were talking about how we prefer Graham in the role to Maura Tierney. We felt that Tierney would have made Sarah too depressing. The character is already down and out and struggling through some very difficult times. Graham’s style of whit and sarcastic humor brings a realistic optimism to the role.
Now, let’s go back and compare Graham’s Sarah Braverman to Dianne Wiest’s equivalent in the ’89 film, Helen Buckman. The soft-spoken Wiest is very timid in comparison to Graham’s Sarah. Technically, these are different characters with different personalities and slightly different problems. When looking at them side by side, both women really hit their roles on the head. Graham takes her sass to Sarah to give her situation hope, and Wiest fights through her quiet nature (with the ever so often hilariously placed outburst) to deal with the radical issues she and her family are faced with.
The pilot of Parenhood reminded me of a Nancy Myers film set to television. We’re in this beautiful house with beautiful and stylish people saying silly things and finding themselves in all sorts of middle-class relationship nonsense! Yet it also has the seriousness of other television shows like Friday Night Lights, which deals with very serious social issues.
With so many different story lines, and great characters like Dax Shepard’s Crosby and Craig T. Nelson as the no nonsense head of the household (with his rough and tumble ways and strong survival of the fitest vibe), Zeek Braverman, the potential for strong narrative and character development is definitely there. I see it growing into something really great. That or it’ll fizzle out after the second season. Let’s hope for the former!
I’ll be tuning in again this Tuesday at 10 PM EST on NBC to see what gonna go down next with the Braverman brood! Maybe they’ll give me tips on how to tell Posh to stop chewing her water bottle so loudly at night. It’s so hard being a mommy. Long live Parenthood!