Friday, May 20, 2011

Slice of Pop Culture Life: An Evening with 'Parenthood'...


One of the best things about the NBC drama Parenthood is not necessary the intensely heavy emotional work of its actors. But nor is it simply the lighter, more comedic moments that often occur when the fabulous (and fabulously flawed) family members gather together. No, instead the beauty of this show is in the balance. One minute they will have you laughing out loud and wishing you, too, were standing around the kitchen preparing a big meal and making fun of the way Kristina (Monica Potter) dresses or the fact that Adam (Peter Krause) came home high without even realizing it, and the next minute they will have you crying-- with literal tears streaming down your cheeks-- with Julia (Erika Christensen)'s struggle to have another baby or Zeek (Craig T. Nelson)'s tough, but oh, so true, love approach to advice. And as the cast and producers like to say, "Isn't that just life?" We aren't always fully prepared; we don't always react in the best way; but we power through, and when we're surrounded by such a supportive clan as the Bravermans, we can get through anything.

Though Zeek is the patriarch of the Bravermans, executive producer Jason Katims is the true patriarch of Parenthood. No stranger to taking a film as source material and adapting it to a rich, compelling weekly series (*cough, Friday Night Lights, cough*), Katims was quick to point to his cast for taking the show to the next level during the special Q&A in Los Angeles last night. For example, he spoke of the character of Jasmine, who was only in one scene in the pilot. When he was lucky enough to get Joy Bryant in the role, he knew he had to keep writing for her. And Bryant is thrilled to be able to be a part of a type of couple on television that event twenty years ago would be a big deal.

"The fact that we are an interracial couple but no one cares is amazing," Bryant pointed out. They are just a couple like any of the others. They are reflecting the world back to us as we now see it and actually giving a good number of society a representation in the arts.

Lauren Graham, who had just played a single mother quite famously in Gilmore Girls, has admitted that she was looking for anything but once that series came to an end. But when she got the Parenthood script she didn't see Sarah Braverman as just a single mother. In fact, she didn't really see her as a single mother at all: "I saw this woman who was just struggling," she said simply. And that spoke to her. And of course the opportunity to play with the rest of the cast and insert some of herself into the role helped immensely.

"It's that sense of play," director Lawrence Trilling explained. "You know, with the kids we found we don't have to tell them to remember to play because it's just what they do. As you get older and you get more calluses you may be guarded, you may have to recall back to your own childhood, but with the kids, they don't have to remember."

To their credit, though, the entire Parenthood cast seems to be extremely comfortable with that looser attitude towards acting. There are no walls; there are no inhibitions; there are no egos. They go up against each other interchangeably in scenes, and they always deliver something special.

When a fan in the audience asked how the cast felt about the "backlash" from Crosby (Dax Shepard) sleeping with Gaby (Minka Kelly), some of them were noticeably surprised to even hear such a thing. "It's just life," everyone echoed the theme of the evening and theme of the show. Sometimes someone you love breaks your heart and you have to find a way to move on and move past it. Sometimes you make a mistake that you think is fine in the moment but then it blows up on you later when you really realize the consequences. Sometimes it divides people. But sometimes it brings them together, too. And watching Parenthood with your own family or friends will certainly bring you together!

For some scoop on season three of Parenthood, please click here.

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