SHAKING THE FAMILY TREE
Parenthood invites you to spend time with a family as likeable and infuriating as your own. Guy Davis catches up with the Bravermans, the extended family on the new series.
There are times when we turn on the television in search of a little escapism. For an hour or so, you can put your own life on hold and follow in the footsteps of cops investigating a crime, doctors healing an ailing patient or, if you’re a Dexter fan, a serial killer bumping off his prey.
Personally speaking, I like to slip into the shoes of Mad Men’s Don Draper every once in a while. But that’s my problem, not yours.
Then there are times when we turn on the television with a little recognition in mind. And because not of all of us are idealistic lawyers or
Parenthood revolves around the four Braverman siblings, all of whom are wrestling with life’s various dilemmas … with varying degrees of success.
emergency-room medicos, the family drama tends to be the logical destination.
After all, pretty much all of us have parents, children or siblings that can give our lives meaning or drive us to distraction. ( Or, let’s face it, both.)
As such, the family dynamic – especially one that’s kind of dysfunctional – can provide rich material for a TV series. You just need to look at the continued success of popular viewing such as Seven’s Packed to the Rafters or Brothers & Sisters for an example.
Now Seven has picked up another US series in a similar vein: Parenthood, an adaptation of Ron Howard’s 1989 movie.
It’s actually not the first time the film, which followed the ups and downs of a multi-generational, middle-class American family, has made the move from the big screen to the small. A TV version was launched a year after the release of the movie but despite the presence of a young Leonardo DiCaprio it only lasted a handful of episodes before being cancelled.
Now, with Howard’s production company backing him up, writer-producer Jason Katims ( the terrific Friday Night Lights) has given the ensemble comedy-drama another shot. And the result is a solid, involving series with strong performances from a cast of fine actors.
Basically it revolves around the four Braverman siblings, all of whom are wrestling with life’s various dilemmas … with varying degrees of success.
Eldest son Adam ( Six Feet Under’s Peter Krause) is regarded as the family’s rock, and he’s generally a stable and capable guy, but he’s also easily frustrated and a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome for his young son Max throws both he and his wife Kristina ( Monica Potter) for a loop.
Sarah ( Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls) is a single mother of two who’s struggling to make ends meet, so she’s forced to move back to the family home with father Zeek ( Craig T. Nelson) and mother Camille ( Bonnie Bedelia).
Julia ( Erika Christensen), a high-powered lawyer, seemingly has it much more together than her big sister. But her drive to succeed in her career is starting to cause a rift between her and her young daughter, who feels more attached to her stay-athome dad Joel ( Sam Jaeger).
Youngest sibling Crosby ( Dax Shepard) is the only one without kids, mainly because he has a severe phobia when it comes to commitment. But he may have to overcome that sooner than he thinks.
As with many such family-centred shows, Parenthood works because it offers a bit of something from everyone. Can’t relate to the tightly wound Julia? Wait a little while and the scene shifts to the easygoing Crosby.
But given the overall calibre of the performances ( Graham is a standout, for one) and the writing, it may not be long before you feel like spending time with every member of the Braverman clan.
Raring to go: The cast of new series Parenthood.