“Parenthood” aired the moving series finale on Jan. 29 on NBC. According to a TVLine report, the final episode had series high ratings. This is undoubtedly no surprise to loyal fans who passionately embraced the show, because every week it tapped into the beating heart of an average American family and explored issues many families face. Against a landscape filled with grisly crime and high-concept fantasy series, “Parenthood’s” rich and heartfelt stories were always refreshing. Plus, with multiple generations in the Braverman clan, the show offered something for viewers of all ages. And now it’s done. Sniff, sniff.
Like nearly every episode across its six seasons “May God Bless and Keep You Always” brings a mix of happiness and tears. Therefore, it’s immediately essential to have Kleenex on hand in mass quantity. The entire episode revolves around a happy occasion: Hank (Ray Romano) and Sarah’s (Lauren Graham) wedding. Weddings are joyous occasions overall. But, this one gives “Parenthood” fans plenty of reasons to openly weep. Take for instance, Hank’s heartfelt request for Zeek’s (Craig T. Nelson) blessing. How sweet is this? Especially when Hank tells a clueless Zeek about his Asperger’s. Zeek handles it so well and it’s such a moving scene.
It’s impossible not to cry, especially, when Zeek asks Hank to take care of his daughter (with a trembling voice) and he realizes why she wants to get married so fast. Obviously, so he will still be alive to walk her down the aisle. We’re sadly reminded of the uncertainty of Zeek’s days and many of us even contemplate our own mortality. Craig T. Nelson painted a perfectly loving, cranky, generous, stern, flawed and wonderful father figure with his amazing portrayal of Zeek Braverman. Bravo, Craig and hats off to Zeek for being so kind to Hank in this important-yet-awkward moment for his future son-in-law.
The wedding is lovely. Sarah looks radiant and Drew’s (Miles Heizer) toast as best man is so sweet. Watching Drew and Amber (Mae Whitman) grow from kids into adults over the course of the series has been a beautiful thing. Two more immensely emotional moments come when Zeek asks Sarah if he’s been a good father and then tells her she was always his favorite child. Aww … what a great parting gift for both of them. Then, Drew recognizes his mother’s selflessness during his toast and she gets choked up. It’s probably time to bust out the fresh, second box of Kleenex here.
Can anyone believe Amber is actually a mom, now? It’s so precious that Zeek and Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) ask her and the baby to move in with them, so they can “share their third act” with the two of them. Here’s another brilliant example of how “Parenthood” illustrates boundless, unconditional family love and with each new addition to a family, comes a whole new well-spring of love. Amber is very brave to raise her child alone. But, she’s got a wonderful support system in her big, loving, sprawling family.
It’s also nice when Zeek gives Crosby (Dax Shepard) the vote of confidence he needs to keep The Luncheonette open on his own. Many families have someone who “grows up” at a slower pace than others. It seems like Crosby has finally come into his own. A dream is a dream and with enough determination and effort, anything can happen. It’s icing on the cake when Crosby asks Amber to stay on while he becomes “the new Adam” and she can be “the new Crosby.” Go team Luncheonette!
Everyone is basically happy with Adam (Peter Krause) taking over as headmaster at Chambers Academy and Joel (Sam Jaeger) and Julia (Erika Christensen) adopting Victor’s baby sister. But, the ending we feared all season finally happens when Camille finds Zeek dead in his chair in the living room. We knew this was coming, but it’s still so hard to take. Can we hear a collective sob, please?
The family gives Zeek a perfect send off by spreading some of his ashes at their baseball field. They all hug and play the game, while flash forwards of each family member play out. It’s bittersweet to see Camille go to the Paris bed and breakfast Zeek was going to take her to. And, isn’t it fun that Joel and Julia have a fourth baby? Amber ends up married, with another child, as Ryan (Matt Lauria) brings little Zeek home from visitation. (Yay that he gets to be part of his son’s life!)
Meanwhile, Crosby and Jasmine succeed at the studio. Their kids have grown and another is on the way. Adam and Kristina (Monica Potter) look on as Max graduates and his genuine smile seems almost as momentous as the grand occasion. “Parenthood” should forever be commended for raising such beautiful awareness of Autism and Asperger’s via Max Burkholder’s incredible work as Max Braverman. Max reached a lot of plateaus in the series, including his first dance with a girl Woot, woot!
So, everyone’s going to live happily ever after and a whole pack of new Bravermans will fill the family tree. It seems like six years has gone by really fast. It’s been amazing to share these beloved characters’ individual and collective journeys. The entire cast and crew has done an incredible job bringing an ordinary, yet somehow extraordinary family to life.
Overall, we’ve laughed and cried with them, shared their struggles and celebrated their victories. While it’s terrible to bid the Bravermans farewell, we’ll remain forever grateful for all they made us feel. And perhaps the most beautiful thing for most of us is that we will come away from “Parenthood” cherishing our own families even more.