I’ve only seen Jason Katims’ family drama “Parenthood” twice in its entirety, and I’ve been waiting patiently to revisit one of my favorite shows of all time. Spun tangentially from the 1989 Ron Howard–helmed film of the same name, the show revolves around multiple generations of the Braverman family in Berkeley, California. The NBC series won multiple awards, and Katims pulled in Howard and Brian Grazer as producers. In other words, the show has a pedigree.
Now I think it’s high time to hang out with the Bravermans again in a big, albeit different, way. Not only do we all need to rewatch the original 103 episodes, but we also need a reboot. I’m always scared of having too much of a good thing, but I think a limited series revival of six to eight 90-minute episodes is in order. A short run will keep the plot focused, and longer episodes will highlight the show’s inherent cinematic feel.
Here’s why we need the Bravermans back in our lives.
Max Deserves the Spotlight in His 20s
Max Braverman (Max Burkholder) is the thesis for the entire show — the most necessary member of the entire Braverman family. He’s the raison d’être, the sentient center around which his parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents pivot. He isn’t the narrator, but it’s Max’s relationships with the others that highlight the best versions of themselves.
Early in Season 1, the audience learns alongside most of the Bravermans that 8-year-old Max has been diagnosed with what was then called Asperger’s syndrome, which, understandably, changes a lot of family dynamics. Burkholder’s acting at such a young age is breathtaking. I’m not an expert on autism spectrum disorders and I can’t testify that the show’s representation was flawless, but I thought the topic was handled with sensitivity and candor. It brought to light the fact that human beings live and learn in myriad ways, and I believe the portrayal led to some much-needed mainstream awareness and exposure.
A reboot would be a chance to not only examine autism spectrum disorders in more detail, but also give us the opportunity to see Max navigating the world as a man in his mid-20s. His life would no doubt be completely different than when we left him.
Crosby’s Diverse Family Brings Needed Representation
I have a TV archetype weakness: the bad boy. I even named my dog McKay after the quintessential bad boy, Dylan McKay (Luke Perry), from “Beverly Hills, 90210.” In “Parenthood,” Crosby Braverman (Dax Shepard) plays the bad-boy role exquisitely, and I’d like to see what Crosby is up to in 2024. I have also since discovered, mostly via his podcast, “Armchair Expert,” that Shepard is incredibly annoying in real life. I need to appreciate him again via the much more attractive Crosby.
Very early in the first season of “Parenthood,” Crosby discovers he’s the father of a biracial 5-year-old boy, Jabbar (Tyree Brown). Jabbar’s mother, Jasmine Trussell (Joy Bryant), had been in a relationship with Crosby years before but hadn’t shared the pregnancy with him partly because of his bad-boy persona. Over the course of the show, however, the couple reunites, marries, and has a second child, Aida.
The biracial aspect of the Braverman family adds diversity to the cast, and a reboot would give the series the chance to embrace even more of it. Jabbar would be college-age now, and Aida almost a teenager. Because the rest of the kids who were teenagers during the show’s initial run are now all grown up, a revival would be a chance to see the next generation — and perhaps open the door for more representative cast members to be involved.
Camille Should Explore Life as a Widow
Camille Braverman (Bonnie Bedelia) is a badass who is a great example to women of all ages. Camille spent the first half of her life serving her busy family as a stay-at-home mother to four very dynamic children. When we meet her in her early 60s, however, she is ready to be her own woman and follow her own passions. She has always been a loving wife to her (mostly) loving husband, Zeek (Craig T. Nelson), but she doesn’t hesitate very long when deciding to run off to Italy for a spell of solitude and to take art lessons. She knows there’s only one life to live, and she’s ready to make her own path — a lesson for us all.
Speaking of Zeek, “Parenthood” isn’t the type of show to conveniently forget things (like that fourth Conner baby from “Roseanne” who didn’t surface in “The Conners” reboot), so unfortunately, Zeek, who — spoiler alert! — dies in the “Parenthood” series finale, would have to stay dead in the revival.
But that’s OK. Camille was at her best when forced to stand on her own, particularly if that standing was literal. In front of an easel with a paintbrush in her hand is where Camille came to life. I would very much miss Zeek, but I would love to see what doors his absence has opened for Camille.
We Need More Lorelai on Our Screens
I know, I know — wrong show. Lauren Graham beautifully plays Sarah Braverman on “Parenthood,” but Graham’s Lorelai Gilmore from “Gilmore Girls” is my all-time favorite TV character and a personal hero. That sometimes makes it difficult to look past the Lorelai of it all when I watch Graham on “Parenthood.” I could even argue Sarah is just a darker, more realistic version of Lorelai. They’re both funny, clever, and a little snarky in the warmest possible way. Lorelai’s backdrop of the brightly colored, eccentric pop of loveliness that is Stars Hollow renders her a bit too fantastical — too impossible for reality — but Sarah Braverman’s relatable and sometimes grim surroundings make her a far more accessible character.
Frankly, I’ll take just about any version of Lorelai I can get; every television show is made better by the presence of Queen Lauren Graham. In all seriousness, Sarah deserves a chance to live on. When we left her, she had just married Ray Barone — I mean Hank Rizzoli, played by “Everybody Loves Raymond” star Ray Romano. Hank learns through his friendship with young Max that he also has Asperger’s syndrome, which had gone unrecognized his entire life. Seeing a middle-aged man grapple with some of the same problems Max dealt with is fascinating, and the storyline was just getting started as the series ended. I’d love to see a new look at Sarah and Hank’s marriage, almost a decade later.
Granted, Graham may find it awkward to reunite professionally with former partner and “Parenthood” co-star Peter Krause, who played her brother Adam Braverman, after ending their long-term real-life relationship, but people do it all the time! Just ask “One Tree Hill” stars Sophia Bush and Chad Michael Murray. Or Sophia Bush and James Lafferty. Or Sophia Bush and Austin Nichols. You get the idea.
There’s No Better Family Comfort
Almost every time I see outdoor string lights, I’m mentally thrust back into the Bravermans’ large, sparkly backyard where they ate so many family meals together and displayed an incredible camaraderie. I need to feel that feeling via a TV show again. I have since searched for that fun familial bond via other popular family dramas, but they all fell flat, including — maybe especially — “This Is Us.”
I had such high hopes that “This Is Us” would fill the “Parenthood” void in my heart. I liked the characters and I cried during just about every episode, but between viewings, nothing stuck with me. I stopped watching after a few seasons, and my only real memory of the show involves a Crock-Pot. On the other hand, I remember so much about “Parenthood,” even eight years after my last viewing.
We’re more or less living in a post-COVID world, and we need the familial comforts of yesteryear to bridge the gap the pandemic created. Since no other family dramas have stacked up to “Parenthood” in its wake, let’s bring it back so we can wrap ourselves in that cozy Braverman blanket. I’m ready to virtually join the characters around their family table again, and I hope Katims is close to ready to set that table for us.
Even if “Parenthood” doesn’t get a reboot, I have certainly talked myself into a rewatch.