As much as I have enjoyed any TV show, for me, there’s always a certain amount of giddiness that accompanies a beloved program’s series finale — particularly if its a show that boasts a spectacular cast like Parenthood. After six seasons of loyalty, I can’t say that I’m thrilled with the way Parenthood has wound down to its bittersweet conclusion — cynic that I am, I could’ve done without the Joel/Julia reconciliation. But that has nothing to do with why I’m sort of happy to see my favorite weekly sap-fest say goodbye.
A long-running series is like prison for your favorite actor — albeit incarceration with a steady and, hopefully, hefty paycheck. I loved watching Peter Krause as the responsible and loving Adam Braverman for all these years. But he was great on Six Feet Under before that, and on SportsNight before that. Lauren Graham’s doting, imperfect, single mother Sarah Braverman was wonderfully layered.. as was her doting, imperfect single mother Lorelai Gilmore on The Gilmore Girls. In other words, Parenthood had a deep and talented bench. Though we’re sad to see it go, it’s exciting to imagine what the cast might do next.
Mae Whitman (Amber Holt)
No one on the show has embraced the practice of improvisational crosstalk more passionately than Whitman. Though Amber’s off-the-dome chatter was usually colored by frustration or outright despair, Whitman can get a laugh, as we well know from Scott Pilgrim. I’d love to see her get in with a reigning comedy crew — Apatow’s, perhaps, or maybe the cast of Veep — and indulge in a bit of comic patter.
Max Burkholder (Max Braverman)
Nothing ratcheted up the tension of a Parenthood sequence like Max’s Asperger’s injecting itself into any and every situation. Burkholder handled the part with impenetrable focus and the requisite lack of emotion, yet you always felt there was a layer of charm and sensitivity just below the surface. I could easily see the lanky, mop-haired actor as the quirky, wise yet misunderstood, modern-day Duckie Dale in a teen romance.
Miles Heizer, Tyree Brown, Xolo Maridueña (Drew, Jabbar, Victor)
To be honest, the quality of performance fluctuated noticeably from episode to episode among these three boys. But to be sure, Zeke and Camille had some good-looking male grandchildren. Any one of them could go on to be a teen or tween heartthrob in the right milieu.
Dax Shepard (Crosby Braverman)
Shepard came into Parenthood with pre-established comic chops and leaves with highly respectable dramatic cred. Anyone who saw the underrated car-chase comedy Hit & Run — which Shepard wrote and directed — knows he’s ready for his own starring vehicle, both literally and figuratively.
Monica Potter (Kristina Braverman)/Erika Christensen (Julia Braverman-Graham)
I know that all blondes aren’t the same. I just can’t decide which one of these steely actresses deserves the most enviable forecast on my totally imaginary list: a guest-starring arc on The Good Wife. Come on, how fantastic would that be? A lighter haired but equally unflappable prosecuting attorney — maybe even another devoted mom — facing off against each other in the courtroom of some impatient Judge Curmudgeon.
Sam Jaeger (Joel Graham)
He didn’t come out atop the zeitgeist like McDreamy or Idris Elba, but Sam Jaeger is indisputably the handsome bastard of this telecast. Also, his character’s ideal sensitivity insures him a shot at playing loyal, loving beau to some starlet — Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher — sometime in the near future.
Ray Romano (Hank Rizzoli)
From Everybody Loves Raymond to Men of a Certain Age to Parenthood, the stammering Romano has grown increasingly scruffier and more disheveled. Now would be the perfect time for the world renown comedian to switch it up, maybe play a relatively clean-cut politician or bureaucrat. He can still hem and haw through every interaction — just with a suit and tie on.
Lauren Graham (Sarah Braverman)
At this point, Graham should probably retire. This is the actress whose escape velocity charm propelled her past the infamous “Fuck me, Santa” incident unscathed. If she is given the opportunity to be any more charming or lovable while in the public eye, venomous basilisks will probably emerge from the earth’s crust to balance out the planet’s good and evil ratio.
Peter Krause (Adam Braverman)
Call it stoicism or an ability to tell a man’s complete story despite the stick wedged somewhere very inappropriate, Krause has so often played stressed out and pent up with remarkable agility. For some reason, I’d like to see this skill set transported back in time, perhaps to a noir detective thriller where the stakes are not so much the fate of his family but of his soul: Nate Fisher in a fedora. Yes.
Craig T. Nelson (Zeke Braverman)
Remember that episode of The Good Wife I outlined earlier, with Monica Potter and Erika Christensen? I think we’ve found our prickly judge. After years as a film and television stalwart excelling in every genre, Nelson has earned the right to preside over — not just sit on — the best bench on TV.
Bonnie Bedelia (Camille Braverman)
I’m not suggesting the 66-year-old actress jump Liam Neeson-like into action films. But if anyone can save the Die Hard franchise, maybe it’s the original and only Holly Gennaro McClane. I’m saying, Bonnie, just show up at the beginning of the movie and give the rest of us a reason to give a shit.