Last night we said goodbye to one of the greatest TV families of all time (and, yes, I'm equipped to defend that declaration). My heart was anxious, heavy and discontented. In all honesty, 3/4's of the finale fell a tad bit flat for me. Not because the storyline was poor or the acting less than stellar, but because I just know in my heart that there is still so much life left in every character and story line. I'm not ready to say goodbye. I'm not ready to let go of the journey that they've allowed me to go on week after week. They're family to me, and you just don't say goodbye to family.
As I drifted off to dream last night, I tried to rationalize why my heart was so heavy. After all, it's just a TV show. The stories aren't real. The characters are not actual people. The beloved Braverman house with the big, outdoor dining table underneath the string lights isn't even a place that we can visit in the flesh. Why is a TV show's ending able to create a true, physiological response in my body? Long story short, it's because everything about the Bravermans was real.
What Parenthood did right, and darn near perfect, is that the story lines, the people, and even the homes and props, were real. Everything about that show screamed authenticity. Their love lives were messy, their kids had challenges, and when they all got together as one large family, they were loud and talked over each other to the point of being overwhelming and almost annoying at times. I don't know about you, but our families DO operate in the loud, overwhelming and even annoying manner that the show so perfectly captured. It wouldn't have been real without all of those details that make families teeter between splendid and dysfunctional on any given day.
The writers weren't afraid to tackle the real stuff, the hard stuff, and the taboo stuff. In six season we experienced love, loss, anger, cancer, drinking, drugs, sex, abortion, drunk driving, birth, and even death. It was the stuff that lives are made of and they made no apologies for that. The conversations between parents and children were real, raw and genuine. They were conversations that we've all had, in our own homes, and we could empathize. The sibling rivalries were believable with words spoken in both a love and an anger that only a brother or sister relationship can harness. The love behind their eyes made you forget that they were actors. We were invited in to celebrate their highest of highest and to cry with them during their darkest of lows. Show me an episode of Parenthood that doesn't threaten a tear to fall and I'll show you...nothing. Because that just doesn't exist.
And you know what the best part of their beautiful and messy lives were? The fact that they ALWAYS had each other. Always. They could be incredibly angry with one another, but when the chips were down, so came down the pettiness that can accumulate in a family if you're not mindful of it. They were the Bravermans and they were a team. And I, myself, loved the fact that their last scene took place on a baseball field. They were going to celebrate life with their teammates and they were going to have a dang good time doing it. And if you're an Parenthood addict like me, you may recall that the very first episode took place on a baseball field. Maybe even the same one. Fitting and perfectly tied together.
When you're family, there will be countless starts and stops. Hundreds of curveballs and home runs. Millions of things to celebrate and to rally around for one another. And no matter where life takes you, as long as you can get back to that mound, where it all started, and stand arm in arm with your teammates, you've already won the game.
Thank you, Bravermans, for giving us our weekly fix of laughter, tears and then more laughter. For tackling the hard stuff, the not so pretty stuff and the beautiful stuff. And for sharing your lives with us. For those of us who fell in love with each one of you, we're all hoping that somehow, some way, we're all just a little bit Braverman. Even long after the show has wrapped.