Why the end of Parenthood is the end of an era
While watching the final episode of Parenthood last Thursday, I realized I wasn't just watching the end of a series. I was witnessing the end of a television era.
Of course, I'm sad to say goodbye to the wonderful family that were the Bravermans. I'll miss laughing, crying and learning valuable truths that made me look inside my own life week after week. But more than that, I believe we're all saying farewell to a kind of television entertainment that has become as outdated and passé as the Motorola flip phone.
That is, the end of the family television show that more accurately reflects the real-life struggles many people have.
Has The Television Family Drama Become Obsolete?
I'm not saying Parenthood represented the lives of most Americans. Far from it. After all, it was still Hollywood entertainment, and the financial and day-to-day struggles that many Americans deal with is not the kind of stuff Hollywood likes to remind us of. Besides, isn't entertainment supposed to help us "escape" our daily lives and forget our troubles if only for an hour on a Thursday evening?
Incredible writing and an amazing ensemble cast is what made Parenthood so special. There were no car chases, murders, buildings being blown up or reality TV style over-the-top drama. Instead, the show dealt with issues like cancer, financial struggles, single parenthood, teenage angst and living with a child with autism. You know, the kind of things that many people struggle with at some point in their lives.
But there was a refreshing truth to the writing on this show. Moments between parents and kids, spouses and siblings that many people could identify with. There was an honesty to it that you don't find very often on television. It was reminiscent of the kind of shows many of us grew up with in the eighties and nineties like Thirtysomething, Party of Five and The Wonder Years.
Sometimes Television Should Reflect Who We Are
Some think the "undoing" of Parenthood was its softer nature. That's probably true. But why is it we have become a society that can only be entertained by watching gratuitous violence, explicit sex (Parenthood definitely covered sex, though it was far from explicit), terrorist plots and reality TV?
True, reality TV is much cheaper to make than a drama with a dozen well paid actors and outstanding writing. But I'll never understand why it has become the entertainment of choice for so many. For me, watching the bad behavior of "reality stars" is like watching the scene of a car accident. I just want to look away. (But I suppose I must be in the minority.)
And if I see one more series based on terrorist plots and armageddon I may need to switch to PBS permanently. Perhaps it's because the evening news deals enough in both of these topics that I have overdosed on it as entertainment.
When characters in a television drama ring true, it can become much more than entertainment. It can make us ask ourselves the very questions that make us human. And that can translate into more empathy and understanding in our own lives.
I think that's a good thing. Aren't there enough things on television already that do the opposite?