I was shocked when I heard Ron Howard and Brian Grazer were making a new TV series out of their old film Parenthood (it returns for a second season tonight on NBC). And I was seriously doubtful about its prospects.
I mean what other so-so movies of 1989 were we going to see return? Look Who's Talking? (Actually Dianne Wiest was great in the original movie, as was a young Joaquin Phoenix, who was then known as Leaf Phoenix and was not yet insane.)
Plus it had already been a failed TV series once, right after the movie. But after constant cajoling from my mother -- who raised five kids with my father -- and my sister -- who's raising one now mostly by herself -- (both could be characters on the show) I finally gave in and watched it last spring.
And it was awesome. Best new show on network TV since Friday Night Lights. There are five very clear reasons I think the show is so successful.
- People talk like, well, people: It has wonderful, natural overlapping dialogue that sounds like it came out of an Altman movie.
- It shows families of all kinds: The show tells the story of the Braverman clan, but within that extended family are all your parenting scenarios. Single parents, nuclear families, and those in between.
- They feature a realistic, deeply honest telling of what it's like to raise kids of all ages: Usually in Hollywood, "realistic" just means super-gritty and dramatic: pregnancy, drugs, angst. And Parenthood has that. But it still appreciates the joys that bubble up amid all that. These people actually enjoy one another's company.
- Lauren Graham: I was never much of a Gilmore Girls guy, and my mixed feelings about Graham were one of the reasons. But here she's nearly as good as Wiest was in the original.
- Peter Krause: Dude's got the best track record on TV: Six Feet Under, Sports Night, Dirty Sexy Money. Everything he touches turns to gold. Then promptly gets canceled.
And that's the problem, of course. Cancellation hovers like a dark cloud over every half-decent show, and it keeps me from wanting to commit. Don't want to repeat a heartbreak scenario like what happened to me with My So-Called Life.
Thankfully it's on NBC, which isn't exactly drowning in popular shows to replace it. But I urge everybody to give the show a chance this season if you didn't last season. Help keep good stories of real parents on TV.
Will you be watching Parenthood?
Image via NBC.com