A few friends of mine in college left the movie theater after watching “Parenthood” in 1989 knowing the film had made a permanent, gut-wrenching impression on our lives. The film gave us glimpses of what our futures could look like as they unfolded. It filled our veins with an even greater appreciation for the joys and tragedies that would come with adult life, inspired us to be better people, and made us cling ever tighter to the bonds of friendship and family.
As we made our way back to the University of Georgia campus that night, we made vows to each other that we would go on to make a difference in the world and become the best human beings we could make of ourselves. And God forbid, if we ever broke our previous vows to never get married or have kids, we promised each other we would do right by our spouses and our children — just like producer Ron Howard had taught us.
I didn’t think I’d ever experience anything on a screen like that again. Howard proved me wrong when he decided to take the genius of his film and turn it into a TV show by the same name. “Parenthood“, airing Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. Eastern, is without question the best new show to hit the air the past year. The show is masterful at every level. If you haven’t watched it yet, go on line, watch some back episodes, get caught up, and make an appointment to watch the remaining episodes. If you insist on not being home, set your DVR to record all new episodes. Here’s why you should start this process the moment you finish reading this post (preferably after you leave a comment):
- The plots of each episode of Parenthood will take you on an emotional journey. You’ll smile, laugh, shed a tear of happiness, get distraught, feel pangs of depression, then laugh, clap and cry all at the same time. You’ll deal with the strains of adult children watching their parents age and make big mistakes, parents learning their children have Asperger’s syndrome, and mothers fighting to prevent their daughters from growing up like them. You’ll see all-around good-guy dads lend a hand to their siblings’ fatherless sons, and immature young men learn that they’re fathers and that it’s time to grow up. You’ll see married couples tempted by the passions of forbidden flesh.
- The show will entertain you but also help you discover new insights on your life and the challenges you face. It’s a rare day when a show can enlighten and entertain. (If you watch an episode or two and don’t come away enriched, you might need to be “In Treatment” on HBO.)
- The acting is stupendous. NBC somehow managed to assemble a
cast of the some of the best TV actors in America — some like Craig T. Nelson are long-time household names. The rest of the cast is comprised mostly by younger talent from their teens to their forties that each pack a wallop in every scene they perform. The cast includes people like Peter Krause (“Six Feet Under”), Monica Potter (“Boston Legal”), Sarah Ramos (“American Dreams”), Dax Shepard (“Baby Mama”), Joy Bryant (“Antwone Fisher”) and Lauren Graham (“Gilmore Girls”).
A number of critics have noted that the film “Parenthood” is a classic that gets better as you age. I’ve seen the movie in my 20s, 30s and 40s and have absolutely found that to be true. The more life experience I accumulate, the better I can relate to more characters. I’m certain the same will prove true for “Parenthood” the TV show. I just hope NBC, a network notorious for not supporting great programs, makes the commitment to let the show and me grow old together.