For a TV series that doesn't feature zombies, superheroes or a murder-of-the-week story, it's no easy task to make it to a 100th episode. But on Friday, November 7th, Parenthood celebrated its centennial episode with a cake cutting on Stage 43 at Universal Studios with the entire cast and crew in attendance.
Parenthood is the story of the Braverman family, so named by showrunner Jason Katims because he wanted the family to be brave through all the trials and tribulations he had in store for them, like Adam (Peter Krause) and Christina (Monica Potter) discovering their son Max (Max Burkholder) had Asperger's Syndrome, Sarah (Lauren Graham) moving home to get help as a single mom with two teenagers, Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) deciding to have lifesaving open-heart surgery, and Julia (Erika Christensen) and Joel (Sam Jaeger) fighting to save their marriage.
Katims shares how people always come up to him and say, "Thank you for making me cry." Although he never knows how to respond, he takes it as a compliment.
"People feel that the show feels real," he says. "It hits people emotionally in ways that seems to be rare."
In addition to celebrating its 100th episode, Parenthood is also wrapping up the series this season. With only 13 episodes in Season 6, Katims says that the short season lends an intensity to the conclusion of the story of this Oakland, California-based family, with Craig T. Nelson as its patriarch.
"I will miss being with the people," Nelson told Bio. "It's such a great cast and you don't often get that. I had one on Coach. We celebrated 200 episodes on this stage in '96. Now, we are doing 100 episodes on the same stage years later."
And Sam Jaeger adds, "It kind of feels like your senior year. Like, 'Oh, boy. This is the last home game.' But it still hasn't really hit me. It won't hit me until sometime next year when I don't get to come back and see all these wonderful people."
Following the cutting of the cake, which was shaped like a family tree, the Parenthood cast took time to reveal personal memories of their six-year run on NBC. Check out what they had to say:
What is a favorite storyline or memory from the set?
Lauren Graham: I loved working with Jason Ritter (Mark Cyr) and the storyline of dating a younger man and what those problems were. I always think that's unexplored territory, like: What are those issues?
Mae Whitman (Amber Holt): I feel the same way about working with Matt Lauria — the Amber/Ryan story — because that was Amber's first real relationship, which gave her a chance to grow. Then to have to say goodbye to somebody because, even if you love somebody, sometimes it is not the right choice.
Miles Heizer (Drew Holt): There are so many relatable storylines to people at home. People that you know, or people that you meet on the street, say that it helped them get through a situation that they were in. I've actually had people say they went and had their kid tested for Asperger's because of the show.
Erika Christensen: It is way back in Season 2, but the Thanksgiving episode, where the family was all at the big table and they played football as a family. It is not one of our heavier storylines, but to me, it holds the nostalgia of the Braverman family and their beauty as a family.
Sam Jaeger: I am most invested in Joel and Julia just because I do it. Erika and I love working together so to have to yell at each other for the last year and a half has been the least fun we have had. I think seeing how aggressive our fans have been about this storyline in particular means we are striking a chord.
Monica Potter: I would say the cancer storyline, but also, opening the school, too. Sometimes I look at it and say, "This is harder in a weird way because it is more to juggle because it is not such an internal battle."
What is going to be the takeaway for you from this experience?
Lauren Graham: I have said this before but I grew up most of my life an only child, and on this show, we do scenes with tons and tons of people and it's fun. It is sort of like, when in doubt, gather a group of whatever your family is — whether they are blood or people you chose. It is always therapeutic.
Mae Whitman: I learned a lot because we were given a lot of creative freedom and were really respected and trusted. I saw how a set can function when everybody is treated with love and respect as opposed to fear and control. It just operates so smoothly and it is so efficient, so everybody wants to contribute their best. I hope I can carry that on in the rest of my career.
Monica Potter: I will walk away with Christina and probably take her to every character I play from here on out. Everything that Christina has gone through has taught me something. This past year alone, I have learned to slow down, enjoy my surroundings and enjoy life. I don't want her to ever go away. I love her so much. She has her weirdness about her, but there are certain things about her that I really admire.
Does this season feel any different to you, knowing it is the last season?
Erika Christensen: You know what? A little bit, but it's been hard sinking in. As it gets closer and closer to the end, we will probably feel it more and more and it will feel more real.
Monica Potter: I am just looking at Peter longer and with more intensity. He made a joke today. We were in the bedroom and we got a phone call. He was, "Oh, no. This might be our last time in bed." I was, "You've had six years to try something." I noticed we are all taking longer to shoot things, so, I think, subconsciously we all want the show to go on.
If you could take anything from the set, what would you want to be your piece of memorabilia?
Erika Christensen: Joel and Julia's whole house. I think it's beautiful.
Sam Jaeger: I really want the little lights hanging outside the Braverman home in the patio behind Zeek and Camille's (Bonnie Bedelia) home. There's just a comfort to it. That is where they had all the family dinners and that embodied the spirit of the show.
Monica Potter: I have a can of crushed pineapple that somebody wrote an obscenity on, so when we are having a bad day, we hold up the can of pineapple and we laugh. I will get that and take it home, so I can send it to Peter, so we can send it back and forth throughout the year. I am also going to take the couch in the family room. I am. I bought back the house that I grew up in in Cleveland, Ohio, so I am redoing it right now. I have a vision for that house and part of the Parenthood set will be in there, so it can live on forever.
Savannah Paige Rae (Sydney Graham): I would take home the wardrobe that Sydney gets to wear. It is all wonderful, and it all fits me perfectly because they have the seamstress. It is perfect.
Xolo Maridueña (Victor Graham): I would like to take home the caterers because then they could just cook food and we could hang out.
'Parenthood' airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. on NBC. The series finale will air in January, but as of this writing no specific date has been released.