‘Parenthood’ Showrunner Teases Series Finale: ‘It’s Surreal’

Jason Katims reveals what fans of the NBC series can expect on Thursday’s last episode

The Braverman family will be saying its final goodbye as “Parenthood’s” series finale airs, and Thursday’s big sendoff promises to answer some of the questions from the show’s last season.

Will Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) survive his heart condition? Will Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Adam (Peter Krause) get to keep the Luncheonette? Will Joel (Sam Jaeger) and Julia (Erika Christensen) have a happy ending? Will Amber (Mae Whitman) tell Ryan she had his baby?

Most importantly, will the Bravermans have a family reunion anytime soon?

“It’s surreal,” showrunner Jason Katims, told TheWrap. “Any time you end a show it’s tense. We’re not only telling the story about a family. We’ve become our own little weird quirky family ourselves.”

TheWrap caught up with Katims for a sneak peek of “Parenthood’s” big finale.

Craig T Nelson

1. Zeek’s major heart crisis.
Perhaps the biggest question on viewers’ minds: Will the family patriarch live or die? Doctors want Zeek to undergo major heart surgery but the risk is high. His physicians have warned he may not survive the operation. But refusing to go under the knife could mean a death sentence.

“I think Zeek is at a moment in his life where he’s considering all those things,” Katims said. “He’s thinking about his own mortality. He’s starting to take stock of his life. I think the great thing about this character is that he continues to make it not about himself but about wanting to be there for his family.”

Katims stopped shy of revealing whether Zeek will in fact agree to undergo surgery.

“It’s a tough story to tell but we felt it was an important story to tell. But I can tell you that in the finale we continue to tell the story we’ve told all season.”

Which brings us to the next big question.


2. What will happen to The Luncheonette?
Adam and Crosby are at a crossroads when it comes to their business. After burglars ransack the recording studio, the brothers have to decide whether to reopen their business or take the insurance money and go their separate ways. Adam, the responsible Braverman, wants out. Crosby, the family dreamer, is all about reinvesting the money back into the fledgling business.

“I really love that storyline,” said Katims. “It’s been such a great symbol of the show. They’ve been facing a lot of challenges. Crosby and Adam are at the opposite side about whether they should make The Luncheonette work or not. In the final episode will see that issue come to a resolution.”


3. Will Amber tell Ryan about the baby?
Amber, who just gave birth to baby Zeek Jr., still hasn’t told Ryan he’s a dad. Being a single mom has clearly been an overwhelming experience. When a present from her estranged dad, containing a crib, arrives at her doorstep, Amber is at a loss. She has no idea how to assemble to crib, an experience that sends her into a panic attack.

“In the finale, she’s dealing with a lot more than whether Ryan is going to be in her life,” said Katims. “Right now she’s very much on her own and dealing with having a newborn baby and lots of sleepless nights. Her apartment is not a perfect place to live, and she’s losing her job. In the final episode she’ll be leaning on her mom (Lauren Graham) and her family to help her.”

Parenthood - Season 4

4. Will Joel and Julia resolve their marital issues?
It’s been a rocky year for Julia and Joel. After separating, the two are slowly but surely getting back together. But Julia is still unsure about Joel’s commitment.

“There’s definitely a resolution for the fans,” said Katims. “There’s an unexpected twist that happens in the finale with that story that will either propel them closer or further apart. In the last few episodes, we’ve watched them get closer and closer and now there’s a twist in the form of an unexpected question that will test how solid the two of them are as a couple.”


5. What’s next for Max?
Max’s journey was a first for network television. The show has been credited with shedding a much-needed light on life on the autism spectrum.

After being constantly bullied at school, Max’s parents decide to open up their own school for kids with special needs. But Max has been slow to get on board with the idea.

“We do answer the question of wether the school will work for him, “ revealed Katims. “We’ll also see a great coming-of-age moment for Max, which will leave us with a very uplifting and positive sense of where he’s headed.”

Katims said it was Max’s storyline that had a lot of people tuning in.

“I’m very proud of that story and how we told it. We chose to delve into this material. Not only did we address it, we continued telling the story in every episode. I thought that it would be something that might be a barrier for some people, that it might be too alienating or depressing. But, the opposite happened. I actually think it’s what made people lean in to the show when it first came on,” he said.


6. Will there ever be a Braverman family reunion?
If it’s up to the show’s creator, the answer is yes.

“I hold out some kind of crazy hope that one day we’ll be able to get everybody back together and revisit the show at some point down the road,” Katims said. “Whether that happens or not, I think most of us would want it to happen. I think that speaks to how much the show has meant to us all.”

The show’s premiere in March of 2010 drew a respectable 8 million viewers, but the series has since seen its audience shrink over the years.

“Parenthood’s” final episode airs Thursday at 10 p.m. on NBC.