Parenthood Finale: Why the Show Ended That Way, and Scoop on the 7 Biggest Surprises

Read this and prepare to cry again!

By Kristin Dos Santos Jan 30, 2015 4:00 AMTags
Parenthood, Season FinaleNBC

If you're having trouble seeing straight after the last five minutes of that Parenthood finale, you are not alone. It's not easy to type either, sister. So. Many. Tears!!


Julia and Joel and the four kids and the dang PUPPY?

Jason Freaking Street ending up with Amber?

Max's huge smile at graduation?

So well done. Here, creator Jason Katims breaks down for you fans why he chose Friday Night Lights star Scott Porter for Amber (what about Riggins?!), why Zeek's death happened how and when it did, the "poetry" of Julia and Joel and more…

WHO THAT FOURTH KID WAS WITH JULIA AND JOEL: Theirs. Biologically. "It was a surprise pregnancy for Julia," says Katims. "And that sort of comes from a couple things. I've heard so many times stories about people who have been trying to adopt and it's a long process. And then when their adoption goes through, they find out that they are pregnant. When it rains, it pours. It was partly that. And the other thing that I loved about that is that now Julia and Joel have a family of four children. And the Bravermans, she grew up in a family of four children and we've been observing them for all this time and so I thought that was really a cool, poetic connection." 


WHY SCOTT PORTER ENDED UP WITH AMBER: "Amber was such an important character and so endearing to the audience, it's about where she's heading, where she's winding up. And it felt weird to me to cast an actor that I didn't know. You want to know who she ends up with. It's just one moment on screen, and  I really liked the idea of having someone who I had a connection to. I knew Scott Porter was also a fan of Parenthood and obviously because of our connection via Friday Night Lights, that was a huge factor. I felt comfortable calling up a star like him to ask him to do this role that had no lines and just walk in at the end of the series and do it. It was incredible. The moment he heard from us, he instantly said yes. No questions." 

WHY HE WENT FOR JASON STREET WHEN MAE WHITMAN (AMBER) IS SUCH A RIGGINS FAN IN REAL LIFE: [Laughs] "Well, we definitely ran down the list of people. I just felt like for some reason Scott felt like the perfect person."

WHY THE SHOW ENDED WITH A BASEBALL GAME AND FLASHFORWARDS:  "Since there was such a sadness about Zeek dying at the end, I really wanted to counteract that with all these little surprises about how life goes on and these families are continue to grow in these amazing and surprising ways."


WHY HE DECIDED TO HAVE ZEEK DIE, AND WHY HE WAITED UNTIL THE SHOW'S FINAL MOMENTS:  "One of the reasons was, I wanted to have Craig T. Nelson in as many scenes as possible. I thought he was doing such incredible work. And also I've been through the experience, as many of us have, of losing a parent and it wasn't something that happened overnight. It was something that went on for a long period of time and you go through a lot. I wanted to tell that story.  We told two big episodes  that were big emergency episodes of him being rushed to the hospital. I didn't want that to be the kind of feeling we are left with at the end of the show. I knew it would be really sad that Zeek passed away. But I didn't want it to be the only thing we took away from the show. I think the show is ultimately, has always been ultimately uplifting, even though we have dealt with very, very difficult material. To me what the show has really always been about is no matter what happens, this family coming together, and continuing to  flourish and thrive, despite everything. And that's why I wanted to get to that ending of them on the baseball field and with those flash forwards to the future.


WHETHER HE WOULD EVER CONSIDER A PARENTHOOD REUNION:  "I totally would do a reunion. Look, I've been down this road with Friday Night Lights. We did make an effort to find a way to keep that going, and ultimately, it just wasn't going to work. But with Parenthood, I think  there is something really intriguing with it. Because I want to know where this family is in three years or five years. I want to see what Max is like in his first job. I want to see where these people are down the road. But a milion things have to come together in terms of getting all of  these people available at the same time. And what's the right context of it all. I love the idea of doing a reunion movie like Boyhood, where every year, everybody commits a week to doing this project. Maybe it's not that crazy to think that we could pull something like that off.  When the time comes, I'll start picking up the phone and calling these people."

WHERE THAT BASEBALL DIAMOND IS SO WE CAN GO PAY OUR RESPECTS: "We were supposed to go shoot that final scene in San Francisco and then two days before we were going up there, we learned there was the biggest storm coming. We decided the day before to that location, and we committed to it by photos. It actually is ironically a block from Universal Studios where we have been shooting all these years."

It's called South Weddington Park in Studio City, a mile from  my house and if you need me I'll be playing with my kids there this weekend, trying not to cry and remembering the importance of family—birth-given or chosen.

Clearly, Zeek's death is a controversial way to end the series—Craig T. Nelson himself told me "I don't like it." But overall, I personally thought it was phenomenal finale. Weigh in with your own thoughts below, and check back tomorrow for how Parenthood ranks among the best and worst series finales of all time. 



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