Nine innings later, the Bravermans have left the field and walked out of our lives forever. (Or at least until we start re-watching Parenthood on Netflix.) And in honor of the final hour, which saw Sarah find happiness with Hank, Zeek’s death, and a number of surprising cameos, we spoke with series creator Jason Katims about some of the episode’s most noteworthy moments.
On that Scott Porter cameo: “We had this idea for all these flashforwards in the finale and one idea we had was Amber meeting somebody else,” Katims said. “It was a tough role to cast because I didn’t just want it to be like, ‘Oh we’re casting an actor who we really didn’t know for such an important moment.’ But on the other hand, it was literally just a moment on screen with no lines so we couldn’t really go out to just anybody to do it. It occurred to me the idea of going to somebody that I knew and had a relationship with. And then I thought of Scott and to me, it was a favor that I was asking him to do this because it was obviously not a tremendous amount of stuff he got to do. I reached out to him and he without hesitation said he would love to do it. I knew that he was also a Parenthood fan and so that was meaningful to me that he wasn’t just walking onto a show that he had no connection to himself. I knew that he really liked the show and that meant a lot and it was great. He came on, he did it. He was fantastic.”
On the Amber scene that was cut: “Actually, in the original version there was another montage piece that we just didn’t have time for in the cut but there’s another beat where the two of them first meet and you see they’re both with their kids at one of those indoor gyms. He’s a single dad and she’s a single mom and the two of them meet and it’s the very first moment of them seeing each other. And we didn’t have time for that unfortunately but I think it still sort of lands.”
On why Amber and Ryan didn’t work out: “We considered everything because the Ryan and Amber story is one of those stories that was kind of like Hank versus Mark Cyr where everybody was divided on it, including everybody in the writers room. So we had many conversations about where to go with that particular story but when the idea came up of Amber getting pregnant, I was interested in the idea of her doing it on her own. For whatever reason that appealed to me. It might’ve been because it lent itself to stories with the rest of our Braverman family and since I knew we were in our last season, I wanted to see, as much as possible, stories that brought our family together and interconnected them all. So that’s how I wound up there.”
On losing Zeek: “I never knew exactly what the ending was going to be. Over the course of the series I’ve wanted to tell the story of losing a family member but I never wanted to do it because I didn’t want to lose any of those great actors, honestly. Even the way we broke the story of Zeek dying kept him in the show until the last possible minute, because I thought the most powerful way to tell that story would be by watching this family deal with this over time, which is how it happens a lot. It’s not just suddenly somebody has a heart attack and immediately passes. I went through this with both of my parents. Sometimes things happen over time and so we wanted to tell the story in that way. So when we knew that this was the final season, I felt like this was our moment to deal with this very intense subject and when we did decide to do it, I felt like that was the story that was the glue of the season, and everybody else’s stories weaved in and out around that.”
On Joel and Julia’s fourth child: “What was in my head was that was a child that they conceived. I’ve heard [of this happening] where a couple is struggling to get pregnant, decide to adopt and then the minute their adoption goes through, the woman learns that she’s pregnant. To me, those flashforwards were about being able to be a fly on the wall a couple of years down the road at these people that we’ve come to feel so close to, at least I know I have, and the other thing that I liked about the symmetry of that is that they now have four children. This has been a show that’s been about a family of four children so I liked the symmetry there.
On the Seth scene they had to cut: “We had a brief scene of John Corbett who played Amber and Drew’s dad. [It was] him coming in and meeting the baby and also finding out that Sarah was getting married and wishing her luck. That was a scene that had to be cut for time, and that was one I regret having to cut because it was a moment that, if you were a fan of the show over the years, John Corbett has done such great work, so it was a shame to have to lose that.”