Parenthood showrunner Jason Katims, along with 12 of the beloved NBC family drama’s cast members, graced the stage at PaleyFest 2013 Thursday night to discuss high hopes for a fifth season, who’ll be back if the series is fortunate enough to return, Sarah’s controversial romantic twist and much more.
Wasting no time getting to the juiciest question of all, TVLine’s own Michael Ausiello — who moderated the event — grilled Katims on the likelihood of a renewal. The EP, of course, didn’t have a definitive answer, but instead turned it over to Max Burkholder, who enthused: “You can never be sure, but I am definitely crossing my fingers!”
Though Season 5 is not a certainty (yet), Katims did reveal a few things he has up his sleeve should the situation present itself: the first being the return of Matt Lauria‘s fan fave Ryan.
“Let’s say there’s a Season 5: I absolutely loved the dynamic between [Amber and Ryan] and I would love to continue that storyline,” he shared. However, “Matt may or may not be available next year, so we’ll have to see what happens.” (Mae Whitman, for her part, boasted playfully, “Oh, he’s available! He’s one of my closest friends and I really hope he comes back because I love working with him.”)
As for where any Season 5 would pick up, Katims said, “Hypothetically, there will be a time jump, like in real-time or somewhat close to that.”
Other topics touched on during the PaleyFest Q&A:
SARAH’S CHOICE | When questioned about Sarah picking Ray Romano‘s Hank over Jason Ritter‘s Mark in the finale, Lauren Graham had a surprising response. “I saw it differently,” she explained. “I felt that the finale left it open. Sarah made a choice and then Hank’s like, ‘I’m moving to Minnesota,’ so to me there was a lot of energy in both areas. I did not view it as [she] chose one or the other necessarily.” That said, “It was hard” to see Mark get his heart broken because “Jason’s been with us from the beginning” — sentiments the character’s alter ego echoed. “I remember standing in the [class]room and listening to Lauren say those things, and it was like, after all this time it all ends right here?!” Ritter laughed. “It is heartbreaking because you do become invested. This is a real family that’s been created.” Speaking of TV family…
THE GILMORE CONNECTION | “They always trade you in for someone younger, don’t they?” Graham teased when asked about her Gilmore daughter Alexis Bledel playing Ritter’s love interest in a Fox comedy pilot. More seriously, the actress admitted that it truly freaked her out when she learned of the casting “because I have such specific relationship with these people and these characters — it didn’t occur to me that they’d ever meet each other!” However, “three seconds” after processing the news, she realized: “It’s going to be amazing. The two of them will be perfect together… And [as such] I can guarantee you Mark and Sarah will not be back together.” (To even the score, she’s hoping that “Alexis’ old love interests from Gilmore Girls will be Sarah’s new love interest.” Paging Matt Czuchry….)
THE GRADUATE | Don’t expect the college-going Drew to disappear next year in the same way that Haddie mostly did. “Drew is going to Berkeley,” Katims noted, “So, he’s in town.”
BABY LOVE? | Not exactly. Dax Shepard and Joy Bryant revealed that when they both read that Crosby and Jasmine were having a baby, they thought: “Nope. Not gonna happen.” Their big hope: “Our baby’s going to sleep a lot.”
ABORTION ISSUE | “This one was a particularly difficult one,” Katims said of the choice to have Drew’s girlfriend Amy terminate her pregnancy. “It’s a tricky subject matter, but I felt in my gut that it was a story I wanted to tell. We set out in a way to make sure we were accurate, but to also be very sensitive. I didn’t want to politicize it… We wanted to get underneath the story and tell them in a way that we feel is as real as possible.” The showrunner went on to reveal that he “was blown away by Miles [Heizer's] performance in particular.”
TEXAS FOREVER | Will we ever see more Friday Night Lights vets come through Parenthood? Katims hopes so. “I have loved bringing these actors on,” he shared. “The process would start with a character that we come up with, and then [one of the writers] suggesting” an FNL alum.
A TIME FOR PRIDE | Fielding a fan Q about when/if a gay character would be introduced, Katims said candidly, “It is something I would love to find a way to do. The “tricky part,” he explained, is that a majority of the characters are established already, so an organic genesis for that storyline needs to exist. Fun fact: Whitman admitted to trying to get the show to make Amber gay a few seasons back, but it never stuck.
CHATTY CAST-Y | Love it or hate it, the cast of Parenthood is notorious for talking over each other in scenes — but why? Detailed Katims: “I’d just done Friday Night Lights and I wanted to bring some of that style to Parenthood…. We shoot with three cameras, both sides of the scene at once, which allows the actors to react to each other and exist in the moment — and what happens in those real moments would never have otherwise been discovered. So many of the greatest moments of the show have come from that process… The actors are now so in-tune and know how to do it that I think it elevates the scene and makes it seems much more lifelike.”