With Jason Ritter off romancing Alexis Bledel on Fox’s Us & Them and Matt Lauria thisclose to closing a deal to return to Parenthood, one of the last remaining questions surrounding the NBC drama’s Season 5 is: What’s the status of Ray Romano‘s polarizing (kinda) homewrecker Hank?
“We’re currently discussing it,” executive producer David Hudgins shared with TVLine at the recent ATX Television Festival. “I love Ray Romano and thought he was so good on the show last year…. He’s great in that part and he works hard. He doesn’t just show up and do his [scenes]; he actually researched the character.”
Team Mark some fans didn’t take too kindly to Hank at first, Hudgins explained that from a behind-the-scenes standpoint, Romano’s appeal was undeniable.
“It was so interesting because we wrote the character [of Hank], then Ray was cast and then we shot [his first] scene. But the first time we actually saw him on-screen — and I think it was with Lauren Graham — we said, ‘Oh my gosh. Wow. This is watchable… This is kind of great!’”
All that said, the EP promised that Sarah’s Flavor of the Season will not be the driving force of her storyline this time around.
“We definitely want to set Sarah on a path,” Hudgins noted. “Her story last year — and arguably the year before — was about a lot of things, I thought; I actually feel like Sarah Braverman’s story really has always been, ‘I’m a single mother trying to figure out my way with a husband that wasn’t really there and hasn’t really helped.’ But just naturally, because of the way the story’s developed, there was a triangle last year with Hank and Mark.”
Noting that while said love story was “good and interesting” and created necessary conflict, “There is a very conscious effort on our part to set Sarah on a path that will really let her shine — and in conjunction with that, she may still have some love interests.”
“The thing is,” he continued, “Lauren is so good at that stuff — she’s so great at acting those [love] stories — that it’s hard not to want to tell them. But your question is good because we really are thinking about ‘What is Sarah’s story now?’ And what’s interesting about her [in Season 5] is that her kids are gone. If her identity before was as a single mother, well, Amber’s been out of the nest and now Drew’s out of the nest. What would that mean for a woman like her? How is she going to find herself? What’s she going to do?
“Sarah is going to have a great arc this year,” Hudgins again assured, adding with a laugh, “and it isn’t going to be completely about her love life.”
Are you hoping to see Hank return? Does Sarah’s “new path” excite you?