Parenthood Boss on Sarah's Choice, Julia's "Wrenching" Battle and Hope for Amber and Ryan
Parenthood | Photo Credits: Florian Schneider/NBC
With the success of reality series such as Teen Mom and High School Moms, TV is no stranger to teen pregnancy. However, it's still widely the exception rather than the rule that a scripted character — on a network show no less — will have an abortion. But after riding a wave of critical and commercial success thanks to its honest-to-life depictions of breast cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder, among others, Parenthood tackled the issue head-on in last week's episode. One minute, Drew (Miles Heizer) was worrying about college acceptance letters and the next, he was watching his girlfriend walk through the door at Planned Parenthood to take care of the unwelcome surprise. "We attempted to tell the story in a way that was balanced and would be fair to people watching the show who might have different points of view," showrunner Jason Katims tells TVGuide.com. "We've really been able to tackle difficult subjects in a way that is very honest and that's what we really were trying to do."
With just two episodes left in Parenthood's fourth season (Tuesday at 10/9c on NBC), Katims discussed the decision behind the shocking plot point, Sarah's (Lauren Graham) big decision between Mark (Jason Ritter) and Hank (Ray Romano), why there's hope for Amber (Mae Whitman) and Ryan (Matt Lauria) and previews one of his favorite scenes from the NBC drama's three-year run.
What went into the decision to depict an abortion on the show?
Jason Katims: Teen pregnancy is an issue that is out there, and anything that seems within the realm of things that people are dealing with, we try to lean in to. It really wasn't very different from the decision to explore any story, other than we understood that there might be a sensitivity to the subject matter.
Were there ever second thoughts about having Amy go through with it or hesitation from the network?
Katims: The network was very, very supportive of us telling this story that we wanted to tell as long as we were going to do it in a way that was responsible. I think that it was definitely something that was discussed and talked about, but there was never a sense from them that they felt like we couldn't do this story. We did do a story line on Friday Night Lights that dealt with abortion, so it was a not like we had not explored that before, though I understand it is somewhat rare to do.
Like any story, we went into it and thought what would happen if this situation came up with Drew and Amy? We tried to follow what we thought their reaction would be. It's hard for anybody to look at Miles' performance in that episode, I think, and think anything other than what a great performance that was. I was very proud of him and I thought he did an amazing job, as did everybody involved in the story line. I thought he really, really shined it.
How will Drew recover from the abortion and his split from Amy?
Katims: There's a very sort of bittersweet moment in the final episode between he and Amy. I think at the end of the episode on Tuesday he felt a little bit shut out of her life so we do come back to that in the final episode in a way that deals with a little bit of the aftermath.