“Parenthood” and TV’s Emotion Revolution

January 30, 2015 4:48 PM

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The hour-long NBC drama “Parenthood,” which ended last night after six seasons, was famous for its ability to make us cry—with joy, with sadness, with relief. So much so that last night, when Adam Braverman (Peter Krause) taught some kids at his son’s charter school how to chop onions without crying—Wear onion goggles!—it felt like an in-joke from the showrunner, Jason Katims. Last night, I knew that I was done for when I was moved to watch—not forward through—the opening credits, which were scored to “Forever Young,” by Bob Dylan, a song I find grating. Suddenly it hit me that the series was ending, and I didn’t want it to.

“Parenthood,” an unlikely contemporary update of the 1989 Steve Martin movie, was about the Bravermans, a big Berkeley family: two baby-boomer parents, their four grown kids, and their zillions of grandchildren—almost everybody vaguely liberal and artistic. The movie was a comedy that delighted in g...

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