Family Matters

Tuesday nights on NBC bring back a little blast from the past with an outstanding cast.

Parenthood, an adaptation of the 1989 original movie under the same name, has been turned into an unexpected, compelling, and serious series. This new family dramedy pokes fun at relationships without slandering them, while still maintaining a good-natured humor. It can be considered a coming-of-age drama for all ages.

The cast is comprised of a comedic bunch, who are no strangers to primetime television and step out of their comfort zones to suit the Braverman family and its problems. Peter Krause (Six Feet Under) plays Adam Braverman, a well connected businessman, Little League coach, and reliable brother to three other adult children who are competitive, but unfailingly remain close.

Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) plays Sarah, a divorced single mother of two gloomy teenagers who are short on money and upset about leaving their hometown to move back to her parents’ home in Berkeley, Calif.

As soon as Sarah returns, problems arise between her and her career-driven sister, Julia (played by Erika Christensen), a driven lawyer who struggles to find time to spend with her young daughter, who prefers the company and attention of her stay-at-home dad, Joel (played by Sam Jaeger).

All the Braverman siblings rely on Adam for advice and support, but none more than Crosby, a lazy charmer and womanizer played by Dax Shepard (Baby Mama), who feebly agrees to his girlfriend’s marriage deadline.

It is as if all the comedians’ personalities are toned down so as not take away from their characters’ more serious problems, which include rebellious teenagers, career setbacks, caring for a child one never knew existed, and (in Adam’s case) a son who may possibly be suffering from Asperger’s syndrome.

In spite of the problems, the show sells the audience on the idea of an almost utopian all-America fantasy: a huge family living in the same city whose members are there for each other through the frequent thick and seldom thin.

However, the Bravermans are a lot more interesting than the sum of their plights and offer characteristics that viewers can relate to.