Emmy Watch: 'Parenthood' creator Jason Katims on adding a new Braverman, writing for an ensemble

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Image Credit: Art Streiber

Between now and June 28, the deadline for Emmy voters to return nomination ballots, EW.com is running a series called Emmy Watch, featuring highlight clips and interviews with actors, producers, and writers whom EW TV critic Ken Tucker has on his wish list for the nominations announcement on July 19.

While working on Friday Night Lights, Jason Katims learned that critical love, fan buzz, and hopeful thinking don’t always equal a nomination. And sometimes it just takes a while.

After five years of flirting with Emmy, Friday Night Lights secured its first and only nomination for Best Drama Series last year. They didn’t win. (Though Kyle Chandler walked away with an award in the Lead Actor category, and Katims won Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.) But for Katims, the recognition was a win. And as Parenthood heads into its fourth season, the executive producer is hoping for the same — if not more.

“On Friday Night Lights, we weren’t recognized until later in the series run….,” Katims says. “I’m hoping a similar thing happens to Parenthood. Obviously, it would be a really great thing for everybody.”

And with episodes like “Nora” in their arsenal, their chances are strong. The episode, which marked the birth of the newest Braverman, was one of the episodes the show submitted for consideration. It was also the episode EW dissected with Katims when we spoke as part of Emmy Watch. Check out a clip and read more below.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s talk “Nora.”
KATIMS: It was fairly early in the season, but it was a very emotional storyline, with the baby being born and Adam not being there and Crosby helping her deliver the baby. At the same time they got through a lot of the tension that had built up from the season before, when Crosby had slept with Max’s behavioral aid.

It was also nice seeing some different pairings in scenes.
There was the other really nice storyline with Amber and Max. I loved seeing those two characters together, where she helped him and at school he was being punished because he had gotten into a fight with his cousin. It was a really touching story where she helped figure out how to have Max apologize to Jabar for what he did. In doing so, Amber herself started to understand what some of the difficulties were with Max’s learning differences. There was also that really funny story where Adam was trying to dress in different clothes to look like somebody who he wasn’t. And it just gave this story — not only did it have this emotional impact, but it was also humorous. There was a lot going on.

And we haven’t even gotten to John Corbett’s reappearance!
That was the beginning of that arc when Seth (Corbett) returns. He shows up drunk, and it calls for Jason Ritter’s character to say, ‘Who is this guy?’ But ultimately, at the end of the episode, we find Seth in dire straits. He was like literally passed out in front of his motel and it launched that storyline with Seth, which I really loved. It was about how even though there was that hard and difficult stuff in their past, [Sarah] still did care about him and felt like she needed to help him at a time when he was ready to get help. That arc was something I loved. The connection between all those actors was great.

I find it interesting that you picked an episode that seemingly was floating in the middle of the season — it wasn’t a finale or premiere or midseason finale.
I love some of those moments because it’s a serialized show and that’s what we build to. But we also have all these jewels along the way; I feel like “Nora” was one of them. I thought the road trip episode was another really unique one for us, and I really loved it. And the truth is, I feel like we have many, many strong episodes, but I looked for one where we had as many characters as possible involved in storylines where they get to do good work. I feel like the true strength of the show is the ensemble. We have this incredible ensemble of actors, and that has allowed us as storytellers and writers to dig deep with a lot of those characters and really give them material where they get to evolve. They aren’t playing the same beat over and over again. They’re really changing and evolving over time.

This season, do you think ending earlier than most shows hurt your chances for nominations? Because the episodes aren’t as fresh in the memory?

It does get a little tricky. The one thing I do appreciate about how the season ran for us was that we — rather than try to spread our 18 episodes out through May — it was a more compact schedule. These cable shows will do 13 or 14 episodes and run it straight through, and you kind of get used to that. Preemptions really hurt shows. And if you’re off the schedule for a long time, after you come back — particularly with the show like Parenthood where it’s a really serialized show — I think those delays really make it difficult to keep the momentum going and keep the audience’s attention on the show. To me, even though we ended early, to have a schedule where we had as many episodes as possible in a row, that was the positive side of that.

Related:
Emmy Watch: ‘Parks and Recreation’ EP Michael Schur on ‘The Debate,’ why Amy Poehler is due
Emmy Watch: ‘Justified’ EP Graham Yost talks ‘Slaughterhouse’ and not repeating yourself


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