'Parenthood' Boss Jason Katims on Hope for Season 5, Foreshadowing for Amber and Ryan
The showrunner behind the NBC family drama talks with THR about bringing Matt Lauria, Jason Ritter and Ray Romano back for next year and how Kristina's journey will impact the character going forward.
Parenthood wrapped its fourth season Tuesday with an hour that could easily have doubled for a series finale as the NBC family drama awaits word on its future. While Sarah (Lauren Graham) made her decision between Hank (Ray Romano) and Mark (Jason Ritter), it didn't end up quite the way she'd planned. Meanwhile, Kristina (Monica Potter) received amazing news in her battle against breast cancer, while the entire Braverman family gathered to witness as Victor's adoption was formalized. One of the sweetest moments of the hour, however, came when Ryan (Matt Lauria) and Amber (Mae Whitman) professed their love for one another.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with showrunner Jason Katims to discuss the events of the finale, the latest on whether the expensive family drama could return and more.
THR: Last night's season finale felt like it could serve as a series ender. Did you approach it that way?
Jason Katims: I didn't approach it as a series finale. The show is so serialized it tends to have these stories that build over a period of episodes and when it comes to a season finale, there's a lot of sense of resolution because a lot of these stories are reaching a conclusion. I also feel like it's a big cast with a lot of storylines and when it gets to the last episode, you want to try and touch on as many of these characters and stories as you can. People said that about last season's finale and I didn't really intend for either last year or this year to serve as a series finale. I certainly don't want it to be a series finale.
THR: NBC is very high on bringing the series back for a fifth season but you have to cut costs. Are you considering trimming the cast or doing a more abbreviated season?
Katims: I haven't considered any of those kinds of changes yet. We're still really waiting to hear whether we have a fifth season and I don't think that decision will be coming anytime soon because now the networks are very involved with their pilot orders and that's where their focus is at the moment. I don't expect any information on that for a while. I've not had any conversations about any changes to the show.
THR: Would you be satisfied if it were the series finale?
Katims: I wouldn't be satisfied because I feel like the show has been in such a strong place creatively. I would love to keep doing the show. I do feel that this was my favorite season. It felt like we found another gear in a way. I was really happy with the season and would hate to say goodbye to the show. One thing that would be great is if the show were going to end, if we knew ahead of time that we were leading to an ending so we could write toward that. That doesn't always happen and I don't know if it'd happen on Parenthood.
THR: Do you have a final scene in mind for the series?
Katims: I don't have a final scene in mind because right now I'm not thinking about the show coming to an ending. There's no reason why it couldn't continue for more than one more season. That's the mind-frame I'm in right now. I don't have a sense of where I would want to end it.
THR: Have you started plotting out season five?
Katims: You can't help but start to have ideas with next season as you're getting toward the end of the season. You naturally start to think about where everybody is going to start out next year. We've been lucky to have been able to tell as many stories as we have so far. Doing the show is a labor of love for really everybody involved. I really doubt it will get to the point where I feel creatively we're out of stories to tell. I feel optimistic that we'll do more episodes. But beyond that, we have to wait and hear.
THR: Have you already pitched an arc for season five? Where would it pick up?
Katims: What we've done historically has been to do a time-jump so that we're picking up some months later after the finale of the season. So it might be Drew starting college. I'm at the beginning stages of figuring that out.
THR: Sarah picking Hank over Mark left the door open to see her move to Minnesota. Should NBC renew it, could we see Lauren Graham depart? Will Ritter or Romano return?
Katims: That really wasn't the intention of how that storyline ended. It was more about Sarah being in a place of having to rethink her life and move on and put her in a place in her life where she has to start over a little bit. I love both actors so much -- we haven't let Jason get away from us yet! -- and would love to continue to work with them. It's too early to know about next year.
THR: Kristina's cancer-free. Was there ever a doubt in your mind about how her storyline would end?
Katims: It really is true when the doctor said, "It's five years before you use the word 'cured.'" While this storyline has ended in terms of her bout with breast cancer, I'm interested in continuing to have what happened this season inform what these characters' -- Kristina, Adam and the kids -- journey is and how what happened this year affects them next year. That is something that does happen and the change of perspective it gives you in life is a profound one. I personally feel it's important for us to explore that. There's always a few basic stories you use as your tentpoles as you're breaking the episodes and one of them was this was the season that Kristina would go through breast cancer and all the curve-balls that would be thrown at her. The image of them going to Hawaii at the end of the whole thing was something the writers were committed to throughout. We never said, "What if she doesn't get a good scan?"
THR: Ryan and Amber had one of the biggest moments in the finale -- and seemed to be shopping for wedding rings. Can we expect Matt Lauria to return and them to explore marriage?
Katims: The intention of that moment in the montage was supposed to be a very playful moment of them looking at these rings at a time when they felt so positive about their relationship and so in love. But it wasn't like, "Let's buy one of these rings" at that moment. It was a playful moment that could be foreshadowing for next year. Their relationship has been so great, it's something we'd love to continue to explore. I certainly think there's a lot to explore with how that relationship seemed to have so much going on. I'd love to have Matt back.
THR: Should Parenthood viewers begin sending boxes of Kleenex to NBC to encourage them to renew it?
Katims: We always wonder, "Maybe this year they'll pick us up early." (Laughs) But that's up to them! That said, I think one of the things that's so powerful about the show being around four seasons has been the support and passion the fans have. I've seen on several shows how powerful that is, and it does affect the network's decisions about shows. I feel like not only are Parenthood fans passionate, but that passion has grown over the run of the show and people got more invested as the show has gone on. That really does help keep shows on the air.
What did you think of the Parenthood season four finale? Hit the comments with your thoughts.