'Parenthood' Season 3 Premiere: Jason Katims Teases What's Ahead

The showrunner tells THR: “The story we want to tell is how complicated Sarah’s life is.”
David Strick
Jason Katims and Peter Krause

[Warning, this post contains spoilers if you haven’t watched the Season 3 premiere yet.]

Following an almost eleventh-hour renewal, NBC’s Parenthood returned with an emotional premiere that reunited Sarah (Lauren Graham) with Mark (Jason Ritter) and immediately tested Haddie (Sarah Ramos) and Alex’s (Michael B. Jordan) relationship.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up withshowrunner Jason Katims to discuss how Julia’s (Erika Christensen) disgruntled office coffee lady will factor into her plans to adopt with husband Joel (Sam Jaeger), how Adam (Peter Krause) and Crosby’s (Dax Shepard) potential new recording studio business will impact the eldest Braverman’s family and if the series has room for more musical guest stars.

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THR: You certainly didn’t waste any time in bringing Jason Ritter’s Mark back. How will Seth’s (John Corbett) impending return impact Sarah and Mark?
The story we want to tell is how complicated Sarah’s life is: while she’s falling in love with Mark and everything seems really positive, she’s also still deeply connected to her ex-husband despite his wounds and faults. I’m really excited about the arc we’re doing with John Corbett and how we watch Sarah try to both manage her relationship with Seth and try to move forward with Mark at the same time and how complicated that is. The story we’re telling over those episodes, it’s very real; it never pushes it to the point of melodrama. It’s a very real sort of complicated situation that Sarah finds herself in.

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THR: How will Alex’s arrest affect Haddie and the rest of the Bravermans?
It has enormous impact on Haddie and the rest of family. Haddie and Alex have this really great relationship in so many ways but they’re at very different stages of in their lives. When this event happens it really shines a light on the fact that she’s still in high school and she wants to enjoy senior year and he’s really living in a very much more adult world. It really challenges their relationship and puts into question whether they can really stay together. It’s also very scary for Alex because he’s done so well pulling his life together after all that he’s been through. This story is a reminder that it’s really challenging to be able to change your life. This is really putting that very much on his mind.

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THR: As Julia and Joel go about her efforts to adopt, how much more of Zoey, the coffee cart woman, will we see?
That’s a story that will play out over the majority of the season this year. We really wanted to explore the experience of trying to adopt but we needed to figure out a way that was dramatic and also find humor in it even though it’s a serious and heartbreaking subject matter. This relationship with Zoey is one that continues throughout the season.

THR: How will Adam and Crosby’s new recording studio business partnership offset the financial burden that Adam and Kristina have been hit with in the wake of his layoff?
It’s going to be a challenging year for Adam and Kristina: They’ve got a new baby, a special needs son and that can add an expense to your life in addition to the emotional strain of it. They have a daughter who is in her senior year who is hoping to go to college next year. There’s a lot on their plate. Adam, meanwhile, is starting a new business and even if it were to be successful, it’s going to take time to be possible. This might set Kristina going back to work sooner rather than later after she has the baby and other tensions that might come out of that. Needing to figure out how to continue to take care of the kids while both of them are working.

The recording studio is going to be a really fun and great story line. We have Cee Lo Green coming in to do an episode where he’s playing himself and he comes in out of the blue and they get this job even though they’re not quite open and ready yet. It’s watching Adam and Crosby try to make it work with Cee Lo and you see the tensions between these two brothers but also the bond between the two brothers. It also gives us lots of excuses to have Adam and Crosby together in scenes, and I’ve always loved the dymanic between the two of them. It also gives us an excuse to have Kristina stop over to pick up Max after school, and Jabbar is there, Jasmine is there. It gives us a natural kind of way for these characters to show up in each other’s lives.

THR: Any other big musical guests planned?
Right now we don’t have plans for any other big names coming in. We’re trying to stay to the reality that this is a Bay Area recording studio just getting started. There are really fun story lines of people coming in to the recording studio and it gives you the opportunity to have fun guest cast opportunities.

Parenthood airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit

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