As Parenthood Nears End, Jason Katims Admits: ‘We’ve Been Building Up to Losing a Family Member’

Ben Cohen/NBC

Oh, the agony of anticipation. Fans of Parenthood–the critically acclaimed dramedy revolving around the sprawling Braverman family–have spent much of the series’ sixth and final season in a state of anxious dread about the declining cardiac health of the clan’s patriarch, Zeek (Craig T. Nelson). On the January 29 finale, the other shoe–or, in this case, Kleenex–finally drops. “We’ve been building up to losing a family member, and that happens,” confirms executive producer Jason Katims. “But it’s not a depressing ending. There’s also a lot about life moving on and people moving on.”

Falling into that category: Business-partner brothers Adam (Peter Krause) and Crosby (Dax Shepard) reach a conclusion about the fate of their beleaguered recording studio, the Luncheonette; Sarah (Lauren Graham) makes a decision that, says Katims, “could change her future a lot”; and Julia (Erika Christensen) and Joel (Sam Jaeger) will at last reclaim their former supercouple status–or not. “They’re going to get another curveball,” warns Katims. (When pressed for details, he adds with a chuckle, “They’re going to get trapped in a well and resort to cannibalism.”)

Beyond the present-day resolutions, viewers will also get flash-forward glimpses of where each member of the brood ends up down the line. “The spirit of Parenthood is watching the Bravermans growing and changing and evolving,” says Katims, who recalls the final days of filming the series as being extremely emotional and also very celebratory. “So I thought it would be nice to have these moments of not only where they are now, but where they’re heading.”

It’s a fitting send-off for a show whose hallmark has been creating uncommonly realistic and relatable characters. “It is surprising how intimately involved we can all get with them,” Katims says. “I got an email from a friend recently, and at the end he sent his regards to my wife and kids. Then he wrote, ‘Weirdly, I feel like I should send my regards to the Bravermans, too.'” We know just the feeling.

Parenthood, Series finale, Thursday, January 29, 10/9c, NBC