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Coming to terms with the end of 'Parenthood'

As Parenthood gears up for its final farewell early next year, scores of fans are stockpiling tissues in anticipation of what looks to be a very emotional goodbye. Since learning of the show’s fate late last spring, surrogate members of Team Braverman have let their outrage—and grief—known via social media (see an example Tweet after the jump).

The show’s Facebook wall is also full of comments voicing indignation about the show’s cancellation. Bottom line is this: Fans are upset. Really, really upset. And they should be. Parenthood is a breath of fresh air on network TV. Oh, sure, it’s full of tear-jerking moments that render even the toughest soul into sniffling messes each week, but that’s life—and that is precisely what makes this show so important to its fans.

Over the course of its six-season run, Parenthood has had a bumpy ride; it seems each season ended with uncertainty, and many with abbreviated episode orders. When season 4 was thought to possibly be the last, every storyline was wrapped up in case there wasn’t a season 5: Crosby and Jasmine learned about her pregnancy, Kristina got the all-clear and she and Adam celebrated with a trip to Hawaii, Drew got into Berkeley, and Sarah ended up with neither Hank nor Mark (which was actually a good thing, remember?). And when season 5 got a full 22-episode order, we all rejoiced because the Braverman life could continue! And it did, until May, when once again every storyline came to somewhat of a conclusion as the fate of the show—and of the Bravermans—was on the bubble. Add all that uncertainty to the emotion of the stories, and it’s been an exhausting ride, hasn’t it? I think this show has kept Kleenex in business:

But as angry and sad as the fans have been, Jason Katims (PH‘s show runner and one of its executive producers) made something very clear: This final season is a gift. Being able to go out on its own terms and to put a period on every storyline is critical, not only to the people in and behind the show, but to all of us who live and breathe with them. Because we do. In an era where it seems most shows on TV are about investigating crime, the drama of the ER, and all sorts of scandals, this show has been a breath of fresh air. Sure, it’s messy and complicated and emotional, but it mimics life and family, and it’s that familiarity that draws us in and keeps us invested, no matter how much it makes us cry.

To many fans, Parenthood has been much more than an hour escape each week; it’s been a lifeline that has helped them through situations and issues that mirror those that the Bravermans are going through:

Children with special needs, job stresses, separation issues, life-threatening illnesses, financial ups and downs—the Bravermans have helped many know that they’re not alone. We’ve cried tears of laughter, sadness, and joy together, and as a result, Parenthood has touched many lives over the past six years on a much deeper level than as simply a television show.

But even though we’re resisting it, our goodbyes would have been so much more heartbreaking if they had to be done without closure, no matter how difficult we know that closure will be (i.e., the impending “circle of life” storyline that we’ve been promised is coming … and the reason my local Target is out of Kleenex). While it’s understandable that we’re heartbroken about losing a family, we should be grateful for the end we’ve been given, even if we might not agree with how it’s playing out. Because isn’t that why we love this show? Much like our own families, we don’t always agree with things that are done or decisions that are made, and we can’t control the fate of the members we love. All we can do is take the ride and try our best to enjoy it, because that’s life. And that, in essence, is what Parenthood has always been about—and still is—even in its goodbye.

With only four episodes left, it’s understandable that we’re getting emotional, especially when it looks like we all might have to say goodbye to our team captain forever. But let’s try to pull ourselves together, dry our eyes, wipe our snotty noses, and man up.

Oh, who am I kidding? Let’s do what the Bravermans have taught us to do in times of crisis: Gather together, cry a few tears, and then dance like we’ve never danced before.

Parenthood dance party

Parenthood on NBC

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