‘Parenthood’ Returns with New Drama for the Bravermans

Parenthood (NBC)

It has been nine months since viewers last saw the Bravermans. When the new season of “Parenthood” premieres on September 11, almost as much time will have passed in their lives.  “There’s a five month time gap because we try to stay pretty close to where we are in the calendar year,” showrunner Jason Katims tells XfinityTV.com. Season 4 promises to be one of great change for all of the characters. Joel and Julia adjust to adopting an older child, while Adam and Kristina send their oldest daughter to college. Crosby and Jasmine are now married. Sarah, now engaged, meets another man. Katims gave XfinityTV.com the scoop on all of the Bravermans complicated lives.

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Will Ray Romano Come Between Sarah and Jason Ritter?: Last season, Sarah (Lauren Graham) felt like she hit the jackpot when the younger, handsome, stable Mark (Jason Ritter) proposed to her. (Yes, she accepted.) This season, a new character played by Ray Romano may tempt her away from him. That may sound unlikely, but remember she kissed grungy, drug-addicted John Corbett last season  even though she was dating Mark. Katims explains: “He plays a commercial photographer. In the first episode of the season, Sarah, who is recently unemployed, sort of happens into getting a job as his assistant at a studio. That’s how they kind of meet and she’s working for him. He plays a little bit of an acerbic, kind of a grouch, slightly. Not over the top. So at first their relationship, they go back and forth a little bit. She tells him everything that’s on her mind and he kind of says nothing. That’s the dynamic between them and little by little, they start to get to know each other a little bit and over time, over the course of many episodes, she starts to see qualities in him and they start to kind of connect and it suggests that there’s going to be a complication with her and Jason Ritter’s character.”

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Adam and Kristina Experience Empty Nest Syndrome — and a Curveball: Adam (Peter Krause) keeps the promise he made to Haddie (Sarah Ramos) in the Season 3 finale. She will attend Cornell instead of saving money by living at home and going to U.C Berkeley. “At the beginning of the season, Adam and Kristina (Monica Potter) are dealing with the fact that Haddie is leaving for college,” says Katims. “It’s more about how emotionally that is affecting them, letting go of her [rather than the expense]. Of course the first thing that they do after she leaves is they go out and buy a dog to replace her.” However, they soon face a bigger problem than training their dog to be as helpful around the house as Haddie. “We’ll see over the course of the season that there is also going to be a curveball thrown at them that is going to occupy much of their time and energy. Usually I’m very open about putting the storylines out there, but I’m trying to protect this one, but it’s a big story and it’s something that will affect both Adam and Kristina and the entire extended family as well.” Could either Adam or Kristina be diagnosed with a serious illness?

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Max Starts Middle School: Max (Max Burkholder) faces one of life’s toughest challenges: starting middle school. What is a hellish experience for nearly everyone is made more difficult by his Aspergers. “It’s a new kind of stage for him of being in a place with much bigger kids where he’s got to handle himself accordingly and that will create additional challenges for him,” Katims reveals. “He’s also growing up so there’s him having to deal with puberty and changes so there’s a lot to explore with Max’s character.”

Joel and Julia Discover Adoption is Not Easy: In the season finale, Joel (Sam Jaeger) and Julia (Erika Christensen) unexpectedly found themselves the adoptive parents of an elementary-school aged child, after losing their shot at adopting a newborn. They soon discover that adding an older child to their family will not be easy. “He’s older than Sydney and it definitely affects their family in a major way,” Katims says. “First of all, we want to kind of look at adoption as really a wonderful thing but it’s something that comes into place over time. Somebody doesn’t immediately come into a house and accept Julia and Joel as their mother and father and sister… It’s one thing to have different parenting styles when your kid is basically functioning but when you have a child who is challenging and, Victor is definitely challenging in ways that they haven’t been challenged before, when that happens, the differences you have in parenting styles come to light.”

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Amber Gets a New Job and a New Man: Last season, Amber (Mae Whitman) fell for her older boss. This season, that will definitely not be a problem. “We find out at the beginning of the season Amber has just started working at the Luncheonette for her uncles Crosby and Adam at the recording studio… I feel like we sort of have established she is a burgeoning musician, or an aspiring musician, that is clearly something that is of interest to her, and I think it’s a really interesting to have her there as an assistant at the studio and have her be a part of that storyline,” says Katims. Amber will also get a more appropriate love interest. Her grandfather Zeek will be the inadvertent matchmaker. “Camille, who has done all this volunteer work, kind of coerces him to do volunteer work and he winds up going to a vet center,” Katims says. “We end up introducing through that storyline a character who is going to have a major role this season…  a vet returning from Afghanistan who… ends up meeting Amber.” He’s going to be played by Matt Lauria (“Friday Night Lights”). FNL fans will remember that the series ended with Lauria’s character, Luke, joining the army. Could this be an unofficial continuation of his story?

Crosby and Jasmine Adjust to Married Life: Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Jasmine (Joy Bryant) have conducted their entire relationship backward. They had a kid when they barely knew each other, then slowly forged a relationship. After several break-ups, they finally got married at the end of last season. That does not mean that they will now live happily ever after.  “I don’t think that they’re going to fall into the same kind of arguments that they did previously,” admits Katims. “However, it’s the first year of marriage which I think is full of potential issues that will come up like if they’re dividing their finances so it’s about issues of money. They’re combining their social calendars. For example, there’s one episode where Jasmine is very much a planner and Crosby is very much a play it by ear guy. It sort of plays out how their different styles comes to play in their relationship and challenges their relationship.”

“Parenthood” Returns on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 10/9c on NBC.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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