A woman torn between her gorgeous younger fiancee who treats her like a queen and her curmudgeonly older boss who often insults her does not sound like a plausible scenario, but when the boss, Hank, is played by the hilarious Ray Romano and the woman is “Parenthood’s” flighty Sarah Braverman (Lauren Graham) it is all too believable. In the show’s previous episode, Hank kissed Sarah. She reacted by deciding to move in with her fiancee, Mark (Jason Ritter). This week, Sarah’s teenage son Drew (Miles Hizer) is less than thrilled about living with an instant father figure. In a recent call with reporters, Graham and Romano revealed what draws their characters together, why not even the show’s producers know which man will end up with Sarah, and who would prevail in a fight between the Bravermans and the Barones.
To Graham, Sarah’s connection to Hank makes perfect sense. “The dynamic of this guy who has a sadness and teases her, but is also smart and strong…it’s great,” Graham says. “And I think they’ve written this sort of slowly developing relationship between these two people who have a past and who have pain in that past. There’s something about each other that they like, and it has been very nice for me to have as a piece of moving my character forward.”
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Romano thinks Sarah brings out the best in Hank. “As it goes along we find out a little more and more and he’s a flawed person,” Romano admits. “He’s a troubled guy and yet I guess we’re finding out the good in him.”
Hank is the second man that Sarah has kissed while dating Mark. (The first was her ex-husband.) “She often makes the wrong decisions but I think in this story you see what is so compelling and that’s what’s interesting to me,” says Graham. “I think she’s had a tough time. She hasn’t really settled down. This is still someone who is just finding a career who is just sort of re-identifying herself. She’s kind of done everything for her kids and just survived and now is, you know, trying to define who she is.”
However she does not see Sarah’s subsequent decision to move in with Mark as a sign that she is attempting to fight her feelings for Hank. “I think it made her resolve a little stronger to try to keep her life on the track that she’d planned and hoped for and finally looked like she’s about to achieve…But yes in that moment I think she was like, ‘This felt like a sort of step outside the lines. Let me bring myself back.’ But I don’t know that it’s going to work. “
Most of the Bravermans are supportive of Sarah’s decision to take things to the next level with Mark, with one notable exception. “I think in general, you know, the family sort of wants her to be settled and in general, you know, feel that Mark is a great guy,” Graham says. “So there isn’t a huge reaction in the negative to that. I think what’s difficult is to move my high school-aged son, you know, into a new domestic situation is hard for him.”
According to Graham, as much as the writing seems to indicate that Sarah is ultimately going to leave Mark for Hank, nobody on the show knows how the story will end. “We still don’t really know what is going to happen, nor does the creator of the show [Jason Katims] if we believe what he said. One of the funny things about this show is he kind of adjusts as things go along, and kind of picks up on the threads that are interesting to him more than maybe they do on most shows.”
If Hank does end up becoming a major part of the Sarah’s life, Romano’s years of experience as the patriarch of another loud, close knit TV family will provide the perfect preparation. In fact, in a theoretical fight between the two clans, he thinks the Barones would emerge victorious. “They have the numbers on us but we have Doris Roberts who’s an animal… Craig T. Nelson’s is taller than I thought but he’s not as tall as Brad [Garrett]. But, you know, Brad’s six foot eight. And he’s Jewish so that’s like a world’s record right there. That’s the tallest Jewish man I think in the world… I got to go – yes. I’m going to go with the Barones.”
Graham disagrees. “You’re outnumbered and you’re out-youthed. I mean, think of all the youths in the Bravermans,” she says, prompting Romano to admit, “I wouldn’t want to fight. Lauren could beat me up.”
New episodes of “Parenthood” air Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC.