"I think it was the way the Christmas episode was teased the week before, where Kristina was rushed to the hospital. Before that week, people really felt like that Kristina might die in that episode, and it was really kind of a wild thing to see people's reactions," he tells TVGuide.com. "What was really interesting about it for me — and I take it as compliment — is that the audience felt like she might have died in the episode. To me, they felt that the show was dealing with these things in a way that wasn't typical of television."
The current season of Parenthood, which comes to a close Tuesday at 10/9c on NBC, has defied TV norms in more ways than one. "There were a few things I was nervous about in taking that [breast cancer] story on and one of the things I was nervous about was, 'Is it going to be too heavy and are people going to turn away from the show?' And I think the opposite happened," he says. "While a lot of our stories are not easy to watch, I think that people feel compelled to watch."
In addition to the increased attention from fans, Katims says he also felt increased support from NBC this past season. "It sometimes happens where you can feel that people not only think the show is a good show for the network, but they themselves become fans of the show," Katims says. "Also the show has started to do better and is — while it remains and I'm sure always will be on some level — a bubble show, the show's audience is solid and even showing signs of growth so I think that doesn't hurt."
But will the drama be able to keep up the momentum spurred by the critic and viewer acclaim? While most network TV series will wrap their seasons in April or May after 22 episodes, Season 4 of Parenthood is closing in January after only 15 episodes. Although the show has not yet been renewed, if it is picked up, Season 5 would presumably not premiere until September — eight months later. "Obviously we prefer to do a longer season and have the audience be with it longer and not have such a long hiatus. Assuming we get picked up, which is a big assumption, we'll be off the air for quite a long time," Katims says. "But I wait for shows. I think we're so used to the cable world now. You wait for Homeland. You wait for Breaking Bad. I'm still waiting for Curb Your Enthusiasm. You wait for a long time, and I do feel that Parenthood is proving to be one of the shows that has such a faithful base audience. I have confidence they will all come back and they'll find us."
Although Katims says there hasn't been any talk yet with NBC about renewing the show, he feels optimistic about the return of the Braverman clan come fall. "It's still very early and clearly, right now they're involved with launching their midseason shows and they're looking at pilots," he says. "But I do feel that we're ending in a good place here creatively and I think we're ending in a good place in terms of our audience so I'm hopeful that we'll get a Season 5."
Parenthood's season finale airs Tuesday at 10/9c on NBC. Will you miss Parenthood? Do you want it to come back for a fifth season?