Last year was a tough season for Parenthood, on-screen and off-screen. The show kept viewers reaching for the tissues when Kristina Braverman (Monica Potter) battled breast cancer, while her niece Amber (Mae Whitman) struggled with her feelings for a former soldier suffering from PTSD. Behind the camera, the perennial bubble show had been renewed for 15 episodes — shorter than the usual 22 — and ended its season way back in January. However, seven months later, the show has been renewed for a full 22-episode season and has been moved to one of NBC's most historically significant timeslots — Thursdays at 10/9c — putting it in the same category as great NBC dramas such as Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and ER.
"The fact that we're being put into such a premium timeslot is another indicator of [NBC's] support," showrunner Jason Katims told reporters Saturday at NBC's Television Critics Association fall previews. "We've definitely had our struggles and our frustrations along the way, but I feel so positive about it right now."
The Braverman clan will also be celebrating when the fifth season returns on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 10/9c, Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Jasmine (Joy Bryant) will have welcomed their new baby and, according to new footage, there will be a wedding. So who's getting married? Get that scoop and more:
Here comes the bride: In a new trailer shown at the panel, Sarah (Lauren Graham) utters the phrase, "Let's plan your wedding." So does that mean Amber and Ryan (Matt Lauria) really are taking the plunge after they ended Season 4 looking at rings? Viewers will have to wait and see. "I think it is that crucial time where you don't know where they are going to go necessarily," Whitman said. "It's a big decision to take like that when you're young. ... It's a huge choice so I'd be interested to see how they tackle that." But even though there may be talk of a wedding, it sounds like their romance may still hit some turbulence. "They're obviously very passionate about each other," Whitman said. "It's just interesting to see, as different questions come up in a relationship when you're an adult and it's more serious, how they continue to balance each other out and how they both grow as adults and if they will grow together or separately." So how will her large family react to the news? Uncle Crosby, aka Shepard, gave her his blessing. "Abs like that come along once in a lifetime," he quipped.
Sarah is moving on up... to her own pad: Now that her daughter (might be) contemplating marriage and her son is going off to college, Sarah will be suffering from empty nest syndrome. "This is a character who struggles to find some consistent either employment or relationship, but I think she's doing better and we're going to have an opportunity to tell the story of, 'OK, when your kids are gone, what is your relationship like?" Graham said. "Now we begin the process of becoming peers," she said of Sarah's relationships with Amber and Drew (Miles Heizer). Thankfully, having an empty nest will give Sarah lots of time to focus on herself. "Sarah spent so much of her energy last season going between Hank and Mark," Katims said. "This is a year of her wanting to figure out her life and ... not be focused solely on a relationship." First things first: She finally has her own place! "I think there's been a lot of progress. I have an apartment. I have a bed," Graham said. "In order to live there more cheaply, I'm the super, which is fun because I will interact with a lot of tenants."
Oh, baby: To reflect real life, the show will jump ahead nearly nine months from where Season 4 left off, which means Jasmine and Crosby are parents to a new baby. Unlike many actors, Shepard said he's been enjoying acting with the "conveyor belt of babies," as he called it, now that he is a new dad himself. "Now I love babies and I'm supposed to be frustrated with the crying babies in the scene and I'm like, 'Oh my God, look at this little stinker,'" Shepard said. "I got a software upgrade and I love it." Shepard's on-screen wife, Bryant, is now also benefiting from her co-star's recent attitude change. "It definitely helps me because I don't have kids, so he's telling me how to hold the baby," she said.
New problems for Joel and Julia: Just as the couple closed the book on their issues with Victor at the end of last season, there will be a few new curveballs coming their way. "There's major role reversal in the fact that these construction opportunities are suddenly coming his way and we're going to see that," Sam Jaeger said. Added Erika Christensen: "Julia is still unemployed and not happy about it."
Adam and Kristina's struggle isn't over just yet: Katims and the cast were less clear about what will be next for Adam (Peter Krause) and Kristina after she was deemed cancer-free at the end of last season. But it sounds like her struggle last year will still play a big role in their future. "With Adam and Kristina, the fact that they've just been through a season like they just went through, how would somebody react to that?" Katim asked. "With Adam and Kristina, it's about what they've just been through that will inform what their next season is."
Parenthood returns on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 10/9c on NBC.