Parenthood executive producer Jason Katims and actress Monica Potter recently shared their thoughts on the NBC drama’s new breast cancer storyline.
This season on Parenthood, actress Monica Potter has taken on a new challenge in playing Kristina Braverman that hits close to home for many women. Although fans have come to know Kristina through her home life with husband Adam, played by Peter Krause, the Braverman family is now dealing with breast cancer.
It’s a storyline that will last throughout the entire fourth season of Parenthood despite some initial hesitation.
“First there was the question of whether or not it was something that we wanted to take on on the show,” said executive producer Jason Katims to The Deadbolt this week. “And I struggled with that decision because I thought it was difficult subject matter and subject matter that could be challenging from the point of view of storytelling, and sometimes, too, to watch it.”
For Katims, taking on the weight of an issue like breast cancer was both personally rewarding and professionally familiar. Although Jason Katims and his wife dealt with breast cancer away from Parenthood a couple of years ago, he was also familiar with weighty subject matter on the show since the pilot included a storyline about Asperger’s Syndrome.
But to get beyond the heavy emotional weight of breast cancer in order to make it work within Parenthood, Katims felt it was necessary and the right thing to do both personally and professionally.
“It was incredibly gratifying,” said the executive producer of Parenthood. “In a lot of ways, it was cathartic to do that. So that gave me courage to approach this storyline. I just felt it was something that I went through with my wife and my family and it was the kind of storyline that Parenthood, the show, would be able to tell well.”
As for Monica Potter, Kristina’s breast cancer on the show presented an opportunity in real life. It’s an opportunity that all women need to proactively deal with at some point in their lives.
“I was on-board,” Potter told The Deadbolt about her reaction to Kristina’s new condition. “I actually emailed Jason over the summer and I went for my first mammogram in April. I had mentioned it to my husband that this would be a great storyline. Knowing that it touched Jason personally, I just reached out and said, ‘What if we tried to do a storyline on Kristina?’ And he emailed me right away and said, ‘I got the chills,’ because they had been working on that storyline already.”
At the same time, however, Monica Potter was also real about her character’s new situation. “I was scared,” added Potter, “I’ve got a lot of friends that have gone through it.”
This week on Parenthood in the episode “The Talk”, despite Adam’s reservations, Kristina encourages Max (Max Burkholder) to extend himself even though she may be too preoccupied to help him.
Although Kristina may be preoccupied with her options, Monica Potter was clear in where she wanted to take the character as her new storyline progresses.
So how did Jason and Monica work together on Parenthood to incorporate it into the daily life of Kristina and Adam?
“My first conversation with Monica about it,” Katims continued, “she said, ‘Look, I really want to find the humor in the situation, too. We don’t want to get to a place where I’m crying all the time and that’s all I’m doing.’ I was so happy to hear that was her take, because the whole thing with going through something like this, that I’ve found, was that as you’re going through it, life goes on. You have your children, getting your children to school and doing all the stuff of life. Life still continues. That was important to me in the way that we told this story. That it was have the ring of truth to it.”
Parenthood airs Tuesday nights at 10/9c on NBC.