Jason Katims: Mining turbulent adolescence in ‘Parenthood’

Youth Impact Report 2012: Channeling Talent

Jason Katims’ first TV gig was writing for the seminal teen drama “My So-Called Life.” Ever since then, he’s been fascinated with depicting adolescence at its fullest and most turbulent.

“I’ve always thought adolescence is a great story idea,” he says. “It’s when people are forming, obviously, so there’s so much to say.”

After exec producing high school-centered shows “Roswell,” “Boston Public” and “Friday Night Lights,” Katims developed the primetime adaptation of Ron Howard’s 1989 comedy “Parenthood,” which follows the extended Braverman clan: four adult siblings, their parents, partners, and eight children.

The Braverman cousins range from infant to late teens, and unlike shows that skimp on the younger actors’ storylines to focus on the higher-profile (and higher-paid) adults, “Parenthood” provides the kids with some of the series’ most interesting subplots.

“As we’ve gone on, because we’ve got these young actors who are so strong, as writers we’ve been inspired to write to them more. The great thing about television is that we get to see these actors evolve as their characters evolve.”

For example, as Max Burkholder grew more comfortable portraying a boy with Asperger syndrome, Katims and his writing team felt compelled to offer him more screen time.

“When we first cast him, I wasn’t sure how much we’d be able to lean into that storyline,” admits Katims, whose son has Asperger. “But when we saw how incredible he was, the more we were able to tell stories specifically for him.”

As a result, Katims feels confident that, like Claire Danes, Taylor Kitsch, Minka Kelly and other young performers he’s worked with, this cast will also graduate to successful acting careers.

Impact: The Emmy-winning showrunner develops solid stories for “Parenthood’s” youngest generation.
Next: The fourth season of “Parenthood”
Cause: Autism Speaks

Return to the Youth Impact Report 2012 >>

More Voices

  • Sam Mendes Bong Joon Ho 1917

    Final Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win in the Major Categories?

    The 92nd Academy Awards are almost here… For films like “Joker” and “Marriage Story,” the journey to the Oscars began five months ago with their premieres in Venice. “1917” had the least amount of time on the campaign trail: The Sam Mendes war movie didn’t start screening until late November. In the end, however, it [...]

  • Harriet Movie BTS

    Academy Needs to Start Taking Chances With Noms; Rewards Will Follow (Column)

    Throughout its history, the Academy Awards has been subject to intense criticism for the issues it embraces — and ignores. This year’s uproar over the lack of diversity among nominations in the highest-profile awards categories is the latest example. This failure reflects a chronic dearth of opportunity at Hollywood’s top artistic and financial levels. The milestone nominations [...]

  • Baby Yoda The Mandolorian

    Media Giants Make Smaller Moves With an Eye Toward Future Gains in Streaming Era

    Maybe the empire can strike back. Or at least strike anew. Over the past few months, a number of developments have emerged for traditional media companies that indicate a spirit of reinvention and experimentation is spreading across the industry. There’s a new willingness to take a hard look at long-standing operations and make big and [...]

  • Olivia Wilde Booksmart BTS

    Olivia Wilde on Her Move From Acting to Directing With 'Booksmart'

    Olivia Wilde began acting in 2004 when she was 20 years old. It never occurred to her that she might also enjoy stepping behind the lens. “I always wanted to make movies and be a part of the moviemaking process,” she tells me. “I always assumed acting was the way in, because for many young [...]

  • Oscar Statue Oscars Placeholder

    Oscars 2020 Predictions: Who Will Get Nominated?

    The Oscar race is on. And it’s about to get a lot more intense when the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announces the nominations for the 92nd Oscars on Jan. 13. Golden Globes shutout “The Irishman” is favored to earn several nods, as will “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which went home [...]

  • Golden Globes Analysis Oscar Race

    Why Golden Globes Will Likely Have Little Effect on Oscar Nominations (Column)

    With the Globes now behind us and Oscar noms rapidly approaching on Jan. 13, what should we be paying attention to in Hollywood’s biggest film awards race? Surefire bets are Globe winners Renée Zellweger (“Judy”), who already has one Oscar, and Brad Pitt, who should garner his third acting nomination for his work in Quentin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content