That title is a statement of pure and simple fact. Monica Potter deserves an Emmy. And she’s not going to get it for this season of Parenthood.
The Emmy nominations were announced this morning. There were other snubs (no Tatiana Maslany for Orphan Black) and other great surprises (Adam Driver nominated for a fine season of Girls), but the nomination that would’ve mattered most was not there. There will always be nominations and lack of nominations to get upset about but this is the worst offender of this type this year and one that was utterly heartbreaking for me to see left out for both personal reasons and as an avid viewer of great television.
Monica Potter plays Kristina Braverman on NBC’s Parenthood, wife of Peter Krause’s Adam, the closest thing to a main character the ensemble has. Up until last year, Kristina was, in my opinion, by far the most annoying and uppity character on the show. The hostility she showed toward Lauren Graham’s Sarah during the Haddie-Amber-Steve fiasco of the first season, her sour reaction to Adam’s honesty about the kiss his secretary had given him in the second season, and her horrible treatment of Dax Shepard’s Crosby after his colossal mess-up in the third season. All of it added up to a self-righteous, non-relatable, and rude portrayal of a strict mother in middle-class America.
So, why am I now furious that she wasn’t recognized for her work? After three full seasons of annoyance and petty parenting? There’s a few reasons for it. The first is the easiest to talk about. Because, simply put, in this incredible fourth season of Parenthood, she deserved it. Watch this clip below and tell me that she didn’t deserve it.
Monica Potter deserves this nomination, and if you watched this past season of Parenthood, then you know that better than anyone else. I could go on and on about her performance, but it would serve you better to simply watch it. Here’s another clip displaying the tremendous work she was doing last year.
Parenthood is the best drama currently on television and Monica Potter gave the best performance on television last year. I don’t say either of those things lightly (especially with as much television as I watch), but it’s entirely true. Not one other show has the heart and the storytelling prowess that Parenthood does. Nothing else can come close to making you feel the feelings this show will make you feel. Parenthood is about family and what that means to a person. While the Bravermans might not be a group you recognize exactly as your family, there will be characters you recognize from your life: Craig T. Nelson’s Zeek, the patriarch who’s determined to keep his kids and their kids close and all together, Lauren Graham’s Sarah who never stopped being a kid quite long enough to get her life under way, Mae Whitman’s Amber who we’ve gotten to watch grow into a wonderful, smart, young woman after being a juvenile delinquent for so long, Dax Shepard’s Crosby who didn’t realize how bad he wanted to be a father until suddenly he was one. Most importantly though, when you watch Parenthood, you’ll feel like you’re a Braverman, too.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Monica Potter deserves this, but moreover, Parenthood deserves this. A show that brings you right into the thick of it, gets you involved in a family very much based in reality (and occasionally like your own), and makes you care more than you thought you could about fictional characters. What more could you ask for from a great drama?
You see the kicker is in this last season Kristina Braverman was diagnosed with breast cancer, and there were several points in the season where I thought she might actually die. Parenthood isn’t your typical network drama. It’s not overly soapy to a point the characters are personified stereotypes. It’s molded real characters in real, relatable situations and when something happens on this show, it’s like a punch to the gut and you feel all the feelings you’re meant to. However, unlike some other shows, they feel completely and genuinely earned.
The most important reason that Monica Potter deserves this Emmy is because of how real and heartbreaking and relatable her performance and in general this story was. It’s not easy for a show to do a cancer storyline without feeling generic, but Parenthood pulled it off here, creating a raw emotional experience.
It’s because we’ve all been through this on some level or another. The state that cancer is in right now means that we have all known someone, however close to us, who’s had cancer. This was an important story to tell and it was the right time for them to tell it. They spent time on each character in Kristina’s family and how they were dealing with it in their own ways. They let us into this family’s life during the hardest time in their life. And we knew exactly how it felt every step of the way.
The uncertainty and confusion Kristina feels when she gets her diagnosis. Her struggle to accept the reality of the situation. Her fear and anger at having to tell her family about her potentially fatal disease. Her attempt to conform by shaving her head and being met with negativity. Her eventual turn into the skid and acceptance of her fate. Her video left to her children in the event she does pass. And thank God, her emotional recovery back to normality.
We get to see her husband, Adam. His refusal to accept that his wife might die. His compassion and helpfulness in the hardest time of his wife’s life. His struggle to come to terms with their new reality. His fear at having to move on without his wife and raise his children alone. His willingness to do anything to change Kristina’s circumstances. His absolute and endless love for his wife.
We get to see her children: Sarah Ramos’s Haddie, the one who left the nest and has to experience this from afar, Max Burkholder’s Max, whose Asperger’s makes it hard for him to understand and sympathize with the situation, and Nora, the newborn daughter who’s too young to have even the slightest clue what’s happening.
I’ve lived this story as I’m sure many others have. I’ve watched my mother become bed ridden by this disease and too sick to move. I’ve watched my father struggle to do anything in his power to change the situation. I’ve watched my brother be too young to understand what’s happening. And I’ve been that boy who felt so helpless.
This is not just a cancer story. This is everyone’s cancer story. The way that it was told, the amount of time spent with each character in their new reality, the rawness of the material.
This story was actually a great help to me. I was only eight years old when my mother died of breast cancer, and I honestly don’t remember very much about it. Through Kristina Braverman, I was able to remember what it was like, remember how I felt during those times. Sure, it was hard to remember those feelings again but ultimately it made me feel even closer to my mother, maybe closer than I’ve ever felt to her.
I believe that this story is the best positive reinforcement a cancer survivor or anyone who knows/has known someone with cancer could possibly receive. It lets you know that others are going through the same thing, and it reminds you that sometimes the good guys win one. Maybe that’s all you need. For me, it was. It breaks my heart that my mother died from this, but Kristina Braverman and all of Parenthood reminded me that there are people who recover and there are families that make it through this. I may not have been one of the lucky ones in this case, but it was enough to know that there are lucky ones.
For all of these reasons, Monica Potter should’ve been nominated today. Because she deserves this Emmy. Because Parenthood deserves this Emmy. And because we all deserve this goddamn Emmy.