After protracted negotiations that nearly resulted in the show's cancellation, NBC's Parenthood has finally been renewed for a sixth and final season. It will run for 13 episodes. The renewal was officially announced Sunday morning, along with NBC's 2014-15 schedule: On Monday, the network presents its new and returning shows to advertisers in New York City for upfront sales.
Because of its large cast, producing Parenthood has always been an expensive proposition, and it has often been on the bubble. But no more so than this year, when NBC wanted the actors to effectively cut their salaries by appearing in fewer episodes. The wrangling was first reported by Deadline, and has been confirmed by BuzzFeed.
A year ago, NBC gave Parenthood a vote of confidence by renewing it for a full 22 episodes — but it was also moved to Thursdays at 10 p.m., a slot pitting it against ABC's rising Scandal. Parenthood's steady ratings suffered as a result. Its April 18 finale drew 3.7 million viewers and a 1.3 in the 18 to 49 demographic (and that was up from recent episodes). By contrast, Scandal's finale the same night brought in 10.5 million viewers and a 3.5 among 18 to 49 year-olds.
Yet the show is liked by critics and — I have always heard — internally at NBC, and its audience loves it. Also, though NBC improved its lot this year, the network still has holes, especially on Thursday nights. Thus the renewal. But for a shortened season.
Nevertheless, fans of family dramas have suffered worse fates, such as the unexpected massacre of Brothers & Sisters of 2011. Today, we are all Bravermans.