Parenthood Season 4 – Monica Potter and Executive Producer Jason Katims Discuss Cancer Storyline

Parenthood Season 4

If you’ve been a loyal fan to NBC’s Parenthood, you’ve probably been riveted to the newest and most heart-wrenching storyline yet involving Kristina Braverman’s battle with breast cancer. TV Equals was able to learn more about the storyline in a conference call with the show’s executive producer Jason Katims and actress Monica Potter, who portrays Kristina.

Real life informing drama

Katims talked about the struggle that occurred when it came to deciding whether to go through with telling this story that hits close to home for him.

“First there was the question of whether or not it was something we wanted to take on on the show,  and I struggled with that decision because I thought it was difficult subject matter [as well as] subject matter that could be challenging from the point of view of storytelling and sometimes to watch it,” said Katims. “And I had a similar thing when I was working on the pilot of the show, including the Asperger’s storyline, which is also very personal to me.”

His decision to tell the Asperger’s story through the character of Kristina and Adam’s [Peter Krause] son Max [Max Burkholder] gave him the ability to see how the storyline involving Kristina’s health could be successfully told. “[Telling Max's story] was incredibly gratifying and in a lot of ways, cathartic to do,” he said. “And that’s what gave me courage to approach this storyline. I just felt it was something that I went through with my wife and my family and I just felt it was the kind of storyline that Parenthood would be able to tell well.”

Potter’s own cancer experience

“I was on board,” said Potter when talking about what she initially thought of the storyline. “I actually emailed Jason over the summer; I went to my first mammogram in April and I…mentioned to my husband that it would be a great storyline. And knowing it touched Jason personally, I just reached out and [asked] what if we tried to do a storyline with Kristina and he emailed me right away and said…they had been working on that storyline already, which was kind of cool.”

Potter talked more about how her mammogram experience tied into Kristina’s storyline.  ”It actually came at a time when I had gone to get my mammogram..and [the doctors] said there was a blip on the screen and I have to go back,” she said. “[T]hose real feelings came out in my performance because I have to go again this Thursday to see if it is gone.”

How Potter is approaching the storyline

Potter’s own experiences are helping her convey Kristina’s feelings of finding out about her cancer for the first time. “As far as doing research and going online, I did nothing, only because I wanted to experience it as a person doing it for the first time,” she said, saying how feeling scared was very important to her performance. “I don’t want [the performance] to feel stale and I want it to feel real for me and hopefully that will come through in the performance.”

You can watch the continuation of the riveting storyline on Parenthood  Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC.