‘Parenthood’ Creator Jason Katims Tells How His Son on the Autism Spectrum Inspired the Show During Cast Reunion

Jason Katims said he included “almost autobiographical elements” in his hit NBC series Parenthood, which ran for six seasons from 2010 to 2015 on NBC

More than 12 years after it premiered, Parenthood is still resonating with audiences.

Parenthood creator Jason Katims reunited with stars Dax Shepard, Erika Christensen, Joy Bryant, Monica Potter, and executive producer Lawrence Trilling on Friday for a reunion panel at ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas.

He opened up about the show’s very real-life influences during the panel, including an early plot point that was inspired by his son Sawyer, who is on the autism spectrum.

“When I wrote the pilot story, a big breakthrough moment for me, or a big moment of truth for me, was doing the Max (Max Braverman) storyline,” he told the audience. “At the time I was writing the pilot, my son, who is on the spectrum, was almost the same age as Max was.”

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“In the pilot episode, or the first couple of episodes, there’s a storyline where he gets asked to leave the school that he is in — this literally happened to me, concurrently, with writing the script. And I was really on the verge of taking that story out of the pilot and out of the show. I thought maybe this is too personal and not right to tell the story. I took it out for a while and got encouraged to put it back,” Katims shared.

'Parenthood' Creator Jason Katims Tells How His Son on the Autism Spectrum Inspired the Show During Cast Reunion

Katims also explained that the show evolved to include more “almost autobiographical elements” of his own life, as well as those of the show’s writers and actors.

“I think that to me is really the storyline that set the path for the entire show,” he noted. “That there was something brave about telling that story at a time when there were no characters with autism on broadcast television and there were certainly no series regulars.”

“I wanted to do with every storyline what I was doing with that storyline, which was to try to dig deep, make it as real as possible,” said Katims.

Parenthood ran for six seasons on NBC from 2010 to 2015, exploring the lives of the extended Braverman family.

Loosely based on the 1989 Steve Martin movie of the same name, the show also starred Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Mae Whitman, Miles Heizer, Sarah Ramos, Sam Jaeger, Craig T. Nelson, and Bonnie Bedelia.

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