Behind the Scenes: Parenthood

Earlier this week, I spent my morning on the set of the TV show Parenthood.

Here’s the quick back story of how it all happened:

During season 4 of Parenthood, Kristina was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wrote a few blog posts about how I felt the show dealt with the storyline. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when a blogging friend tells me she met Parenthood’s Executive Producer, Jason Katims, at the recent Dad 2.0 conference. She casually drops a bomb and tells me she mentioned my blog to him during their meet and greet.

Um, what?

YES! HOLY SHIT!! I was ecstatic. The mere thought that the incredible Jason Katims could possibly know about my little space on the internet is just too much for me to handle. Of course, I took this news to Facebook and what came out of it was a day spent watching Peter Krause, Dax Sheppard and Craig T. Nelson film scenes from Parenthood’s season 5 finale episode.


A family friend, who knows all the right people, generously offered to set up a visit to the Parenthood set at Universal Studios. We drove to the very back of the lot, passing stage after stage with huge billboards for Parks and Recreation, Community, and PARENTHOOD!


Parenthood Call Sheet

We were taken through the doors of stage 44 where Bonnie Bedelia and Ericka Christensen were filming a scene that takes place in the Braverman home. You know the one Camille and Zeek are considering selling? Yeah, that one. The set was massive. Almost the size of a real house but without a roof and stairs that lead to no where. We passed a stack of mattresses – and I wondered what those were for – as we climbed the stairs to meet Executive Producer Lawrence Trilling (Alias, Felicity). We’ll revisit the mattresses after the finale airs – no spoilers!


Exec Producer Larry Trilling and the Parenthood Script Supervisor

We sat in producer chairs and watched as cameras rolled. “Ericka, Ericka, Ericka” one guy whispered into a mic to cue the actor to enter the shot. The script supervisor watched and listened closely to the scene. They took several takes and once they were done, we got to meet Ericka Christensen who plays Julia. She was lovely and I looked closely for a wedding ring which might give me some clue on what to expect from the Joel and Julia storyline. No spoilers!

We then got to tour several of the other Parenthood sets, including Adam and Kristina’s home, Jasmine and Crosby’s house, Amber’s apartment, Sarah’s apartment, Drew’s dorm room and community bathroom, and the Luncheonette! The crew was breaking down one of the sets which was a huge spoiler that I won’t share here because no spoilers!


From Adam and Kristina’s bedroom. Out of the shot were about 50 people on the Universal Studios VIP back lot set tour also checking out the set.


Upstairs hallway of Adam and Kristina’s house on the Parenthood set.


Sarah’s apartment door.


Sarah’s desk inside her apartment.


The awesome sliding door to Amber’s apartment.


Outside Jabbar’s bedroom in Crosby and Jasmine’s home.


The Luncheonette! Have you seen the webisodes? Google that.


Yep. That’s me inside Crosby’s recording booth.

We finished touring the sets and headed back to stage 44 to watch another scene. I just had so much fun watching from behind the scenes of how this show comes together.


Outside the Stage 44 door. The red light means they were filming.

While lighting was adjusted for the next scene, Larry turned and asked what I like most about Parenthood. I fumbled around for an answer but told him it was the storytelling above all that keeps me invested. The show is so spot on. If you aren’t watching Parenthood, I suggest you download it and start binge watching it now.


Larry Trilling watching Craig T. Nelson in the Parenthood finale.

Want to see more photos from the Parenthood set? Check out the photo album on my Facebook page!


  1. I love that you got to do this. And I’m DYING to see how the season ends.

  2. I cried my eyes out when I finally watched last week’s episode so I’m scouring these photos for some CLUES. Can’t wait for the season finale. Come home Joel!

  3. This is so cool! What a fun day

  4. I am SO amazed by this. How incredible that you got to see the thing that you’ve spent SO much time writing about!!! You totally deserve this!!! So when do you get to guest spot on the show 😉 ???

  5. Wow! Such a fun experience. I’ve watched it on occasion only because I can’t commit myself to watching when it’s actually on. But last week I started from the beginning… And I might be binge watching.

  6. Omg!!! Is it ok to be a little bit jealous, because I totally am!

    This post is seriously making me miss my old theatre days. Sets, lighting, scripts, and the make-up. I was the stage-makeup person, back in the day 😉

    I can’t even imagine how excited you were to actually be ON SET! Ahh!!

    I’m doing cartwheels for you 🙂

  7. I had no idea you were doing this – so cool! I’ve never caught an episode, but I know how much you dig it so I bet it was a BLAST!

  8. Favorite photo? You in the sound booth. Totally awesome!

  9. Amanda T. says:

    So happy for you!!!!!!!!

  10. So excited for you … and jealous!! Can’t wait to see how things unfold this season!!! Loved see the pics of you in the set!

  11. Sounds like you had gooood time 🙂 That is wonderful. I’ve not caught this show so will have to check it out now. 🙂

  12. This is all kinds of awesome! I have binged watched “Parenthood” over the last year and I’m totally hooked. Like you said, it keeps me coming back for more… rich and likeable characters, engaging storyline and smart writing. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  13. That is SO COOL! I started watching the first couple of seasons then lost the extra time and stopped. But, I went back recently and binge watched/caught up and I’m invested ALL over again!

  14. I love that show! Parenthood is like a real version of life only with that awesome guy from Coach. right? I am having mommy brain. My son is working on a show right now, so all things in the industry interest me and scare the heck out of me.
    Love your blog and glad i found you. I am going to read through your journey, I would imagine it is written in some of the pages here.
    I have a partial mastectomy in October, jeepers, just thinking of it still I get weepy. I won’t go into the funky details, but I am hoping this operation stuck and I won’t ever have to go back. Glad to meet you, Pam aka Momma from those scary clutter challenges. lol

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Hey Pam! Let’s talk surgeries. I want to hear all the details.
      And girl… I’m so doing your clutter challenges!!

      • Well, long story short. I had a couple of tumors removed two years ago and discovered they are this weird from that grow back like a wart. So, I knew I need to get John in school mode and put off my check up and the new cluster came back but much faster at the surface tissue of my breast. Second surgery, went okay, but discovered I have no tolerance for antibiotics. I got really, really sick, really watch anything that goes into my mouth these days meds and food are carefully monitored. 8 Months later the damn thing came back and I put off the testing again because of my “busy” life and waiting too long. The tumor was so infected that I really could not feel anything ( the look on the doctor’s face when she saw it scared the shit out of me) at all and they were concerned that it could come back with malignant the next time so they decided to take more of what I considered me. I still have not looked at the scar and I am still at the early stages so it might come back. But I hope not. I have been ill on and off because of the tumors and infections for so long. I just want to get healthy so I can help get rid of anything with the word C in it for as long as I can. I have gotten lucky so far, well lucky in a sense that I have not had to go through what all the women I meant in the hospital where going through. I was given three extra chances… so I am no longer putting those check-ups off because I have really been warned.

        • lord, I never did learn the technical terms of any of the above… I was always to scared. The doctor had a name for the tumors but for the life of me I cannot remember. When she told me it comes back I felt as if I would never have a real quality of a life again, ever.

        • wendy nielsen says:

          That is CRAZY! Yes, you gotta stay on top of it!! No excuses.

  15. I bow down. What an incredible experience on one of the BEST shows on TV. The writing, the cast, it’s all dreamy and I LOVE The Braverman House. I hope that isn’t the set they were ripping down. That outside patio, where they have their big family meals is straight out of a mother’s dream. Love the shots you took. What a hoot!
    I can hear your giggle in the one of you sitting on the bed. Absolutely, brilliant.

    So, when are we going to the set of “Once Upon a Time”? Kidding. Not kidding.

  16. How cool! I’ve watched this show “from the beginning” and love it. What a wonderful experience. Who was your favorite actor?

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Hi Kay! I only got to meet Erika Christensen and she was lovely. But hands down, my favorite is Peter Krause. He’s adorably wonderful. And I’ll always have a spot in my heart for Lauren Graham because I loved Gilmore Girls! How about you?

      • When the series started Peter Krause was my favorite because I loved him on Six Feet Under. Dax Sheppard has won me over throughout the years.

        • wendy nielsen says:

          I totally agree. I remember Dax being on that show Punk’d and didn’t really take him seriously as an “actor” when he started on Parenthood. But, I LOVE HIM. He is just so awesome.

  17. What a great experience and it couldn’t happen to a nicer and more deserving person!

    I will say that I love this show and now I’m going backwards and watching FNL.

    Love that there’s crossover between the 2 shows.

    Loved your shot in The Luncheonette.


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