WARNING: This post contains spoilers for the fourth season.
NBC's Parenthood laid out a game changer in the second episode of the fourth season to Adam (Peter Krause) and Kristina (Monica Potter). As the couple is dealing with Haddie (Sarah Ramos) heading off to college, a new problem confronts them.
"My wife went through it a couple years ago and it's a story that I've been, in the back of my mind, wanting to tell," showrunner Jason Katimstells said. "We ultimately decided this was a story we could tell in a unique way and that it would be something that would be a very emotional and poignant story with many positive moments, too."
It was actually Potter who suggested the storyline, after her first-ever mammogram.
"I had to go for a mammogram -- my first mammogram ever -- and It was really scary and I didn’t know what to expect," Potter said. "I reached out to Jason and said, 'I got a little scare. I think I'm fine but what if we talked about Kristina having breast cancer?' I e-mailed him and within the hour, he e-mailed me back and said, 'I have the chills as we just broke that story for Kristina for this season.'
"It was crazy because his wife, Kathy, actually went through breast cancer and they have a knowledge of the disease and all these resources," she added. "It's a very common thing nowadays; a lot of women have it and a lot of women are going through it and coming out OK but I thought it was interesting and really timely to kind of have that story."
The breast cancer storyline is expected to run throughout the entire fourth season and will impact the entire Braverman family. Haddie will travel between home and college as she attempts to be there for her mother as best she can.
"Suddenly you're confronted with your mortality or the immortality of a loved one and you have to face that," Katims says. "We were really adamant about telling the story in a very real way, including the joyful, silly moments and the times when you're not giving in to your emotions about it. We are exploring the story in a way that is very human and real, taking it very seriously but at the same time, Kristina really needs to be brave for her children. This isn't just going to be them sitting around feeling sorry for themselves."
Parenthood airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST on NBC.