Parenthood‘s Sarah and Mark (played by Lauren Graham and Jason Ritter) seem like the perfect, happy couple, so naturally, the show’s writers plan to send them through a romantic obstacle course, of sorts. In tonight’s episode (airing on NBC at 10/9c), Mark will face a lot of Bravermans, but the biggest challenge comes from someone outside the family.
TVLine caught up with Lauren Graham and Jason Ritter to talk about their characters’ romance, the challenges Sarah’s ex Seth (John Corbett) poses, and some extra treats for fans of Gilmore Girls and The Event.
TVLINE | What’s going on in Tuesday night’s episode? Jason, there are some pictures of your character out with all the ladies.
LAUREN GRAHAM | [Mark] gets introduced to the family at a big party that my brothers are having to launch their music studio. That’s a sweet part of this week’s show – that I’m all excited for him to meet my family. He’s not, like, partying with the ladies. [Laughs]
TVLINE | How does the family accept Mark? And what does he think of them?
JASON RITTER | I love them. And they’ve all been very accepting of me up to now.
GRAHAM | They’re happy for Sarah to be happy finally.
TVLINE | Seth has been stirring up a lot of drama in Sarah’s life recently. How does that affect Mark and Sarah’s relationship going forward?
RITTER | It’s tough. Exes are a very difficult part of any relationship. They’re harder to deal with than some new person that someone might be attracted to or not; there’s no history there, no old love there. So it’s difficult, especially because here’s someone who’s having a real problem with alcohol and now they’ve decided to get sober. So they’re returning to the person that they were when…
GRAHAM | We were connected.
RITTER | Exactly.
TVLINE | Is it going to strengthen Mark and Sarah’s relationship, as a result, or uncover some weaknesses in it?
GRAHAM | Both of those probably.
RITTER | Any time there’s any kind of pressure on anything, it changes it. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes for the worse. Sometimes for the medium between those two. [Graham laughs]
TVLINE | Does Sarah have romantic feelings for Seth?
GRAHAM | It’s confusing. I’m not sure she’s sure. There’s a lot in not having had him healthy for so much of the marriage. I think there’s a fantasy, for her kids, wishing that their father was in the picture. And maybe that spills over a little bit into some feelings for him. I’m not sure she knows exactly what it is.
TVLINE | Mark’s been really understanding and calm about everything so far. Is he going to lose his cool soon?
RITTER | He does start standing up for himself a little bit more. He’s always been at least clear with her about what makes him uncomfortable and what he’s not excited about. She at least knows that he’s trying. He just really loves her a lot. He loves her that much, so he’s trying as hard as he can. He’s not going to throw away a whole relationship because it’s difficult. It’s tough for him, but…
GRAHAM | Or are you going to punch [Seth]? [Laughs]
RITTER | I would love to get one good clock in there and then run fast. [Laughs] You get to see the true mettle of a person when they’re challenged like that.
TVLINE | Jason, how long are you around for this season?
RITTER | Neither of us know. I’m happy to say it’s already been longer than I initially thought. That’s really, really nice. They’re giving our relationship an opportunity to get into more complicated areas, instead of just having to break it off because it gets weird and complicated.
TVLINE | Lauren, does it give you some anxiety knowing that Jason’s gig is probably temporary and Sarah’s likely going to have her heart broken?
GRAHAM | It does give me some anxiety because at this point, I’m so invested in this character, I personally don’t want to start over. And I’m not sure how they would split us up because it is so positive. Your guess is as good as mine.
TVLINE | Jason, at what point should fans move on from the idea of an Event reunion movie or miniseries?
GRAHAM | At the same point that the Gilmore Girls people should – never!
RITTER | [Laughs] That is still a possibility. When I hear for sure that it’s not happening, I will let it go myself, and I will spread the word to let it go. But until then… Every time I’ve started to feel like it’s not going to happen, I get a little email from one of the producers of it, saying, “We’re still working on it, so don’t give up.”