'Parenthood': Lauren Graham, Erika Christensen on their characters' struggles

lauren-graham-erika-christensen-parenthood-320.jpgIf the first episode of "Parenthood" showed anything, it showed that this business of trying to raise children is no easy task.

So much so, in fact, that Lauren Graham, who plays single mom Sarah Braverman on the NBC series, hopes that she's not held up as a role model for real-life mothers.

"I don't necessarily want anyone to want to be me as a mom on this show," Graham says. "That's what I like about her is that she's really kind of doing things in a more haphazard way and isn't always noble and doesn't always make the right choice."

Graham and her TV sister, Erika Christensen -- whose character, Julia, has her own issues with motherhood -- talked separately with Zap2it about their characters' struggles and small wins and what to expect as the season moves along.

Where they're coming from

Graham: What I've really enjoyed ... is just finding the ways in which this character just continues to sort of feel like -- it's too strong to say, [bit] like a failure. But, you know, as opposed to maybe [her "Gilmore Girls" character] Lorelai Gilmore, who had a very sunny outlook on things, it's been really interesting for me to play someone who is kind of shouldering a lot of baggage in terms of being disappointed about where she is in life.

Christensen: [Julia] is very scheduled and in her own words even a control freak; she's very ambitious. I'm ambitious, but I'm super-easygoing. The example that always comes to mind is my former roommate, who's one of my best friends -- if it started to rain, she'd be like, "Oh my god, we have to get out of the rain, my shoes, my hair," and I'd be like, "Whoohoo!" ... Julia is the one who would want to get out of the rain. So I really enjoy letting her possess me and see how she feels about things. I think she's pretty funny.

Where they're going

Christensen:
The second and third episodes were kind of revelatory for me, because the writers decided to just find ways to embarrass Julia. It brought out more of her good-intentioned, ill-fated foot-in-mouth kind of manner. Which is interesting because she's extremely together at work, and you don't tend to see her at work. She's really good at what she does, and in that way she has a bit of a know-it-all sense about her. But when it comes to matters of the heart, she's not a know-it-all. She tries and fails at things, and it's pretty great.

Graham: Sarah is really struggling in her life and not in a great place and, you know, hasn't reached her potential in a lot of ways. ... The character I played in the past [was] sort of always winning in a way, and so this is someone who has much further to go to reach any of her dreams, and that was all appealing to me.

What's coming up

Christensen:
The big story [beginning with Tuesday's episode] is Julia's daughter [Savannah Paige Rae] and husband [Sam Jaeger] meet a fellow mom at school who kind of all the sudden encroaches on my territory with both of them. The actress is fantastic -- Erinn Hayes, she makes me laugh so much. As you can imagine, it's just a horrible situation to be in, to realize you're just losing your grasp on your family.

"Parenthood" airs at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday on NBC.

Follow Zap2it on Twitter and Facebook for the latest TV, movie and celebrity news.

Related:

'Parenthood' review: NBC's 10 p.m. comeback starts here

Photo credits: NBC
SHARE IT ON: