The 29-year-old actress, who plays straitlaced lawyer Julia Braverman-Graham on the NBC drama, has three brothers and a sister-in-law and intimately understands the complicated dynamics that come with growing up in a big family.
"To me, it just feels kind of comfortable, this group that inherently has ties that won't really break," she told AOL TV in advance of 'Parenthood''s third season premiere (Tue., Sept. 13, 10PM ET on NBC). "The underlying love is really nice because you know if you have a spat, it doesn't matter. I feel the same way about the characters and the actors [on 'Parenthood'] -- we all know we're in it for the long haul, so any differences we may have, we know that we're going to get through them somehow. You just have to."
Actually, Christensen and her costars are close both literally and figuratively -- many of them live within two miles of one another, and she's known Dax Shepard, who plays her brother Crosby, for a decade.
Below, Christensen shares with AOL TV what those crazy Braverman dinners are actually like, which guest star the 'Parenthood' cast is most excited to welcome back and what's in store for Julia and her husband, Joel, as they attempt to adopt a baby.
[Warning: Spoiler alert.]
After their son goes to bed, Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Jasmine (Joy Bryant) sneak downstairs to chomp on their kid's Halloween candy. They're still wearing their costumes: Crosby is daring stuntman Evel Knievel; Jasmine is Indian maiden Pocahontas.
The pair seems content, like they've recovered from their past history. Jasmine had a son with Crosby, but she kept this a secret for five years. She felt that Crosby was irresponsible and not ready for fatherhood. But now, the couple are back together again.
Well, I'm totally with Adam on this one. Sure, Haddie could wear the bra -- there's no crime in a girl wanting to feel pretty -- but I wouldn't let her leave the house with her shirt hanging off her shoulder and her bra strap showing. It's not a double standard! Drew didn't have half his underwear showing!
Besides that, Haddie and her boyfriend were making out on his bed (without her bra on, since she took it off in anger before leaving the house!). And, hello?!! Parents shouldn't let teens be alone in a bedroom with the door closed. Ok, I feel slightly better now.
First of all, a big Woot! that 'Parenthood' was picked up for a second season. That's awesome! And second, many thanks to Danny Gallagher for allowing me to take over the reviews on this show. Not only do I love it, but my daughter does, too, so it's always fun to watch stuff together.
(S01E07) "Would you boys like to come over for a play date?" - Yoga girl to Crosby
I love 'Parenthood.' Yes, there's a lot of people to keep track of, but it's all good. The show has some great players, but really, all I need is Peter Krause and Lauren Graham. And Dax Shepard and Jason Ritter. He reminds me of his dad, which makes me both happy and sad, but mostly happy.
The kids on this show are awesome, too -- Max Burkholder, Mae Whitman, Tyree Brown ... ok, since I'm filling in for Danny, I'll stop crushing on all the actors and get to the review. Follow me after the jump.
(S01E06) "Wow, Crosby, you're a dad." - Zeek, after hearing about Crosby's son for the first time
I'll admit it. 'Parenthood' has been a hard show to read. It tries very hard to connect the audience with the human drama of the American family, but at the same time, it expects you to understand and appreciate every problem they come across.
It drags you through their cornfield of sadness and expects you to come out feeling as happy and reserved as the characters do in the end. It makes me wish life actually worked this way. Then it just makes me angrier.
It's quite the opposite.
The seams are really starting to show as the episodes try to stretch across an entire season. It now feels so unbelievable because of the lackluster characters and dialogue that I'm starting to feel just as bored as the people look on the screen.
Yes, that's right, Ron Howard, the executive producer of 'Parenthood,' did a handful of shout-outs to the media and we were included. Aren't we special?
The one-hour dramedy, from the creative dream team of writer/producer Jason Katims ('Friday Night Lights') and producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer ('Arrested Development') will debut in a post-'Chuck' slot on Monday, March 1 at 9PM (this is after both the 'Heroes' season finale on Feb. 8 and the Winter Olympics have aired).
(S02E01) "Oh, your husband likes unprotected sex with hookers, so it might be a good time to get yourself tested for, you know, everything really." - Cal
Lies! Lies! Lies! Or are they? With the return of Lie to Me comes a whole new batch of poker faces for The Lightman Group to interpret and fortunately for us, the overall vibe of the show is a lot more believable than it used to be. If I'm going to watch a show where the lynch-pin of every episode rests on the ability of Tim Roth's Dr. Cal Lightman to negotiate all the little twists a suspect's face makes, then I better not be able to figure it out myself in the first five minutes. When I recently spoke with Roth, he said the show was a lot better now. He wasn't lying.
NBC seems to be sending out their screeners in dribs and drabs, so I'm making my way through their fall offerings very slowly. I've already given you previews of both Community and Trauma, and now we've got Parenthood, a new series based on a movie that was already turned into a series nearly twenty years ago. Who says Hollywood is out of ideas?
Parenthood is basically a less-melodramatic Brothers & Sisters. It follows the Braverman clan, a family in Fresno made up of four siblings: Adam (Peter Krause), Crosby (Dax Shepard), Sarah (Maura Tierney), and Julia (Erika Christensen), along with their children and parents, played by Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia. They all have their share of drama, but at the end of the day, they're all brought together in the most suburban of pursuits: Little League. Say it with me now: "awwww."
Also in the news: 'Oprah''s ratings are down, while Jennie Garth and Brooke Burns book roles on two CW remakes.
See more of today's top TV headlines after the jump.
(S01E01) This, by far, is the most disappointing new show of the season.
And it pains me to say that, because I like J.J. Abrams and I like stories with lots of characters set in New York City, but this show starts with a concept that turns out to be pretty damn bogus to start with and then does nothing with it.
Here's what's wrong with it.
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