'Parenthood's Max Burkholder Deserves an Emmy Nomination & Here's Why
TV fans, it's about that time of year: Emmy nominations, otherwise as known as when all the actors you love and think deserve recognition get totally ignored. While the Emmys aren't the only awards show to have a history of snubs, for some reason, seeing great TV actors get overlooked hurts more than with movies. Perhaps it's because we've spent an entire year with them, not just a few hours, or maybe it's just because TV feels more personal. Whatever the reason, seeing your favorite actors get snubbed for nominations is hard, no matter if you're used to it happening (Friday. Night. Lights) or if you think you're prepared (Game of Thrones, anyone?). Nothing hurts quite as much, though, as seeing an actor get snubbed when you knew it was coming, but still held out hope that he/she had a shot — such as when, year after year, Max Burkholder of Parenthood gets ignored by the Emmys.
Although one can argue that all of Parenthood's talented ensemble deserves to get more recognition, it's Burkholder's snubs that sting the most. The 16-year-old actor gives an outstanding performance in every episode, and yet even when the show gets a rare piece of awards show acclaim, he's hardly ever the recipient. Even Jason Katims, the series' creator, has lamented the snubs; despite the consistently high quality of his acting, Burkholder seems bound to be ignored for as long as the series is on the air.
This year, though, we're hopeful that things might change. Although a nomination is certainly still a long shot, Burkholder's performance this past season was the best it's ever been. Episode after episode, the actor perfectly played Max's complicated range of emotions, from his fear at being bullied to his complete indifference at his sister's coming out. In a cast as wonderful as Parenthood's, Burkholder stood out — and it'd be a real shame, albeit an expected one, if the Emmys overlooked it that fact. Three reasons he deserves a nomination:
He's Earned It Since the Beginning
One of the best and worst things about Parenthood has been watching its child actors grow up; for every Drew, who's morphed from a shy pre-teen to a lovable college kid, there's a Sydney, whose adorable toddlerhood unfortunately gave way to childhood brattiness (not that we blame the actress for that; as hard as it is to believe, the writers chose to make Sydney that annoying). No one on the show, though, has been as much of a pleasure to see mature as Max, and, subsequently, Burkholder. From the very first episode, in which the groundwork was laid for his complicated storyline to come, the actor's tremendous talent was clear. In the years since, he's dealt with handling his Asberger's, running for Student Council (above), dealing with his mother's cancer, and, recently, being bullied by his classmates. Throughout everything, he's been wonderful. Parenthood is a cast of truly talented individuals, and Burkholder is one of its very best.
He Doesn't Have Asberger's, But Gives A Voice to Those Who Do
Much of Parenthood's acclaim comes from its devotion to realism, especially the ways in which it portrays Max's Asberger's Syndrome. Since the very first episode, the show has demonstrated what it's like to know, raise, and be a child on the autism spectrum, and it wouldn't have been nearly as effective without Burkholder's layered performance. He embodies Max's quirks and habits so believably that it's hard to believe he doesn't have Asberger's himself, but according to Jason Katims, the actor's realistic portrayal comes from books he's read, specialists he's consulted, and just some really great acting. Thanks to Burkholder, kids with Asberger's and the parents who raise them finally have someone representing them on-screen, and it's just an added bonus that he does it so well.
He Can Make Us Cry Harder Than Any of the Bravermans
Oh my god, that scene. By now, five seasons in, Parenthood fans know that it's unwise to sit down for an episode without a box of tissues nearby, yet when Max cried to his parents about being bullied by his classmates in the back of that car earlier this year, no one was prepared. Listening to a confused Max ask his parents why kids hate him, and then watching him struggle as his mom embraced him in a hug, was nearly too much to bear. Burkholder's performance in Parenthood has made us cry many, many times over the years, but it's never been as wonderfully, realistically soul-crushing as in Season 5's "The Offer."