So here’s a show that I hadn’t fully invested in in previous seasons. With the number of shows I watch, some just naturally fall by the wayside, and this was one of them. However, with all the critical acclaim it has been getting, along with the sporadic episodes I watched in the last two seasons, I decided I wanted to watch Parenthood a bit more closely.
So, with this huge ensemble, there are approximately 5,000 plotlines, and there is no way I can hit all the beats, or tell them in remotely the correct order, so keep that in mind as this recap goes on.
We start with the all-American family, with Adam and Christina, with their kids Hattie, Max, and the baby. Hattie is about to head off to Cornell, and her parents have scheduled her last week in town full to the brim, which Hattie is less than pleased about. There’s lots of arguing, and the cross-talk that this show is famous for. There was a really sweet scene, where Hattie gave Max a weighted blanket, though their portrayal of Max’s Aspberger’s is feeling a bit…off. The scene where he was looking for his missing lizard was just weird. Though, what we see with one of the other groups may explain the family reaction a bit. Anyway, fight fight fight, “Fine, maybe I won’t go to the family portrait!” “Fine!”, and then reconciliation at the portrait/farwell party. The parents and Hattie make it to the airport, there are tears, and Hattie is off to college.
Next, we have Julia and Joel, with their daughter Savannah, and their newly adopted eight or nine year old, Victor. Their plot wasn’t huge, and mainly revolved around fitting Victor in to the family. What I said about the family reaction comes in to play here. Julia is more concerned about making sure Victor is ‘happy’ and feeling loved that she doesn’t take into consideration his need for structure and discipline, for correction when he has done something wrong. It felt similar to how Adam and Christina treat Max. “Oh, he’s just going through a phase/needs to adjust” or whatever, not understanding the kid needs or even craves the structure they are clearly not getting. Their plot ended with Julia wondering why it felt like she was waiting to love her son.
Next up is Sarah, with her fiancée Mark, and two kids Amber and Drew. Sarah had the big plot this evening, with her search for a job. The photographer(played by Ray Romano, and who they gave a name, but I’m just gonna call Ray) of the titular family portrait is looking for an assistant, and Sarah brazenly lies about her qualifications. And as happens when you make crap up, she failed miserably at her trial photo shoot, except the part where she hob-knobbed with the clients with the best of them. Ray, the curmudgeon that he is, fired her, but after the Braverman family portrait, they had a talk. Turns out, Ray fails at hob-knobbing, so if Sarah wants a job, learn about cameras, dammit. Oh, and she could have the job back. Mark’s whole plot was trying to get into the family portrait even though he wasn’t officially family yet. Spoiler: they let him in. Drew is trying to bulk up for his girlfriend in abstensia, so their inevitable breakup was telegraphed a mile away, even before NBC blabbed in the promo for next week. Finally, Amber is seeing skeevy musician guy who has a serious girlfriend, so apparently, Amber is the ‘on the side.’ We then find out she’s totally cool with it, which makes my ambivalence to her as a character grow even more defined.
Lastly, we had Crosby, Jasmine and Jabbar, who’s entire plot consisted of hemming and hawing over religion. It was kind of lame, and this show seems to be going the way of the cop out. “Oh, we’ll just let them decide for themselves,” as if that takes away their responsibility. I mean, seriously: how is a child supposed to even know their options if no one is telling them their options? Or put another way: how do you suppose they would have reacted if Jabbar were to espouse right-wing political views? How ‘open-minded’ do you suppose they would be then?
So, pretty good season opener! There were lots of plotlines started, and the way the plots wove together was pretty great as well.