Parenthood – Season 6: PART 1

lg_parenthood_s5_promo_life

As you all know, I haven’t been reviewing Parenthood on a week to week basis like I’ve done in past years. While I of course spend every Thursday night crying and laughing at 10pm EST with our favorite TV family, I obviously haven’t felt the need (or found the time) to put my Braverman opinions into words. Now that it’s on hiatus until NBC airs Parenthood’s final four episodes in January, I’d like to take a step back and look at what Jason Katims and his team have given us thus far. I’ll discuss both the ups and the downs of what is clearly leading to a tearful good-bye.

ADAM/KRISTINA/MAX

Ever since season 4 and Kristina’s cancer scare, these characters’ story have gone downhill. From last season’s mayoral run to this terribly executed school for Max (that is clearly missing the headmaster I thought they had hired. Are there any employees other than Adam and Kristina?). Here are two people that were the emotional and moral centerpiece of the show and are no longer serving that purpose. Overall, I think what the writers are trying to do, create a situation where Max has to face pubescent adversity, is an excellent direction and perfect moment in time to explore. However, framed within the context of this wretched school (that reeeeeally is only for Max), has brought out a side of Kristina and Adam that doesn’t suit them. Their fight in front of everybody at open school night coupled with their mishandling of Max and his aggressive pursuit of Dylan haven’t emphasised their ability to handle things like adults or as teachers. However, I have enjoyed the portion of the this plot dealing with Dylan’s connection with Kristina as a surrogate parent and how that leads Max to interpret her feelings differently. The thing is that the harassment Max elicits is not okay and it all wasn’t solved (for me) with Max’s apology. There’s still a lot to be done to course correct these characters, but I’d be just as happy to let this one go and never revisit the school. And how about their convenient money troubles?

CROSBY/JASMINE

For a while I had no idea what was happening here. Crosby was serving as comic relief and Jasmine was the nagging bickering wife, etc and so forth. When we were served the motorcycle accident and injuries red herring, I was a totally lost as to what was happening in this corner of the Braverman ring. Why even try to fake us out with Crosby? I know we’re all anticipating losing a member of our Berkley clan by the show’s end, but this was just poorly written (and executed). A cheap shot at a loyal audience. On the flip side, I am liking how it filters into Crosby and Jasmine’s larger issues. With the Luncheonette failing to produce any income, the Braverman-Trussels are in a tough spot and it’s been Crosby acting out and hiding this info in a juvenile manner from his wife. When they’re working together, I like the Jasmine and Crosby dynamic, so I anticipate seeing more of that as the season enters its final stretch. The Braverman clan has always had moments of financial uncertainty. Zeek with his botched land deal, Adam losing his job with Cornell payments, and now Crosby and the Luncheonette, again, are clear examples of money problems that never truly get solved. They get dropped and forgotten. (They should have sold, of course.)  Hopefully this won’t happen again and there will be actual consequences. The Braverman bank accounts have never been a great story telling device for these writers.

SARAH/HANK/RUBY

I really, really love Ray Romano on this show. His presence has always been a welcome addition to the everyday lives of this family. That doesn’t mean that i’m going to want to spend my last couple of episodes exploring his family life. Early on in the season, I thought Sarah’s role in the life that she had chosen with Hank was a story worth telling. As it has strayed from that, with the exception of the wonderful scenes with Mr. Cyr, Sarah’s story has become lost amongst a family who’s drama I am not interested in, especially as I say good-bye to the Bravermans. Sarah is becoming lost to the Ruby drama, and I want her out in front of this as a viewer. There isn’t enough Amber/Sarah interaction for my liking.

AMBER/DREW

Nothing is better than an Amber-Zeek scene. From early on in the series, when he took her to the junkyard after her car accident, to this season when she told him that she was preggers, they always hit the emotional highs that this show can deliver so well when it’s on a roll. Zeek on the other hand, has put Drew in an unfair position in lying to Camille. He’s concerned, so of course he’s going to relay this all to Millie! His stress level has risen to an all time high now that he decided that his major should be economics. The sentiment (and obvious necessity) behind his need for money and stability is admirable, especially when you come from Sarah’s branch of the family tree. A nephew on the way and a lifetime of financial struggle will absolutely make you re-prioritize. When you’re also told by your uncle, who is in dire need of funds, to literally go for the gold, the thought process of a boy only seeing dollar signs is going to be majorly influenced. It sad to see him squandering a certain form of happiness for the support of others, but there’s still four more episodes to go.

JULIA/JOEL

As a person who has gone back and forth on whether this plotline is actually working, I would say that the current needle is leaning towards the “working” side. While I appreciated the conveyed messiness of feelings and unforgivable actions, I still think the show did a not-so-great job over the long haul of making it too much of Joel’s fault. They didn’t articulate, until the italian lunch scene, that the true unforgivable act they can’t surpass was Joel leaving–a questionable move when it first happened, as it was out of character. Julia did kiss and have too much of an emotional connection with Ed (that they FINALLY brought back up).  I thought that the conversations Joel, Julia, and even Chris have been involved in are raw, heartfelt, heartbreaking, and timely (if not too late). This helped me to be drawn back into their drama. Joel and Julia’s final kiss over the divorce documents really doesn’t bring any sort of final closure for me. I want to see what happens next because I just don’t believe that everything is solved if it’s been this long of a storyline. They made it messy and cleaning it up this nicely just doesn’t stay consistent with what we’ve been presented. Of course, most importantly in J&J’s life, HOW DO THEY CLAIM THAT SIDNEY IS NOT A LITTLE BRAT?! Just watch every Sidney episode…ever.

ZEEK/CAMILLE

When these two actors get the material they deserve, they knock it out of the ballpark. Millie’s frustration with Zeek, Zeek’s frustrations with himself, and watching Kristina help him back to his feet are all highlights of this season. The ultimate moment has to be just before his episode ending heart trouble when the two fall in love all over again over the French bed & breakfast. (Also, am I the only one that believes she is that good with her iPad? She did Skype with Zeek from Italy for a few months.) I have to say, if Zeek is a red herring and somebody else unexpectedly kicks the TV bucket, I’ll be a little disappointed in the writers. There is something to be said about how a family deals with the death of the patriarch and semi-knowing that something tragic is coming. Seeing Adam step up into the main family role and Amber naming her baby Zeek (I mean, come on–of course that will happen) could be a fitting end to these six seasons–if too predictable.

Other thoughts:

  • I could also see Kristina’s cancer coming back. Would that devastate me completely? Yes, regardless of my feelings toward their current school situation.
  • I like the Haddie references here and there.
  • To save money, Parenthood (and NBC) haven’t included all the characters in every episode. Almost every episode this season has been a random selection of story lines per Thursday–ala carte characters. I personally haven’t enjoyed this, as it’s been hit or miss with the revolving plots. It messes with the flow of the season and makes some hours feel so–empty.

As much as I love these people, I’m ready to say good-bye in January.

Keep on Watchin’

-Bryan