Parenthood 5×02 Like Father like Children

After hitting the ground running with a jam-packed premiere, All Aboard Who’s Coming Aboard felt a little slow. It was still quality Braverman time, but it didn’t pack quite as much of a punch. Additionally, for a show that usually hits homeruns in the realism department, there were several moments this week that had me raising my eyebrows.

Possibly the best answer for at least some of the strange moments starts at the top, with Zeek. We see this week another reminder of his stubborness and how his desire to keep things the same lead to his refusal to make the improvements necessary on the house. However, when Camille suggests that they sell the house and move into a condo, he doesn’t exactly jump at the idea either. It’s hard to imagine Parenthood without that magnificently lit backyard for dinner parties, but there is some sense in what Camille says, so I suppose it could go either way.
Following in his father’s stubborn ways is Crosby, who tries to do something nice for his elder son by taking the family out to Jabbar’s favorite place for dinner, but the results are disastrous. Aida won’t stop crying and Jasmine can’t get her to eat and the other patrons at the restaurant aren’t happy with them at all. Eventually the manager asks them to leave and Crosby flies off the handle at the other parents in the place, feeling like there should be some unwritten rule of kinship between people who have gone through child rearing. I couldn’t help but wonder why Crosby didn’t just take Jabbar out alone, so they could have some quiet time and allow Jabbar to feel some attention. But, once that didn’t happen, it also seemed surprising to me that Jasmine wasn’t pushing to leave even before they were asked to. It may have been unpleasant for the other diners, but no one could have been more miserable in that scenario than Jasmine. Ultimately, the point made was that there are a lot of ways in which the life Crosby knew is changing, and it is different than the changes that occurred when Jabbar showed up, already relatively self-sufficient.

Perhaps the hardest moment to swallow happened with Julia while dropping her kids off at school. Another parent who she did not know asked her to please watch his kids for a moment so he could run back to the car and grab their lunches, which he forgot. Parenthood is not usually this contrived with their storytelling and this just felt so far-fetched. The kids were clearly old enough to wait a few moments for their father without supervision (they were at their school, not the mall). And I know this is nitpicking, but Crosby couldn’t have signed Julia up for something less awful than “sustainability”? Anyway, the whole situation was set up so that Julia and Ed (The Office’s David Denman) would wind up spending afternoons together in the cafeteria. We see a little bit of Zeek’s pride come out in Julia here as she lies about her current unemployment, even after Ed admitted to being laid off. Last week I was concerned that Joel’s new boss, Pete, was going to drive a wedge between Julia and Joel, but maybe it’s Ed who is going to be the problem? Or both?

Amber and Ryan made their big announcement about their engagement to the family (after “wrestling” in the car outside the house). The reaction is overwhelmingly positive and even Zeek doesn’t seem to falter after being the wary one when the relationship began. Sarah is initially very skeptical and concerned and attempts to at least get Amber to see that the spontaneity may not be such a good thing. She doesn’t push too hard for fear of pushing her away, and only acknowledges her real worries when Hank comes to visit her. A talk with Adam, however, convinces her that the best thing she can do is be supportive – they aren’t Sarah and Seth after all. Sarah, trying to be as unlike Zeek as she can in this instance, takes Adam’s advice. She visits Amber with bridal magazines and assures her that as long as she’s happy, and is sure that Ryan is who she wants to spend the rest of her life with, then Sarah is behind her and ready to help her plan the wedding of her dreams. I appreciate this approach and think it’s probably wise not to push too hard in the opposite direction, but given Ryan’s history and his sometimes-volatile nature, I don’t think she’s wrong to worry. I was surprised at how nonchalant Adam was about the whole thing. As a TV viewer, it is passionate and romantic and feels incredible – and the Mae Whitman/Matt Lauria chemistry is perfection – but as a real scenario, I would think it would be a bit troubling to all.

And finally, Kristina’s campaign for Mayor continues. She now has hired a campaign manager (or had one appoint herself mid-interview when she realized how much help Kristina needed). Heather Hill (Jurnee Smolett-Bell, yes!) is no-nonsense and jumps in right away prepping Adam for a life in the spotlight and making sure he has no skeletons to hide. Adam is feeling like this is all a waste of time and, not-so-wisely, makes those feelings known to Heather. Heather alerts Kristina to Adam’s position which leads to a confrontation between the spouses. It feels like they have done a total 180 from when Adam wanted to take Kristina to Hawaii to celebrate her cancer-free-ness and Kristina felt like he was rushing her. Granted, at that point she still had a PET scan coming up, but still, it was Adam who wanted to believe things were going to be okay and Kristina who felt like they needed to be more cautious. Now, Adam is asking her to slow down and remember that though she is cancer free now, she should be taking it easy. Kristina, on the other hand, thinks this is exactly the point. She didn’t die, so she wants to make sure use her second chance to really live. Personally, it feels rushed. I get that she is afraid to waste any more time, but jumping in with Bob Little and getting to run the education for the city seemed like the right first step to get back into things gradually. This all feels a bit intense and I worry that it’s too much too soon.

Favorite moments:

Max taking photographs of Amber and Ryan fooling around in the car because he thought their wrestling was interesting. “I almost won,” Amber says.

Hank visiting Sarah to check on her after hearing about Amber’s engagement (and bring her a housewarming gift.) I really like these two.

Adam oversharing information about streaking in high school with Heather.

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