Season 1, Episode 11
Date of airing: May 11, 2010 (NBC)
Nielsen ratings information: 5.93 million viewers, 2.6/7 with A18-49
As usual, another pretty solid episode, with the usual stuff happening. Some funny stuff, some dramatic stuff, some emotions and tears, and some jokes. That’s what PARENTHOOD is defined by, and that’s what I love about this show. Sometimes it doesn’t take itself very seriously, but then there are moments and stories when the writers just want to tackle real-life situations, and where they don’t care whether it’s going too much on your guts or not. The whole drama around Steve (Asher Monroe) for example. I knew that it would keep Amber (Mae Whitman) and Haddie (Sarah Ramos) down on the floor, and I knew that it would keep both young women emotionally busy, and I also knew that the story was mostly going to be a big cliché, but I didn’t mind, because the emotional level of that story was perfect. I loved that Amber instantly realized she has made a mistake, and I loved that she needed a while (but not more than one episode) to tell Haddie the truth, and I loved (despite a few reservations towards it in the beginning) that Haddie was completely heartbroken about it. It’s just good drama, and that drama proves how easy it can be for the writers of a TV show to charm me over, to care about the characters, to make the stories count.
Well, the inclusion of Timm with two ‘M’ (Matthew Del Negro) wasn’t really my thing, but I loved the comedy aspect of it, and how it brought a little bit of background to Julia (Erika Christensen) and Joel (Sam Jaeger). Now that Julia almost had Racquel stealing Joel from her a few episodes ago, Joel had Timm almost stealing Julia from him ages ago. It seems like the writers were kinda hungry to give the near-perfect Graham couple a little more to do, otherwise they wouldn’t have overused Racquel (for nothing, btw) and they wouldn’t have used Timm with two ‘M’ here. Joel could have been a little more jealous for my taste though. His character depiction here was almost like he just hated Timm, while he completely trusted Julia for being Julia. But when another man is in the house, trying to flirt with your wife, I wouldn’t just be hating the motherfucker, I would also be jealous as fuck. But whatever, the “Timmmmmmmm” running gag was funny, especially when Sydney (Savannah Paige Rae) was bringing that one near the end. What was Julia thinking when even Sydney knew the running gag of Julia’s former (high school) lover? To the second part of the story: I can’t really understand why Julia was the only one focused on getting her father Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) out of financial trouble. Judging the last episode, I would have thought for all the siblings to do anything to get Zeek and Camille back together, but here it looked like fate was in Julia’s hands, and Julia’s hands also had to deal with the past lover. Also, now it looks like Zeek’s financial trouble was only used to bring Timm with two ‘M’ into the game, so that Joel can be an angry man. It’s storytelling from point A to point Z, and generally I like it (every action has reaction), but somehow, ending a potentially good story, which could have been the frontrunner for both Zeek and Camille, in a “Timmmmmmmm” running gag for Julia, Joel and Sydney seems off for me.
Seeing Adam (Peter Krause) and Zeek together was a little more entertaining. The father crashing his son’s and his family’s house, while behaving like he wants to rule the place like his own home, was hilarious every now and then. When Max (Max Burkholder) came into the living room to have his TV time, I just loved how confused and angry Zeek was about Max’s status in the house (“he rules the joint”). Also, the story had a nice outcome near the end, when Zeek realized what Adam really is going through. Zeek might be annoyed about how a little eight-year-old with crazy behavior outrules his basketball game on TV, but seeing Zeek seeing Adam caring for Max in his worst state of the day was just great. A typical father/son moment, but a nice one. I want more of those moments. What annoyed me a little was the disappearance of Max’s new pet. Maybe that story was a little too blown up for my taste. But the writers aren’t writing for me, right?
Sarah (Lauren Graham) worrying about her mother Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) was a little off for me as well. First of all, how the writers tried to force Sarah in finding out that Camille has a “thing” going on with her teacher seemed a little too brutal for me. As if there really was no room to give this story a playing time of more than just one episode. Though I must say I was quite happy when Camille realized right after the first date that she has done something wrong. If this story would have continued over to the season finale, it would have been a stereotypical development of a typical drama storyline about cheating, only it involved older people (for once). In addition, the story was simply written. At first, Sarah learns about Zeek’s affair, and shortly after, she has to witness how her mother is about to make the same mistake. It was a little too simple for my taste, but whatever.
And finally, once again, Crosby (Dax Shepard). At least he’s a happy guy for the time being. I found it interesting, once again, that he didn’t care much about what was going on between his parents, and instead focused on his relationship with Jasmine (Joy Bryant). And I’m asking here: Why not? Crosby is in the middle of changing his life around, and he wants to do it with the woman he thinks he loves. Of course he doesn’t give too much energy in thinking how much of a problem the “separation” of his parents are, and of course he simply hopes for them getting back together, because that’s what always happens in his point of view. It was probably the most interesting character arc in the episode, though I must say that I found it a little awkward that Crosby didn’t really think with the word “family” in mind, when he was houseshopping. Okay, he said the truth (“work in progress”), but when he really thought he would be moving into a house with Jasmine and Jabbar, he would have been a little more optimistic about it, instead of having reserved feelings. 7/10
Season 1, Episode 10
Date of airing: May 4, 2010 (NBC)
Nielsen ratings information: 5.88 million viewers, 2.5/7 with A18-49
Another pretty good episode. Almost all the stories were fine, and I love that the writers were putting more drama into the show. As if they realized the season finale was right around the corner, and some great and big shit had to happen, because for some reason the biggest and most interesting storylines always come at the end of a season – at least in network dramas. The only story I’ve got a tiny problem with was the triangle between Amber (Mae Whitman), Haddie (Sarah Ramos) and Steve (Asher Monroe). All of a sudden Amber gets thrown into the little relationship drama that is Haddie and Steve, and all of a sudden Amber is a love interest for Steve, which automatically means that Amber and Haddie will have a little bitch fight going on in the next episode. Yeah, I kinda like the setup to the Amber/Haddie story, because I already know what’s coming (and I already knew before I saw the next episode[s]), and it promises great drama between two characters of the third generation, but as a single story in this episode only… It’s a pretty shitty one. Especially since it only seemed to be about Haddie and Steve at first, with the two breaking up, and with the aftermath of the break-up following (Adam [Peter Krause] and Kristina’s [Monica Potter] opinions included), but the second half of the episode was about Amber and Steve only. No one gave a shit about anything that had happened, and no one was really interested in the aftermath of the break-up. Not even Haddie. The writers put themselves way too much into the Amber/Steve coupling, and completely forgot the other side of the story. And it doesn’t really matter whether the story will be continued from the other point of view in the next episode.
In the meantime I’m glad that Zeek’s (Craig T. Nelson) financial troubles have paced the way for marriage troubles between Zeek and Camille (Bonnie Bedelia). The season already teased such troubles between the two episodes ago, and now it finally is happening. I’m just not really happening about how the story broke for everyone of the characters. That Sarah (Lauren Graham) would be the one investigating the issue by herself seemed ridiculous, because she definitely is not a detective. I know she cares about her family, but that she would go deep into finding out what is going on is completely new to me. The dinner scene was great though. At first, the ridiculousness with the cue word “economy”, and then Camille hearing the truth from Zeek and sitting still – as if every movement is going to kill her and her family. There was some great acting in that scene, as well as some great emotions. Bonnie Bedelia acted those emotions beautifully, and that might have been the defining scene for her character. At least in this season. In addition, I found it interesting that Crosby (Dax Shepard) never had any interest in talking about the problem. Sure, he was shocked, and he had questions, but his disinterest in really talking about the problem in a tactical manner, instead of just talking about it, described his character more than the detective story described Sarah’s character. I almost got to the conclusion that Crosby wasn’t interested in talking about that topic at all.
After all, he just had to go through his own shit. “Fooling around” are two words I definitely wouldn’t want to hear when recapping a relationship with another woman. When you hope there could be something more, the woman just sees it as “fooling around” and secretly breaks your heart. I kinda know that feeling, which is why I could connect to Crosby throughout the story. On the other hand, there isn’t much chemistry between Crosby and Jasmine (Joy Bryant) yet, which is why I can understand why the writers pulled the plug on a potential relationship between the two. Maybe it’s something the writers realized during shooting of the show, or maybe it’s a relationship that was supposed to be a little fucked-up from the beginning. The scene with Crosby “brainwashing” Jabbar (Tyree Brown) was hilarious though. “You’re still tired? This is all just a dream, and I’m not really here”, and all this with Jasmine watching. Then again, it was her own fault. She threw Crosby out of the window, and she never accepted him as her lover in front of Jabbar. When she wants to keep him secret, why is she so angry about Crosby keeping her mother’s relationship with him secret RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM? By the way: That story so reminded me of the first-season story of ER, where Doug almost had the same thing going on with a kid and his mother. Sometimes I believe I watch way too much television.
Julia (Erika Christensen) being a soccer coach was okay. It was not a story I cared much about, and Julia’s strategy of winning could have been put in a bigger context with Joel (Sam Jaeger). At the end the story felt like a way to bring Jabbar a little closer into the Braverman family, as well as giving Racquel (Erinn Hayes) another episode. Did she have a contract for another guest appearance, or why was she wasted away in this episode? And finally, there were Adam and Kristina’s efforts to bring a few friends to Max (Max Burkholder). It was a solid story as well, and I was quite happy for the writers to bring the Lessings (Amanda Foreman, Phil Abrams) back. That Karma would come back to bite Adam and Kristina in their asses was also nice, and the whole thing looked like a nicely packaged moral of the story at the end of the episode. Sure, it was a little too cheesy, but seeing Max having fun with strangers (to me, because I don’t know the Lessings at all – the only thing they have is a shit-ass crazy son) was just too nice. Max actually belonged somewhere without bitching around like a crazy kid with Asperger’s – and that is always a positive thing. 7/10
Season 1, Episode 9
Date of airing: Apr 27, 2010 (NBC)
Nielsen ratings information: 5.81 million viewers, 2.4/7 with A18-49
Another good episodes with the expected continuation of solid stories and hilarious scenes. Now I understand why PARENTHOOD is also considered to be a comedy. Secretly it isn’t, but the writers really put some efforts in making the show as light as possible. (And in later seasons, as tearjerking as possible). The fever dance thing was quite hilarious, though thinking about it for a while, it just becomes cute. I see it as a refreshing take on a humiliating moment, and fever dances like Adam’s (Peter Krause) make me want to humiliate myself for a good cause in front of an audience as well. It’s just awesome to see how Adam didn’t care about anything in that moment and just had fun, even when it means that he couldn’t help Drew (Miles Heizer) in his situation. Adam was a little bit in love with himself here, but seeing the siblings dance in the living room… It makes me dream about better times.
Well, the story of how to lie, why to lie, and how Julia (Erika Christensen) tried to teach the word “lie”, as well as its consequences and morals, to Sydney (Savannah Paige Rae), was a little off to me. First of all I kinda find it cute that Julia harshly rode that line and never gave up. She always is a little stubborn, when it comes to things like that, and I’m almost happy when the writers stay consistent in their shows. But the whole moral thing of the story was somewhat disgusting to me. I know that as a parents it’s difficult to teach your kid the morals and standards of telling lies, but somehow I only saw comic relief in this story, and not really a moral. Somehow I just saw Julia’s stubbornness, and not what Sydney had learned out of this situation. Somehow I didn’t understand what was going on when Sydney told the truth (“You won!”), and how Joel (Sam Jaeger) was involved in it (there is a hidden message behind that scene, I just couldn’t get it in that instant). And somehow I would have expected for it to be a bigger deal for people involved like Crosby (Dax Shepard). He saw hoe crazy Julia was with that theme, and even Jasmine (Joy Bryant) saw what was going on. The two really could have had a talk about that during their date, just to bring the story “out there”. But maybe it’s just me. At least the writers didn’t forget to give Sydney a small story, after being declared “genius” in the last episode.
Finally Crosby and Jasmine have their first date. It had to happen after the two shared quite a few moments in recent episodes, and I’m glad that it happened here. I’m also glad that this relationship doesn’t look like big love at this moment. In fact, the dinner scene didn’t look like it was involving two people in love, instead they tried to force themselves into a conversation with each other. And secondly, Crosby making the move, and Jasmine’s behavior the morning after, makes it look like as if the two were completely ready to go into it, but were not ready in their minds. Maybe Jabbar cockblocks them in their minds, or maybe they are just not in love with each other in this episode, but if this would be a real thing, everybody would have seen that the date was a failure on many levels, and that the couple would have never become a couple after this date (and following session of sex). But whatever. The aftermath of Crosby watching the birth video was hilarious. Now I know to not watch a birth video, if I suddenly have a five-year-old kid standing in front of me, with its mother giving me the birth video in addition. By the way: The “failed date” also reminded me that Jasmine and Crosby work better as friends than a couple. For some reason, and I don’t really know why.
Kristina (Monica Potter) having a weekend off from her family was a nice story. Seeing her work and seeing Adam back at home, caring for the kids, might repeat the gender twist PARENTHOOD already depicted with Joel in this season, but it was still entertaining. Even though I didn’t quite see how Kristina lived up to her potential, and felt happy (the first meeting with the group was quite awkward, as in “What the fuck is this bitch doing here? Stealing my work?”), I liked that she felt happy, and I liked that she was glowing out of her mind, when she told Adam about everything, including a prospect for a career. In the meantime, Adam as a father was well-done as well. The fight with Haddie (Sarah Ramos) about the bra was understandable (yet a little over the top at times), and how Adam tried everything to keep Haddie away from Steve was hilarious. The “double standards” thing was a nice and welcomed addition in that story, and it really might be important to discuss that topic. While parents are open about their sons dating other girls, they are pretty much closed shut, when it comes to their girls dating other boys. It’s definitely a double standard, and I don’t accept Adam’s “It’s life”-excuse, but I’m glad it was included into the story. Kind of like a P.S. the writers discovered while writing the story.
And finally, Sarah’s (Lauren Graham) story. Amber (Mae Whitman) and her are hanging out more often, which can only mean that the two are friends now, and buried their differences from the first half of the season. The return of Jim (Mike O’Malley) was unnecessary though. I completely forgot all about him, and the vagina poem was completely ridiculous. The only thing I liked about that story was Amber and Sarah’s reaction (especially Amber’s, which showed that she really was a friend to her mother in that moment). Other than that, the story was useless. But maybe it was just useless, because it was only needed for the last scene: Amber being a mother to her mother, and giving her an advice. Once again, this looks totally like GILMORE GIRLS. 7/10
Season 1, Episode 8
Date of airing: Apr 20, 2010 (NBC)
Nielsen ratings information: 7.27 million viewers, 2.9/8 with A18-49
It was another solid episode with some more moments for the characters, as well as some background information. Consider me surprised, when Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) and Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) were having their own little story arc, including a both hilarious and humiliating anecdote from their past. I found it quite refreshing, and even though the writers seem to have forgotten that they wrote in a few problems between Zeek and Camille episodes ago (Zeek telling Sarah that there is some trouble between the two), I like that the writers haven’t forgotten Zeek and Camille at all. Their shared scene was kind of their first scene together in PARENTHOOD. All of a sudden another layer has been added into the show. Not just another generation of Bravermans, but also another generation of love and lust, background, as well as stories. That’s how fast it can go. After eight episodes!
Anyway, the rubber band ball story was okay. I found it hilarious that Sydney (Savannah Paige Rae) suddenly becomes the bored queen of the six-year-olds, and tried to throw her rubber band ball at her teacher, but missed and hit another student again. The face of the teacher (Brittany Ishibashi), telling that to Julia (Erika Christensen) and Joel (Sam Jaeger), cracked me up and was the funniest moment of the episode (“She may have been aiming at me”). But the rest of the story was a little bit of a meltdown. Julia’s fear of Sydney sharing the same syndrome as Max might be understandable, but I found it to be a little over the top. The return of Dr. Pelikan (Tom Amandes) was not needed for me, because… Well, I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because I never really needed the “Sydney is a genius” story to begin with. The way Adam (Peter Krause) and Kristina (Monica Potter) felt “happy” about that was great though. Suddenly there is this chance that they might not be alone in their situation, and that they have parents of other children they can talk with about Asperger’s, and how to raise their children with that syndrome. Of course Kristina would hope “for the best”, and of course she was a little shocked when Julia told her that Sydney tested way beyond the average. I could literally see how Kristina dropped a huge load right there – once relieved that she doesn’t have to feel horrible any longer, and also happy for Julia, while disappointed that she (and Adam) is still alone with an Asperger’s child. So many emotions in one scene, and Monica Potter delivered them all.
Meanwhile, Sarah (Lauren Graham) and Amber (Mae Whitman) continue their rocky relationship, and I liked it, but maybe Sarah was crying a little too much for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when women cry (in television dramas), but keep it between the episodes, and not throw 1000 gallons of tears at me that were rolled down people’s faces within 43 minutes. Damien’s (Eduardo Rioseco) return to the show, after only having like ten seconds of screentime previously, seemed okay. He was a slimey character, despite his words of wisdom and philosophy, and I loved what Zeek was telling to him, but Damien and Amber didn’t have any chemistry at all. Furthermore I can’t understand why Amber broke up with him. Their ice cream date seemed to be working fine, and then there was this moment where Amber just moved her head into the other direction, thinking the opposite of what is happening. Did she become a real character in that moment? Did she connect with her mother during her date with her boyfriend? Is the rocky relationship between mother and daughter suddenly over? By the way: The scene with Sarah and Camille was nice. I expected a little more cheesiness (like Camille telling Sarah “You made mistakes, dropped on the floor, but put yourself back up again”), but wat I saw was good enough to show how much fictional parents in television shows appreciate their fictional children. At the end, PARENTHOOD is all about love, and Camille showed a shitload of it in that scene.
Adam and Zeek bonding was also nice, but I don’t know if Zeek’s financial troubles is the right story to replace the marriage trouble with. First of all, I don’t buy that Zeek suddenly tries to make his money in real estate, suddenly made a mistake, and suddenly is kinda broke. Seven episodes the writers had time to tease towards a story, and they did (with Zeek and Camille having troubles in marriage), but they dropped the story and started off something completely new. I find that a little inconsistent, and it’s not really good writing. But whatever. At least one of the siblings shared a moment with a parent, and the story gave Zeek enough screentime to count as a real character in the show. That Zeek would lie to Camille about everything was cruel to look at – even more when it looked like that Camille knows Zeek is not telling her everything. By the way, the road trip scene was ugly. Too many cuts between Adam, Zeek, the Nissan car (product placement FTW!), and the landscape. As if the producers wanted to make clear they really were shooting this scene on a road, and Adam was really driving the car. That’s nice and all, but don’t include a couple dozen cuts into a scene that’s only a minute long – it’s just terrible to look at.
And finally, Jabbar’s (Tyree Brown) birthday party. The little argument between Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Jasmine (Joy Bryant) was alright, but it didn’t really go deep. I thought that the argument could show how much Jasmine wants Crosby around, and how she hopes for him to be around for the whole time and eternity, but instead it was just an argument that was carried by a lie five years ago. The first meeting of the two families was okay, despite a few clichés here and there. Especially Sekou (Brooklyn McLinn) couldn’t stop himself from being the mad black brother, which was just a ridiculous moment. Which is why I was glad that Jasmine told everybody the truth right after that scene, making a stop out of the horrendous lie. 7.5/10
Season 1, Episode 7
Date of airing: Apr 13, 2010 (NBC)
Nielsen ratings information: 6.28 million viewers, 2.5/7 with A18-49
A very solid episode that finally managed to develop the chemistry between the cast members. It took a little while for it to hit the screen, because the first six episodes kinda looked like as if the chemistry was only good enough for the scenes with all the siblings, while the rest of the episode tried to be carried by its stories. Finally the characters carry the episode(s), which make PARENTHOOD an even better show than it already is. In addition, despite a few clichés here and there, I liked – once again – all the stories. Some great conflicts, some understandable anger, and generally speaking some really interesting conversations. Especially the one between Sarah (Lauren Graham), Kristina (Monica Potter) and Julia (Erika Christensen) was interesting to me, and not just because Kristina and Julia were trying to push Sarah into a relationship with Mark Cyr, despite him being Amber’s teacher, and despite the age difference between the two. I like that Kristina and Julia don’t know anything about Sarah in that situation, and completely forget about Amber. Seriously, the two have daughters, and if they wouldn’t be married, how would they think about a situation where they flirt with their daughter’s English teacher, and a relationship is blooming? I don’t know if it would have been a different story and scene, if Julia and Kristina would have put themselves into Sarah;s shoes, and I don’t know if it was intended by the writers for Kristina and Julia to not put on Sarah’s shoes.
Anyway, the episode was heavy on Adam (Peter Krause), and I loved what he was going through here. His anger of not having enough “me time” is completely understandable, and even I realize every off and on that “me time” is important, and that being alone, forgetting the rest of the world for a moment, can do great shit to your brain. His loud argument with Kristina was great, and I just loved how Kristina also was about to lose it, yet fully understood Adam and pretty much forced him with her own “calmness” to take a break. Usually, when I hear “take a break”, I instantly think of FRIENDS and the whole Ross/Rachel debacle in the third season (that show really messed me up), so I was a little unsure about what Kristina really was thinking in that situation. But then I remembered that the two have a happy marriage, and that they love each other. And if Kristina wants Adam to be happy, she accepts his absence for a few hours. In the meantime, the little arc with Gaby (Minka Kelly) felt a little random to me. When Adam saw her at the bar, having a few drinks, I wondered for more than just a minute why Adam was so curious about it. Is Gaby not allowed to have her own life outside of her hours with the Braverman family, and especially Max? is Gaby not allowed to drink with friends and be a happy, young and sexy woman? Okay, it was hilarious to see Adam being surprised about how well Gaby was when working with Max (Max Burkholder) the next morning, but other than that, the story was pure random. But I liked it anyway.
Sarah breaking up with Mark (Jason Ritter) was a great scene. First of all, I accepted the two as a couple more here than I did in the last episode, but only because of the working chemistry. But seriously, the break-up scene just rules. The way Sarah lost the potential love of her life (or at least a few months of fun with a great guy), because she didn’t want to destroy her already rocked relationship with Amber was great writing and wonderful acting, and I felt all the emotions in that scene. Even more, the whole prequel to that break-up was great. How Sarah told Amber (Mae Whitman) that she is seeing Mark, and how Amber was starting to cry behind closed doors… It’s almost like you realize in that moment that your supposedly best friend, who is also your mother (again, it’s GILMORE GIRLS all over again), is stabbing you in the back and taking away your man. Sure, nothing would have happened between Amber and Mark, but she was feeling something. Something more than the usual “I don’t give a fuck”, but then her mother had to take it away from her. Or in this particular case, add multiple extra layers, which make Amber’s life even more complicated than it already is.
Julia’s day date with Haddie (Sarah Ramos) was okay, but I didn’t feel anything. It gave some time to aunt and niece, but other than that I don’t think that Julia is taking something away from her efforts of explaining her job to Haddie, while Haddie is definitely not taking away anything from her day with Julia. Yes, Julia was thinking about her job, probably hating it in that instant, but having a complete C arc resulting in just one small scene between Julia and Joel (Sam Jaeger)… It’s usually wasted time. But hey, at least Haddie learned something about her family. About what Julia is doing, about what her Mom has done… Considering how much she was not involved in her parent’s life during the first two episodes, it’s a step in the right direction.
And finally, Crosby’s (Dax Shepard) play dates with son and random sexy Yoga mother. It was hilarious, it was romantic in a way (Jabbar [Tyree Brown] pretty much cockblocking Crosby all the way from the swimming pool), and the shared moment between Jasmine (Joy Bryant) and Crosby, when she was picking up Jabbar at night, almost looked like as if the writers were ready to include another blooming relationship in the show. And that reminds me how interesting it is that the writers haven’t even started with a potential relationship between Crosby and Jasmine. They have a son, but seeing them as a couple seemed worlds away. And suddenly Jasmine has a little crush on Crosby? Otherwise her angry behavior towards Crosby near the end would have been for nothing. The one thing that really annoyed me in that story was the fact that the kids in the pool, as well as random six-pack man, were totally able to see Crosby and Valerie (Jacqueline Pinol) having sex. The windows on that house were huge! It was a glass house! Maybe that was the real reason why Crosby couldn’t have sex? 7.5/10