This week’s episode is all about the boys of Parenthood. Once again, the show has chosen to devote time to Joel and Julia’s separation but this episode smartly focuses less on the adults and more on how this is affecting the children. Even smarter, it focuses mostly on Victor, their adopted son. Also at the forefront of “The Offer” is Drew, poorly handling the Natalie situation and becoming an amateur stoner wallowing in his older sister’s apartment, and Max who goes on a field trip without his parents and has a complete breakdown due to his classmates. It’s a “we’re going to make you cry” episode of Parenthood but it’s effective, gut-wrenching, and it’s going to stick with me for a while.
But before we get into all that, there are some other stories milling about, some more successful than others. Camille and Zeek are still understandably wishy-washy about selling their house. They don’t need the house anymore, especially not such a big one, and it would give them the freedom to travel more — or do whatever the hell they want, really. On the other hand, they’ve had the house for 44 years and have seen so many children grow up in it. They both have put a lot into it and the idea of having a stranger come in and basically gut the thing from the ground up is hard to bear. A guy makes an offer, all cash but below asking price, and it’s clear he’s going to make some big changes to the property. Camille and Zeek reject the offer and decide to go with the original plan of waiting a few months to put it on the market but the guy counters with a higher offer — based on their reactions, I’d assume it was anywhere in the vicinity of 70 billion dollars — and it ends on a cliffhanger. I still don’t think there is any way the show will get rid of this house (it’s such a great setting!) so I’m ready for the writers to stop dragging out this plot.
Sarah and Hank are doing their usual work together, kind of flirt together, pretend they don’t like each other, nauseate the viewer and take away from the better, stronger-written plots in the episode. I wish Sarah would get a plot that doesn’t revolve around a guy but Hank is better than most, I suppose. Also of note: he compares the Bravermans to Starbucks.
Now, time for the good stuff. Drew has been skipping all but one of his classes (the one that Natalie isn’t in) but soon skips that one, too. He doesn’t want to see Natalie or Berto on campus so he opts to wallow around Amber’s, smoking her pot in the morning and playing sad songs on the guitar. On a basic level, I can get why Drew is upset (his cute crush slept with his annoying roommate) but on a real level, I am on Natalie’s side. They weren’t dating, she didn’t do anything wrong, and it’s not like Berto and Drew are friends. Still, I don’t have too many complaints about the longevity of Drew’s love catastrophe because it’s resulting in some nice sibling time. It puts Amber in both the role of “older sibling who dumps water on her brother’s head and tries to force him to go to school and not ruin his life” and the role of “older sibling who just wants to let her brother lay around and do nothing until he feels better.”
Parenthood‘s portrayal of Aspergers has been the source of much acclaim — mostly when it comes to Max but lately, also with Hank — and “The Offer” is an example of why. Max freaks out on his field trip, prompting his worried teacher to call his parents (and then later, adorably, sit next to Max and ramble on about his education just to have something to talk about). We later find out the source — a classmate peed in his canteen — and Max struggles to understand why the other kids hate him so much. The Aspergers makes him very smart, he says, but why isn’t he smart enough to know why they’re laughing at him? This scene (one of the best the show has ever done) is as much about his parents as it about Max. Cristina and Adam are so angry at these kids, fuming and calling them idiots and assholes, but they know that there isn’t anything they can really do about it. There isn’t a way to get through to the bullies nor is there a way to make Max feel better. They’re completely helpless.
Last of the young Bravermans is Victor. Victor has always had trouble adjusting to this huge family but just when things seem to finally go well, when he starts to feel a bit more at home, his parents split up. Sydney, being the Worst Child On This Show, is upset about her parents too but also jealous of the sweet cell phone that Joel gave to Victor. She starts screaming at the dinner table, yelling at Victor that he ruined everything. In her mind, her family was perfect before Victor came along (hah, no) and he’s the reason why they’ve been arguing and sleeping in separate houses. It’s a common, childhood argument (placing the blame on another sibling) but it’s so especially harsh with Victor, who isn’t blood related and has abandonment issues, and who confuses “adoption” with “moving in.” Victor has already had a rough year at school and now his home life is spiraling, too, and I’m starting to worry about the serious impact it will have on him of Joel and Julia don’t get their shit together soon.