Enjoying Parenthood requires suspension of privilege. You have to put aside the fact that figuring out how to serve casein-free and gluten-free meals to 40 private-school students is inherently a fancy problem. If you didn’t happen to know that this diet is thought to help with Autism symptoms, you’d think it’s symptomatic of the Whole Foods culture pervasive among pseudo-health-conscious upper-middle-class families in the Bay Area — the exact type exhibited in Kristina and Adam Braverman, and his sister Julia. These are the sort of folks who sweat the small stuff, and who at times act entitled. Especially Julia, who showed a bratty side rivaling that of her monster spawn in this week’s episode, when she told her daughter’s teacher, “I’m sorry that you haven’t seen a better side of Sydney, because she’s a great girl.” I’m sure the new girl who was mortified and made to feel like a social pariah by Sydney agrees, Julia.
This is the sort of aggravating thing that comes with the territory of committing to Parenthood, tearful week after tearful week. Some of it, specifically with regards to parental overprotectiveness, is universal across the class divide. Cling to these parts and try to forget the fact that if Sarah were the super in your apartment building, you’d probably move out. That Crosby’s irresponsibility would be the least charming thing in the world if he were your kid brother. That Zeek rustling around in the fridge looking for meat amidst a serious heart condition would be troubling, not crotchety-old-man funny, if he were your own father. If I watch Parenthood in a bad mood, I find my tolerance for the more cliched and “problematic” moments of the show to be lessened. So I must watch and listen with my heart. That sounds awfully trite, but then again so is Parenthood.
With that said, I have to admit that so much of this week’s episode irritated me. Why is Zeek resisting mitral regurgitation surgery on his heart when he’s only 72 years old and the procedure has a 95 percent success rate? Why is everyone so annoyed that Julia made a fruit tart instead of a birthday cake? Why is Adam so surprised when Crosby shirks his responsibility once again? Why does Kristina freak out every time a parent calls her? Let this unnecessary drama fall to the side and simply focus on the real moments of emotional honesty here. There were five of them this week, which is more than most episodes of Parenthood, and three of them involved Amber’s pregnancy. I teared up during two of these moments, which I’ll distinguish with an asterisks below (let me know if you also cried during these moments). In order from least sad to saddest.
-Julia slamming the door on her marriage to Joel
“You can’t pretend that you didn’t destroy me, because you did, you destroyed us — all of us.” YOU TELL ‘EM, JULIA — and get that hot lawyer ass. You deserve it even though you are fairly high maintenance!
-Sarah momsplaining parenthood to Amber (most meta moment of this show so far, besides Adam exacerbating his whiteness to Mista Ray and crew in season three)
This was one of the moments when it was hard not to confuse Sarah with Lauren Graham’s Lorelai Gilmore. While Lorelai would blow up at Rory over something as serious as unplanned pregnancy (remember how she freaked when Rory lost her virginity to a married Dean?), Sarah condescends to Amber about the realities of child-rearing. Simplistic language like “you’re one person and you’ll turn into two, you need to make plans for that” is weird and sort of inadvertently funny because it sounds so much like Gilmore Girls sarcasm. Had a hard time figuring out who was being a jerk until…
-Sarah figuring out she was a jerk to Amber about her keeping the baby*
Awwww: “It doesn’t matter what I feel, I need to be there for her.” Also: baby pictures and “I realize I forgot to tell you about all the good stuff.” Braverman ladies: supporting each other through a never-ending string of pregnancy drama since 2010.
-Zeek choosing life, or at least a routine valve replacement, because Amber has mated with his favorite ex-soldier
This was a really sweet way to end a super annoying episode! Bonus points for terrible Zeek dance moves immediately following this revelation.
-Zeek’s speech to Adam about death* (HOLY SHIT ALL THE FEELS)
A tearful Adam: “If you don’t have the surgery, you could die. You could die, Dad. What do I do then?”
A stone-cold serious Zeek: “If I die you just take my ashes, you scatter them in center field in Marine Park, and you play a game of baseball over me. Because I’m going out on my terms.”