‘Parenthood’ – ‘A House Divided’: Edible complex

Senior Television Writer
02.02.11 26 Comments


A review of last night’s “Parenthood” coming up just as soon as I enjoy this lollipop…

Peter Krause can be very funny.

That doesn’t seem obvious, at first. Though he’s been a regular on two half-hour comedies (“Cybill” and “Sports Night”), as well as on dramas like this one that have prominent comedic sides (“Six FEet Under,” “Dirty Sexy Money”), he’s never been the go-to comedy guy in any of those casts. His job is usually to play straight man to his co-stars, and/or to provide some kind of moral center while everyone else is being wacky.

But the man can be funny, and “Parenthood” has done a better job of showcasing his silly side than a lot of his previous gigs. I think back to Adam rocking out to Run-DMC last season and I still smile. And he almost single-handedly redeemed “A House Divided” – an episode I otherwise grew frustrated with early and often – with his accidental stoner routine.

What bothered me about the episode wasn’t so much the execution (other than the ongoing presence of Cory, who continues to be a 20something caricature) as the very nature of it, in which most of the stories revolved around Bravermans (or, in Kristina’s case, Braverman-in-laws) being incredibly stubborn and refusing to listen to the sane counsel of their loved ones. I recognize that this is fairly typical behavior in any family, but that’s sort of the problem: I’ve had enough arguments with head-in-the-sand family members over the years that it just irritated me to have to sit there and watch Zeek, Kristina(*) and Julia act that way for most of the hour.

(*) Kristina was especially problematic. Monica Potter has a tendency to come off as shrill and unlikable on-screen, to the point where I was actually startled early in this series to realize that I didn’t hate her character. But this Haddie/Alex storyline has unfortunately brought out those characteristics that the show had somehow managed to suppress for most of its run. (Though they also came out during the Haddie/Amber story late last season.)

I recognize that much of the appeal of this series comes from the relatability of it – that people aren’t necessarily watching because their family is exactly like the Bravermans, but because there are moments peppered throughout each episode that inspire an “I’ve been there” reaction. But there are definitely times where I’ve been there once too often and don’t want to relive it via characters on my TV. So even though the engagement party turned out to be fun in the end, even though Adam was able to talk Max into appreciating the camping trip (while Zeek finally recognized that he can’t treat Max like his other kids and grandkids), and even though Kristina is finally kinda sorta seeing reason, it was a bit of a chore to get to those points.

But it was a chore that included Peter Krause sucking on a medicinal lollipop, and that’s just fun.

Finally, since I know people have asked, “Parenthood” is now listed in the blog siderail to make it easier to find the old recaps. In general, I’ve tried to keep that list to shows that I cover weekly and/or write about at length, whereas my “Parenthood” coverage tends to be more sporadic and brief. But on occasion, ask and ye shall receive.

But as to “A House Divided,” what did everybody else think?

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