‘Parenthood’ – ‘Tales from the Luncheonette’: They tried to make me pay for rehab

Senior Television Writer
10.19.11 32 Comments


A review of last night’s “Parenthood” coming up just as soon as I invest in my family’s future with Welsh spring water…

Cee Lo Green stopped by “Parenthood” last night for the storyline that gave “Tales from the Luncheonette” its title, and while his presence gave NBC something to promote (and may have moved the ratings needle a little, but probably didn’t), I was much less interested in his presence(*) than I was in seeing how Adam and Crosby work together (or fail to) under stress, seeing how much this new venture is weighing on both of them, and seeing the collateral effect that Adam’s long work hours had on new mom Kristina and her relationship with Haddie.(**) Very simple stuff, no one being unreasonable (Haddie, for instance, is disappointed Kristina fell asleep on the essay but understood what was happening), and even the blow-up between Crosby and Adam felt wholly realistic (and notable because usually Adam is the Braverman with the explosive temper).

(*) Credit to Cee Lo for at least letting himself be portrayed as something of a diva – even if it never went into Nigel Tufnel territory – where often the very special musical guests on shows like this only want to be seen as awesome. (Though Adam and the others did spend plenty of time discussing his awesomeness even as he was making trouble.)

(**) As always, the large cast gets in the way of really dealing with every aspect of an issue. We got to see Haddie deal with Kristina’s fatigue and unavailability, and that was all very well-drawn, but how is Max responding to his mom not being there to respond to his every need, to the crying baby, etc? I’m sure we’ll get to that eventually, but this definitely seemed like an ideal time to show both of the kids wrestling with it in their own way.

Similarly, I appreciated the way the Seth issue played out. Mark’s response to the whole thing felt very much in parallel with Haddie/Kristina, even if the end result wasn’t quite the same: he also understands why Sarah’s doing what she’s doing, but he’s much less okay with it than Kristina Haddie is about her mom devoting so much time and energy to someone else. And it’s always effective to see Zeek get mad about this guy whom he feels ruined his daughter’s life (you can see where Adam gets his temper from in episodes like this), just as it’s equally effective to see Joel be quietly, eloquently awesome.(***) And Amber’s reaction to seeing her parents holding hands and presenting themselves as a family unit – even if Sarah has no intention of getting back together with Seth – was a nice little moment. She trusts her dad about as much as Zeek does, doesn’t want to see her mother or brother – or herself – get hurt by him again, so even though Seth is on the verge of getting help, it’s an uncomfortable scene to witness for her.

(***) I wonder if his perfection is one of the reasons we see so much less of him and Julia than we do the other three siblings – not as much obvious tension there – or if it’s more that the writers often struggle with writing for Julia.  

Drew’s first kiss was a light garnish to go along with some of the heavier material in the other stories, but it felt very real, and Amber coaching Drew was as amusing as it was uncomfortable for him. Good to see those two getting along and interacting a lot.

What did everybody else think?

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