‘Parenthood’ – ‘Politics’: Moving out and moving in

A review of last night’s “Parenthood” coming up just as soon as I train for a year to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro…

“Politics” was the first of four consecutive episodes that will bring this slightly abbreviated season to an end. (And while the show’s ratings aren’t great, they also aren’t terrible, and “non-terrible” is more or less grounds for renewal at NBC these days, so I feel reasonably confident it’ll be back.) It was light on Adam (in part because Peter Krause directed the episode), but otherwise seemed to make clear what stories we’re going to be dealing with down the home stretch.

And while several of them are stories I either haven’t liked previously (Joel and Julia buying Zoe’s baby), or that concern me about where they’re going (Jasmine and Crosby feeling more strongly about each other than about their current partners), the execution in most of them was excellent. For instance, I don’t particularly want Jasmine and Crosby to get back together — or even to mess things up with a pair of so-far interesting guest characters in Dr. Joe Prestige and Lily — but I thought the show and the actors did a good job of playing the messy nature of having to stay in the life of someone you love but have a bad history with. And I think Zoe’s decision to move out of Joel and Julia’s house was a good one, as that living arrangement was unhealthy for everyone and there mainly because a more straightforward adoption wouldn’t be as dramatically interesting.

Sarah and Mark, meanwhile, is a story I’ve enjoyed all along because of the palpable chemistry between Lauren Graham and Jason Ritter, and because there hasn’t been much in the way of contrived drama between them. But the age difference has always been there, lurking just underneath the surface, and it boiled up very well last night in another one of those great scenes where Graham’s expression turns on a dime. I figure this will ultimately not work out (and not just because Ritter and Jason Katims are doing a pilot), but I appreciated the unexpected development that Mark didn’t so much as flinch before giving up Morocco in favor of having a baby with Sarah. He’s a good guy, Mr. Cyr is.

The one story I feel ambivalent about is Amber and Bob Little. Katims has a history of hooking up teen characters (which Amber still technically is, even though she’s out of high school) and adults, and it’s only occasionally treated as a bad thing. I thought this was going to be an exception, as Amber spent much of the episode unable to enjoy her success at work because it felt like it only came from Bob wanting to sleep with her. (That’s one of the under-dramatized aspects of sexual harassment; even if the harasser is treating you well, you still think it’s not because you’re good at your job.) But I think the later scenes tried to paint ob as sympathetic, and this budding relationship as a promising relationship for Amber. It could still blow up — both previous seasons of this show, after all, climaxed with some Amber-related disaster — but a lot of those scenes tonight made me uncomfortable in ways that I’m not entirely sure were intended.

Also, Crosby and Adam spent a lot of time saying “Dawes,” which is either an actual band or an AV Club meme (or possibly both). Unlike that time Rooney played at The Bait Shop on “The O.C.,” though, we didn’t actually hear the band members (if, indeed, they are a band) perform.

What did everybody else think?