A review of last night’s “Parenthood” coming up just as soon as I tell you a story about Lenny Kravitz’s stinky feet…
“Remember Me, I’m the One Who Loves You” dealt with various Bravermans being on the verge of either getting everything they’ve ever wanted, or losing it. Crosby finally gets to marry Jasmine and be an uncomplicated nuclear family with her and Jabbar, but he also wants to snuff Adam’s dream of enormous riches courtesy of Kadeem Hardison.(*) Just as Julia is preparing to take the baby boy home, she’s confronted with the devastating image of Zoe in the nursery being very maternal with him. And though Sarah seems about to get the happy ending – baby, boyfriend, and a new start in New York – there’s always the suggestion that Amber (who never gets what she wants) may need her too much for that to work out.
(*) Why doesn’t the former Dwayne Wayne work more, anyway? I’ve always liked him.
From my viewpoint as a viewer of the show, I don’t know that I got a lot of what I wanted out of this episode, even though it had many strong individual moments.
Even the use of both a torrential downpour and Death Cab for Cutie’s gorgeous “Transatlanticism,” for instance, weren’t enough to make me think that Crosby and Jasmine getting married is a good idea. It’s structured as a triumphant, joyous moment, but all I could think about was how unpleasant they became even before the problematic business with Crosby’s autistic nephew’s therapist and about how the show in general (intentionally or not) makes Jasmine out to be unsympathetic. And I thought about how the idea of them trying to be in each other’s lives, but not a couple, because of Jabbar, was much more interesting than anything that happened pre-Gabby, and felt unlike the kind of story most other shows would tell, and now that’s gone. Great song, lots of rain (even if that’s such a hoary romantic comedy cliche that “Cougar Town” spoofed it with the fake green screen last week), but not nearly as triumphant as it was designed to be.
Both Erika Christensen and Rosa Salazar were tremendous throughout the birth sequence, which is also such a familiar trope that’s hard to do anything new with, but which they elevated through their acting and their bond. But it feels like we’ve spent half this season with Julia being convinced that she’s not going to adopt this baby, so the impact of this particular moment felt significantly weakened. If Zoe goes through with the adoption, it becomes “fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice, shame on me,” and if she decides to keep the baby, the show couldn’t possibly have dropped more anvils about that. I understand that the actual adoption process can be fraught with false starts, repeated disappointment, etc., but in the context of scripted drama that’s playing out over 18 episodes, it feels too manipulative.
Like Zoe’s magical paralegal opportunity last week, the future of The Luncheonette feels like the show stretching reality to generate a conflict. Adam and Crosby don’t even own the building – which, yes, the offer acknowledged (Richard said they’d take over the lease) – and it just seems like a huge sum of money when the record company would probably be better off buying the building, contracting with Adam and Crosby to work for them, etc. For that matter, I’m not sure why Adam didn’t at any point propose that part of the deal is that Crosby gets to keep running the place. I don’t know. It just feels too messy, too quickly, even with Dwayne Wayne being slick.
And I don’t entirely know what to make of the various Sarah/Amber/Kristina scenes. First, there’s the simple fact of the matter that Sarah isn’t going to move to New York and live happily ever after with Mr. Cyr. Forget about Jason Ritter doing another pilot; the show doesn’t work if one of the core Bravermans (Bravermen?) is living 3000 miles away. The idea that they’d wait a year or more to do it makes it more realistic (I still believe we’ll get a fourth season, but a fifth might be improbable), but then it becomes so abstract as to not be worth devoting an entire subplot to. Five years from now, Uncle Jesse and I are going relocate to Guam!
As for Amber’s problem with Bob and Kristina, it’s never been clear to me exactly what the show’s point of view on a Bob/Amber “affair,” and whether Kristina was right or wrong to drive to Sacramento and bust it up. Maybe that’s a good thing – shows shouldn’t tell you how to feel about every single story (especially when the moments where they did, like Jasmine’s proposal, made me feel the opposite of what was intended) – but this doesn’t feel so much ambiguous as confused.
There are plenty of conflicts to deal with in the finale (including poor Lily and Dr. Joe Prestige getting the bum’s rush), and maybe the ultimate resolution of everything will feel more satisfying. But even though this was an hour where people cried a lot, the only time I felt particularly moved was when Zoe told Julia she loved her.
What did everybody else think?