Review: ‘Parenthood’ – ‘In Dreams Begin Responsibilities’

A review of last night’s “Parenthood” coming up just as soon as I can hear the egotistical douchebagginess in your voice…

When it’s really humming, “Parenthood” has a strong balance between subplots that make you laugh and ones that make you cry, between stories that remind you of the many crushing disappointments and difficulties of everyday life and ones that present a feel-good alternative to how things probably would go in reality.

So far this season, that balance has felt out of whack, in part because Kristina running for mayor of Berkeley is such a wild miscalculation. It’s insane even by the usual “Parenthood” flight of fancy standard, and one where the longer it goes, the more my affection for Kristina (and the entire Kristina/Adam/Max corner of the series) diminishes. “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” briefly offered the suggestion that Kristina might have to bail on the race, but instead Adam’s rapper pal Mr. Ray came through with the necessary cash to keep this improbability going. And to make matters worse, we then have Adam – who, over the previous few episodes, has been understandably freaking out about the expenses of the campaign, and the stress on his cancer survivor wife – deciding after a brief conversation with Mr. Ray to completely reinvent the Luncheonette’s business model, with a plan that has even Crosby – who, remember, is such a flake that he talked Adam out of the two of them taking a small fortune from Dwayne Wayne a few seasons back – worried about where the money will come. Adam and Crosby dealing with the rapidly-shifting (or, as Crosby puts it, dying) music business is a worthy topic for the show to deal with, but to do it now? In the middle of this silliness with Kristina, Heather and Bob “I’m The Worst Person In The World” Little?

The episode’s other subplots mostly clicked. Anything where Lauren Graham and Mae Whitman cry is going to be effective, and I was amused on a meta level by a Braverman (even if she’s the Braverman who left town for years) being horrified at the idea of a Braverman spouse not being close to their own family. (Keeping in mind, of course, that we never see, and only occasionally hear about, Kristina and Joel’s relatives, leaving Jasmine as the outlier.) Zeek pitching in to help with Victor’s reading problem, and was also a rare instance of Zeek being fatherly with Julia (he interacts much more often with his other kids). Drew getting trapped in the Friend Zone was predictable, but the scene where Adam tried to teach him about Joni Mitchell was the episode’s most entertaining. (In general, Adam being geeky about old music is one of the show’s sweet spots, but the Luncheonette’s client base is too modern to usually exploit it.)

What did everybody else think? Are you eager for the election to come and go? Do you think there’s now a chance of a Kristina victory? Is Sarah right to be worried about Ryan, or just being a Braverman? How many of you would sign up for Jasmine only making brief FaceTime appearances from now on? And do you agree with Adam about the power of Track 9 (which, if I’ve done my research properly, would be “Raised on Robbery”)?