Review: ‘Parenthood’ – ‘Nipple Confusion’

A review of last night’s “Parenthood” coming up just as soon as I put Dick Cheney on my pro/con list…

“Parenthood” often wavers between confronting the grim realities of its characters’ situations, and presenting feel-good, sometimes plausible and sometimes not, resolutions to those problems. “Nipple Confusion” mostly went for the uplift, but in ways that at least first acknowledged how complicated the situations are, and how many more problems may be yet to come.

So even though Sarah got to take a good picture of Kristina, we first had Hank pointing out how directionless Sarah has been for the run of the series, which is why it’s hard for her family or the audience to take her latest career path seriously. Even though we close the Julia/Joel story with Julia redoubling her efforts to help Victor with his reading and keep him in the fifth grade, it becomes clear just how far behind he is, and now there’s a fracture in the marriage(*) because Julia went to Ed and trusted his advice more than Joel’s. Adam finally hands the credit card over to Kristina with a smile, but only after Kristina has acknowledged what an absurd longshot her campaign is.

(*) I didn’t write about last week’s episode, with the introduction of David Denman as Ed, but if he and/or Sonya Walger are there to cause temptations for Julia and/or Joel, the level of execution is going to have to be damn high (like Graham Chase/Hallie Lowenthal high) for me to not be annoyed with it all. I’m not saying that couples don’t stray, even ones involving seemingly perfect people like Joel, but too often shows treat infidelity as one last trick to pull out of the bag late in the run when most other story ideas have been exhausted, and they play as such.  

We also got an unequivocal, if not entirely believable, happy ending with Ryan (aka Sgt. York) laying down the law to Drew’s obnoxious bro of a roommate (an adult kicking in a dorm room door and threatening a student would likely lead to trouble for Drew and/or his family, not to lacrosse dude simply rolling over and taking it), a rare moment of peace for Jasmine and Crosby’s first piece of bonding with Aida and, in the episode’s best, most complicated scene, Zeek and Camille realizing they are at an impasse about what they want to do next with their lives. The show has so rarely told stories just about the grandparents, and not all of them have been fantastic, but this one is playing out very well so far, and in a way where it could realistically go in many directions, whether it’s another separation, Zeek reluctantly selling the house and griping all the way, Camille stewing as Zeek works on the car, the return of Camille’s artist friend Matthew Biscali, or maybe even a Very Special Guest Appearance by Bruce Willis as John McClane battles terrorists at his ex-wife’s spacious Berkeley estate.

Still early in the season, but so far, the stories are percolating nicely, and it feels like a good balance among the ensemble. Nobody’s feeling ignored, nor is any one story dominating the action yet.

What did everybody else think?