Review: ‘Parenthood’ – ‘The Offer’

A review of last night's “Parenthood” coming up just as soon as I come in over asking…

I've gotten out of the weekly “Parenthood” reviewing business because the show had reached a point where I was spending much more time critiquing the behavior of the characters than the show itself. But when the show does something special like the Max/Kristina/Adam car scene from “The Offer,” I feel it deserves notice.

Stories like Max's field trip gone horribly awry, or like the yearbook incident from earlier this season, only make bigger arcs like Kristina's mayoral campaign or the charter school seem sillier and more contrived. “Parenthood” does the small stuff exceptionally well – though to Max, the feeling that he will never fit in with or be accepted by his peers would feel infinitely larger than the question of whether his mom will become mayor of Berkeley – but often struggles when it tries to do bigger things.  But when it's just these two parents and their kid in a car, and Max confessing how hurt and alone he feels, and Kristina climbing into the backseat (over Max's objection about hugs and proper behavior in a moving vehicle) and Adam seething at the thought of a kid peeing in Max's canteen, the show can be incredibly powerful. There have been times this season – including last week's episode – where both the show and Adam and Kristina have tried to treat some of Max's more obnoxious behavior as something that just has to be accepted, but this was a very effective reminder (beautifully played by all three actors) of just how vulnerable he is.

The rest of the episode was more mixed, and another example of how the full-season order has led the writing staff to drag out certain storylines – whether the sale of the house, Hank's unrequited attraction to Sarah, or Drew's love triangle – out past the point of usefulness. Joel and Julia's separation is a different case than the others, because there's so much to deal with there for both them and the kids – especially if the show means for it to be permanent, as opposed to be something that will end happily by the season finale. But even if Miles Heizer was the world's greatest songwriter, I don't know that I needed multiple scenes of Drew singing for Amber (the second one with them behaving in a non-sibling kind of way for a few moments).

But when “Parenthood” is really hitting it – as it was in the scene in the car – it goes to an emotional place few TV shows can match. You just have to sit through a lot of less interesting things to get there sometimes.

What did everybody else think?