Review: ‘Parenthood’ – ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’

A review of last night’s “Parenthood” coming up just as soon as I can assemble an M-16 in the dark in under 35 seconds…

“Parenthood” is unquestionably pro-Braverman in its belief system, but I appreciate that, from time to time, it will give us an episode like “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” where one or more of the adult Braverman siblings is unquestionably on the wrong side of an argument with a non-Braverman (or Braverman-by-marriage).

In the Julia and Joel argument, for instance, Julia has absolutely no leg to stand on, what with her having quit her own very lucrative job without first consulting Joel in the way she demanded he do before taking the construction job. (And Joel is enough of a take the high road guy that he instead makes his case to her by focusing on all the ways he was supportive of her work over the years.) That she feels unfulfilled at home is understandable, despite having a much cushier life than most of the stay-at-home moms I know in real life – or even than Kristina has on this show – but her approach early on here is one of, “If I can’t have fun, nobody else can,” and Joel is right to call her out on that (in a very good episode for the underused Sam Jaeger), and Julia is right to apologize.

Or take Sarah again being caught in between Mark and Hank, thinking she can find a way to please everyone and not having the first clue of how justifiably mad Mark is going to get about this. And Mark doesn’t even know all that we know about Sarah and Hank, and that there’s more than just empathy motivating Sarah – that, even if she doesn’t want to admit it, she feels a connection with this guy that she doesn’t always seem to feel with her fiance. Sarah’s been making a lot of bad choices so far this season, and it seems we’re heading towards the break-up we all saw coming the moment Ray Romano turned up.

Meanwhile, I spent the first 20 minutes or so of the Max story being impressed that the show seemed to be tabling the cancer story – which you know that I’ve loved, and which has been getting the show more love from fans and critics than ever before, it seems – for a week to illustrate how life continues to go on for Adam and Kristina even while they’re dealing with this crisis. But of course it was ultimately about the cancer, and Kristina’s fear that she may not have the time to wait for Max to feel comfortable going to a school dance. Her pushing him to go is something of a selfish impulse, but also one that a mom in Kristina’s position absolutely gets to have, and the final scene of her teaching her son how to dance – and Adam watching from a distance, so many emotions washing over Peter Krause’s face – was just so damn beautiful.

In other territory, glad as I am to see Pamela Adlon on another show that I like, I hope that as this story continues she doesn’t stay at this abrasive, one-note level. Also, though I know that ship has sailed, every time The Luncheonette faces financial ruin, all I can think is, “You know who might be really helpful right now? Dwayne Wayne and his millions of dollars.” And the Amber/Ryan story was a bit on the backburner this week, but featured that great scene where we got to see Zeek reacting to recent developments with his back turned to Amber, so we could see just how high his real level of concern was before he dialed it down when facing her so as not to freak his granddaughter out. Good stuff from the similarly-underused Craig T. Nelson.

What did everybody else think?