Review: ‘Parenthood’ – ‘You’ve Got Mold’

A review of last night’s “Parenthood” coming up just as soon as the baby’s eating the kitty litter…

“You’ve Got Mold” was at times a terrific illustration of all the things “Parenthood” does so well. It was also, at times, a reminder of the ways in which the show can frustrate.

The Adam and Kristina story, for instance, did such a great job of depicting the bureaucratic nightmare of having a special needs kid who doesn’t fit easily into any one category, in a school district with too many kids and not enough money or experience. But then it pivoted into Kristina Fantasyland with the idea that they’re going to start up their own school for Max and other kids like him. In a vacuum, maybe that story works. In a season that’s already seen Kristina improbably run for mayor and Adam improbably decide to transform his entire business, it’s much too much.

Or look at Joel moving out. On the one hand, the performances were wonderful, whether from the adults (the look in Sam Jaeger’s eyes as Joel looks at the house and family he’s leaving behind just about killed me) or the kids (Victor trying to be stoic and then breaking down anyway was also brutal). And Julia’s arrival at her parents’ house, on the same night that Crosby and Jasmine were there, and right as Zeek and Camille had decided to sell the old place, was a great convergence of story and theme. (The house gets a last hurrah, and Camille gets to see both the value of it and what she’s been missing during her adventures.) On the other hand, though, the show hasn’t done such a great job of showing why Saint Joel, ultimate family man, wouldn’t so much as try some couples counseling before going to the nuclear option – and I say that as someone who thinks Julia has been at fault in virtually every one of their problems this season. It just feels like they didn’t want Julia to do something to actually justify his attitude, because it would both make us hate her and make it much harder to have them reconcile later, assuming that’s the plan. (I’d be more likely to believe they will stay separated if the show hadn’t put Crosby and Jasmine together at the end of season 2.)

Ultimately, I would rather “Parenthood” get the emotions right – whether big ones like the kids crying or small ones like Sarah taking pleasure in Hank giving her an attaboy – than the plot mechanics. But the show has demonstrated, including at times this season, that it can do both well at the same time, and it would be nice to not have to wave away the things that are irritating because the other parts are so spectacular.

What did everybody else think?