Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Parenthood, "Perchance to Dream": It's tricky

A review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I unleash the fever...

Parenthood (whether the concept or the TV show) isn't a competition, but I couldn't help noticing that the parent doing the best job in "Perchance to Dream" is Crosby (and Jasmine, too). Adam freaks out over Haddie's sexuality, Sarah again tries to project all of her regrets onto Amber, and Julia took the broken mug issue way too far to overcompensate for the old lawyer=liar saw. Crosby, meanwhile, had no problem interrupting his date with Jasmine to help Jabbar through his fear of pooping in strange places, and he and Jasmine both recognized that they don't want to send the wrong message to the kid if their attempt to go from co-parents to couple doesn't work out.

Now, I'm not complaining about any of the others this week. Some of the most interesting stories on this show involve parents screwing up, as we saw with the scene where Haddie called Adam on his double-standard treatment of her. But just as no one would have expected Dax Shepard to give one of the best performances among this cast, who would have thought after the first few episodes that we might get a night where Crosby was so much more on his game than his siblings?

I don't want to give short shrift to Kristina's decision, by the way. The whole work/kids dilemma is a familiar one, in life and on TV, and Kristina has the added complication of a special needs kid. As much as she enjoyed her time back in grown-up world, I can understand her reluctance to go back full-time not long after finding out about Max's Asperger's (and not long before Haddie goes to college). And it was interesting to watch Adam throughout that scene, because you could tell he was trying to do right by his wife even as he very clearly didn't want her to go work for Sundra from "Survivor: Cook Islands."

"Perchance to Dream" was one of the show's more thematically and tonally consistent episodes. It was also a fairly light one, not only with Adam's goofy dancing, but Sarah and Amber listening in horror to Mike O'Malley's poems about Sarah's va-jay-jay, everyone else's reaction to Julia's cordoned-off area, and Drew's reaction to Haddie taking off her bra in the kitchen. Plus, Run-DMC! (Which gives me an excuse to link to the original video, with Penn & Teller.)

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

Love the show. Glad it got picked up for a 2nd season.

Anonymous said...

As a working parent of a severely special needs kid, I have to agree that it ain't easy. For example, this AM, I am so distracted that I am reading and commenting on blogs rather than working!

I like the story of the single Dad and was surprised it was the most compelling of the week.

Anonymous said...

portions of this show had a certain timelessness familar with Breaking Bad. i thought "was it really an hour??" i love teh amber/sarah realtionship & the actors' portrayal. fine work.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, Alan, great episode. I disagree with you about Crosby though - he and Jasmine have nothing in common besides Jabbar, so they were grateful for the interruption. Their connection later on was only about him.

JanieJones said...

I got a kick out the Fever.
It gave me a good laugh.

-Double standards
when I was a teenager, my parents were very strict with me, my brother got away with so much. I used to call my parent's on it and got a reaction of so? It used to infuriate me so I could relate to Haddie's frustration.

I'm enjoying Crosby story line.

Also, I knew Amber put the college catalog there for her mom. I like Amber, she's smart like her mother. I can understand why Sarah wants her to go to college. Amber would flourish and feel a freedom that I don't think is there right now.

Kristina not returning to work was wrapped up too neatly but I could see the dilemma. I thought Adam, perhaps without knowing it, was going through a laundry list of things that would need to be done, when it could have been discussed outside the bedroom.

Belinda said...

I liked this episode in that it didn't have a specific 'big thing' happening - like Max being diagnosed, or Crosby finding he has a son, or Sarah and Amber's teacher romance - just smaller moments of what their everyday lives are and how they are as parents ( like the name of the show. The only 'big thing' that happened was Christina getting a job) . And I like that their was no big family dinner with only some of the siblings checking up on each other while having individual family problems.

Anyway, it's nice to see the show find some of its footing.

Sundra from "Survivor: Cook Islands.

And she was in Lost just weeks ago. Nice to see se's getting more work!

Brandon said...

I'm having trouble interpreting that last Julia scene where she doesn't understand what happened to make her daughter admit she broke the vase.

Can someone spell that out for me?

Ashley said...

Does anyone know the name of the actor who plays the Assemblyman whose endorsement Kristina tries to get? I recognize him from another show and it's been bugging me trying to work out where from.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Ashley, it was Mark Damon Espinoza, who played Andrea's husband Jesse on the original 90210.

LA said...

OMG, Peter Krause. Fearless. Love it.

Anonymous said...


My interpretation of the scene with Julia and her daughter was that her daughter gave up what she saw as a battle of wills, rather than doing what was right. That's where the "you win" comes from. Julia was wondering where that kind of reaction would come from, which her husband recognized as being a Julia trait (who has obviously passed on her stubborness/competitiveness to her daughter).

Favourite line of the night: "I think he's talking about your vag".

Anonymous said...

Haddie's going off to college soon?

I know Sarah Ramos is probably in her twenties, but I had thought Haddie was supposed to be 15.

Kristi Logan said...

Adam and Christina are quickly becoming one of my favorite TV couples/parents, right up there next to Coach and Tami Taylor. They just seem like "real" couples.

Oh, and it was so fun to see Peter Krause dance and act goofy- it was so anti-Nate Fisher!

Hannah Lee said...

The dance scene was hysterical. Peter Krause has no shame.

And Kristina, Amber and Sarah were awesome as usual.

The Adam/Haddie stuff made me cringe; both were being unreasonable and crazy - kind of like real teenagers and their parents.

I did think it was funny that Adam’s chasing down Haddie at her boyfriend’s, telling her to get in the car, and then lunging crazily at her when she refused seem like a recreation of Sarah’s scene with Amber in the pilot. Wonder if they learned that pattern of behavior from Zeek or Camille. (I’ve got a hunch it was Zeek.)

The show is still finding its footing, but these later episodes seem more relaxed and smoother than the earlier ones.

Alan, now that the show has been renewed, I’m curious how you’d like to see it evolve in the second season?

blinky said...

I have come to the point where I am fast forwarding thru the entire show. It has become a totally sappy emotional manipulation. I can see everything coming a mile away. Plus each character is sooooo wonderful in their own special way. Excuse me while I puke.

So I guess I bid a final adieu to Parenthood.
Goodnight John Berkeley Boy!

Sara Ann said...

Did anyone else feel like the Drew/Haddie parallel was...not so parallel? Adam drove Drew to a public dance to ask a girl to, you know, dance. Haddie was buying super-special unmentionables and getting horizontal with her boyfriend behind closed doors. That's not the same - and when Haddie accused Adam of a double-standard, all I could think was, "that's not the same." There are a lot of good and incisive stories to tell about gender double-standards, but this one missed, for me.

Also, show of hands: who else is getting strong Gilmore Girls vibes off the whole Lauren-Graham-takes-her-teenage-daughter-on-a-college-tour plot? Obviously Amber is not Rory - in fact, Amber may be the anti-Rory. But sometimes it's hard not to feel like Sarah is Lorelai minus Stars Hollow plus parental empathy - which turns out to be Lorelai minus a drive to succeed. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Lauren Graham fan, and she's doing great work with the material she's given, I just...keep getting deja vu.

Anonymous said...

I'm at a loss as to what people find compelling about a series of "So-and-so will embarrass him/herself in 5...4...3..." countdowns, followed by cloying, predictable resolution.

Megan Carlson said...

I really enjoyed this episode. I laughed out loud a number of times (off the top of my head, at the dance scene and at Amber's response to that awful poem), and I really enjoyed the chemistry that is developing between the characters.

I was reluctant at the start but stayed in because of the cast and creative team, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the show progresses in its next season.

Erin said...

I think this was the funniest episode yet - the poem at the college function, Peter Krause's dance, Adam and Kristina's reaction when they realized the bra was Haddie's (get it off me, get it off me). But it also rang really true to me. The father/teen daughter relationship, the struggle about going back to work, the sibling relationships. I guess it might not click for everyone who isn't in the same place in life as these characters, but for those of us who are it's spot on.

DB said...

slowly but surely, the show is growing on me. didn't care for it in the beginning, but now i'm actually excited to watch the show.
There are some really bad parenting on the show...but i guess it's part of the show to see them grow. Sarah is really clueless about everything, and thank god they have the charming Lauren Graham to make the character likable.

Sunday said...

Sarah Ann Stinson said: "Also, show of hands: who else is getting strong Gilmore Girls vibes off the whole Lauren-Graham-takes-her-teenage-daughter-on-a-college-tour plot? Obviously Amber is not Rory - in fact, Amber may be the anti-Rory."

Actually I think the Sarah/Amber relationship is the anti-Lorelai/Rory relationship. And I think that Sarah and Amber have a much more believable and realistic relationship than the freakishly close bond between the Gilmore Girls. I find myself liking the character of Sarah much more more than Lorelai Gilmore, and believe me, I am a huge GG freak. Maybe it's because Lauren Graham is so likeable as this insecure "failure" as a parent that she's much more appealing than Lorelai, who in hindsight turns out to be annoying, self-centered and flighty.

Enjoying the entire show; obviously there are real parents writing this - only the parents of young children could completely sympathize with dealing with Jabbar's bathroom issues.

Sonia said...

@ sara Ann
I have a teenage daughter, and she will manipulate ANYTHING when she knows she's been I just laughed when Haddie tried to draw a parallel between her situation and Drew's.
I felt bad for Kristina -- she SO badly wants to feel like she's contributing something more than being a mom. But I think at this point in her life, she made the right decision. Her kids really need her now -- Haddie may not admit it, but she needs her mom now BIG time, and Max was just diagnosed. But Kristina sure looked snappy in that black suit.
I love the scenes when Julia, Sarah and Kristina are having girl talk -- hilarious.
Loved Peter Krause in this episode - between the "Fever" ( funny) and "get if off me, get it off me!", he was so great.

Anonymous said...

it's interesting how TV has changed. ten to fifteen yrs ago some of the dialogue in this show would be verboten, especially the recent comments about sarah's you-know-what in TWO episodes. likewise, Breaking Bad extends the bounds every week. if it's not walt hopping out of the shower, then it might be skyler manually manipulating walt to orgasm or the continued meme from hank about "bean-speak." i am stunned that the last one is aired at all. comparable remarks would NOT be allowed if it referred to blacks or asians.

scott said...

I think where you criticize the show for realism you're wrong on both counts. I know plenty of Dads who would react similarly to Adam about his fifteen year old daughter hauling off to the boyfriend's in lingerie. The most unrealistic part was his actually conceding the application of a double standard. And as for Julia's "crime scene", I can only think back to my father interrogating me for two solid weeks of rides to school over a matter of 73 cents removed from his dresser. It's just not uncommon for the type-A/power-driven parents to put up a fuss over a kids first big lie, and I think the only reason you bat an eye is that it was a mother rather than a father doing it.

Conversely, not many dad's dance that awfully and believe that it's good.