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The Telefile
<i>Parenthood</i>: This Week’s Chuckle, Cry and Cringe

During this winter break, I visited family and found myself not mentioning Parenthood when people asked for TV recommendations -- and not because I don't clearly love this show, but because I realized the individuals asking me have painfully lived through things we've watch the Bravermans endure, and it seems in very poor taste to tell my future mother-in-law whose own mother died of cancer not too long ago to tune in to Kristina fighting the battle. It begs the question: Is Parenthood a show for the privileged voyeur? Aside from the whole TV-as-escapism factor, I think there's an argument there with this show in particular. Then again, one of the reasons people love Parenthood as much as they do is because they've gone through some of the same emotions are the Bravermans, which can make our own lives feel less lonely, our issues less taboo and stigmatized and our problems more manageable (I see this a lot from fans in particular of Max's Asperger's, which, of course, makes sense). I've also had friends tell me that they can't stand Parenthood because they don't want to, say, watch Crosby and Jasmine sync their calendars when that's what they literally spent the week fighting with their spouse about. Can't win 'em all.

And on that note, I thought "Keep On Rowing" was a real stinker, which I find especially disappointing considering Dax Shepard directed it. We've obviously building some tension for the season finale on January 22, but nothing about this episode drew me in... with the exception of adorable guest star Ryan Hansen, who is currently wasting away over at 2 Broke Girls.

I'll get to the breakdown of "Keep on Rowing" in a second, but for the record, my season finale predictions based on this episode are this: Sarah and Hank will take a major step in their relationship (eloping, maybe?), Kristina will officially beat cancer and free us of this plotline, Crosby and Jasmine will get pregnant (I actually thought her big news here was going to be about that and not the predictable mom moving-in storyline), Drew and Amy will get pregnant (I've been saying this since last season!), Sydney will murder Victor and Amber will change her fading pink streak to a bold blue after Ryan officially disappears for good. Or at least some combinations of those things. (And OMG spoiler alert: I just watched next week's promo and feel like a freaking genius right now.)

Okay, let's do this:

Chuckle
Most of the Kristina stuff in this episode was -- and I've talked about this before -- very Sex and the City... because, well, everything she did in these 40 minutes, Samantha did in an entire season. At first that was fun; watching all the ladies get drunk and talk about Mark Cyr's schlong (their word, not mine), Kristina drunkenly shaving her head, us just knowing that she was totally Googling wigs the next day while fighting with Adam, "Max loves it; he says I look like Bane from the Batman movie," us getting to watch real-life couple Peter Krause and Lauren Graham (and yes, I will mention this every time I possibly can) go wig shopping, Kristina teaming with Amber to surprise Adam for once in his goddamn life, "'It's gonna feel like being with uh... you know...' 'With your wife.' 'Yeah, with my wife,'" Kristina pretending be 27 years old and then 34 (which was even less believable), Ryan Hansen's "Three kids? You put three in there?", Adam looking like a Don Draper/Merv Griffin hybrid (if only he acted out that entire Paul Rudd mirror scene from Wanderlust), "Think you can locate the Johnson file?" (which I actually said "Ew" out loud at, despite watching the episode alone), the subtle reference Funkytown -- but then of course the writers had to end our good times and make Kristina too tired to have sex. I get it: it's real, it's true to the story, but come on, throw these two a freaking bone here. (Pun intended.)

Oh, I also laughed out loud when Amber told Adam his schedule was clear, but then when Crosby needed his help organizing his office, he casually declared, "I can't help you, my whole afternoon is booked," and then gestured to his niece to keep her mouth shut.

Cry
I definitely didn't almost well up during "Keep on Rowing," but I felt bad for Sydney when Julia told her to shut up. I know I should feel bad for Julia but whatever, she's not my real mom.

Cringe
Sure, Sarah and Hank were cute and ate Chinese food on the floor and everything, but the dullness of their storyline overpowered the good parts, though I'm now convinced early morning croissants are the ultimate breakfast for the finally-together longtime couple in a complicated and tortured romance (other-show spoilers if you click through that link!).

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