The Telefile
Parenthood: This Week's Chuckle, Cheer and Cry

Fair warning: It's kind of hard to read some of the notes I wrote during "There's Something I Need to Tell You..." because I'm bad at typing while hysterically crying. I probably shouldn't have watched a bunch of Google Chrome commercials before Parenthood came on (especially not this one), so that's partly my fault, but also this episode was basically a solid 40-odd minutes of heartstrings-pulling.

Parenthood seems to be getting better by the week at this point. The biggest complaint I've heard about this season is that it's been too close to real life and therefore not entertaining, and frankly, I don't think that's a bad reason to not watch the show. Last night's episode took everything out of me because I am that much of a baby, but also because the moments of tears came from every direction, and it all felt pretty well-earned. But before I get into every single thing that was ugly-cry-inducing, I would like to point out that I didn't do much cringing in "I Need to Tell You," and to give credit where credit is due, I'll be replacing Cringe with Cheer this week -- suck on that, Mark.

Aside from occasionally forgetting that family members exist (sorry, Drew), the writers are good at remembering to incorporate every small detail they ever added to this show -- take the Luncheonette finance plotline, for example. Obviously it was a little manipulative to drop this bomb when we knew very well that Adam was in no state to talk about much of anything, but it does make sense that this would be a natural point in time for Crosby to talk about adjusting his salary. I thought every actor involved played this off well, especially in the scene where Crosby and Adam awkwardly talked at Victor's baseball game. The Luncheonette is one of the only things in Adam's life that he has some control over these days, and therefore work has become something he can fix and make right (though he had to lash out at Amber a few weeks ago to really learn this lesson -- whoops!). I laughed out loud when Crosby was shocked that his spiel actually worked and walked away with his sunglasses on, just a tiny bit confused.

I also really liked it when Zeek invited Veteran Ryan to a baseball game, to which Ryan excitedly asked, "Giants in town?" and Zeek responded, "Somethin' like that." Their plotline felt very heavy-handed to me up until that moment, but thanks to some quality Camille time (and what it eventually led to, which I'll get to in a second), the payoff was worth it.

In terms of laughing when I wasn't meant to, the phone conversation with Haddie and Adam totally took me out of the drama for a few shots -- especially the one where we saw a hilariously fake Cornell backdrop out of Haddie's dorm room window. (And did anyone else pick up on some weird accent Haddie talked with? I feel like the way she said her A's was supposed to be symptomatic of living in Ithaca, or something.) Also, I think this may have had something to do with the lighting in the scene, but all I could see was the pound of makeup on Peter Krause's face. Let's just say Adam doesn't take to blush very well.

Okay, and I love Sydney these days. Savannah Paige Rae is barely ten years old, but the girl can act. She played indignant excellently, and I giggled when she threw some serious shade at Julia with "You never missed my recital before." Burn!

Hank and Sarah shippers rejoice: It doesn't get better than the sexy darkroom scene -- Ruby's photo isn't the only one who needed a stop bath after that kiss, huh, Sarah? Seriously, though, I actually gasped when Hank went in for the kill, and I love that Camille is totally going to be right for not wanting Mark to be in that family portrait. Lauren Graham and Ray Romano played the subsequent scenes nicely, and even though I totally hate Mark, seeing him sweetly sleep in the pullout couch with Sarah made the tension that much juicer.

And speaking of couples: Amber and Ryan! I'm all for another Friday Night Lights alumnus being on Parenthood, but what I'm most happy about is the fact that his plotline actually went somewhere beyond Zeek's deathly grip of encouragement. It potentially means Camille storylines in our future, and a whole lot more Amber -- who, by the way, was also lovely in her scene with Max about what it means to be a grown-up. It's always great to see those two together, even if their talk was a bit on-the-nose this episode.

Of course, Victor's inside-the-park home run was a little obvious and corny, but I was so tired of everyone being sad that this was a welcome pick-me-up. I cheered more than I laughed, but I will say that Zeek pulling the veteran card on behalf of Ryan ("He risked his life to make sure we can play baseball on American soil!") was pretty brilliant.

For the sake of what little dignity I have left, here's a list of every single thing that made me at the very least tear up. Too much more detail and I'll lose all of my street cred:

- Amber coming into Kristina's house and making eye contact with her.
- Julia just looking at all of her work with this horribly overwhelmed face.
- Kristina and Adam calling Haddie.
- Haddie crying, "I'm so far away!"
- Julia playing the ol' nine-year-old-adopted-son card (classic!). (Seriously, though: poor Jules.)
- Drag Queen Adam telling Stupid Backdrop Haddie the medical details of Kristina's cancer.
- Haddie asking her dad how he's doing, and then the look on his face.
- Kristina and Adam telling Max about the cancer, and then him not really responding, which was almost worse. (But you knew he was going to go online and research it for hours later, to be fair.)
- Julia having a panic attack while cooking breakfast, and crying to Joel, "I can't do it!"
- Victor's baseball win, natch.
- Julia leaving her job of nine years instead of... giving up her new nine-year-old son. (Okay, it felt a lot more possible that she was thinking about giving back Victor before I had to write it in print. Just me?)
- Max connecting with Victor, via the great American pastime of Sabermetrics.
- Haddie coming into the pizza place (though, how did she know that's where everyone was?), thus crushing my soul.
- Kristina standing up, making Amber take the little ones away, and then silently telling her family she has cancer then and there.

This season has been really liberal with using sad music in place of actual dialogue in order to emotionally manipulate the audience, but screw it. I'm just glad I have two weeks to recover until her surgery in the next episode.




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The Telefile

March 2014


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