The Telefile
Parenthood: This Week’s Chuckle, Cry and Cringe

Do you think Kristina is going to die? I don't know, y'all. A few episodes ago, I would have given you a definite "no," but there are only six episodes left in this season (unless NBC orders more) and I'm starting to think that if the Parenthood writers believe this is the end, they'll go out with a bang and the saddest final silent montage in the history of this show. Maybe with Bob Dylan's "Simple Twist of Fate" playing over Adam coming home from his wife's funeral? I'm getting a tiny bit emotional just thinking about it, though to be clear I really just want her to get better and for her next storyline to be about like, I don't know, deciding to go back to school to become a nurse.

Until then, we're left with episodes like "You Can't Always Get What You Want" that build up to drama that you know is about to screw everyone over but ends with putting the pieces in slightly higher-staked positions. I feel bad for Crosby and The Luncheonette and didn't see the storyline coming at all, but everything else this week was a little bit predictable. Let's get to it and talk about what worked:

Before it got all Stepmom on us, the Max storyline was pretty hilarious -- of course he immediately discovered filibustering, you know? I also like that Parenthood always treats young characters with dignity and actually casted middle school-looking kids and gave them a believable scene. And before his plot also got sad, comedy props also goes to Ryan, who made me laugh when he gave Zeek a hard time on their mock interview, asking what encyclopedias were and coldly stating how fast he could assemble a gun. (Okay, that sounds a little less funny in print.)

But the winner of "Funniest Guy Before His Storyline Turned Depressing" was obviously Crosby -- the highlight of the episode for me was his talk with Julia, which ended in a cute little reveal that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich she was making was for her adult brother (who then asked for milk!) and not one of her kids. As for the rest of his stuff with Pamela Adlon's character (who, by the way, should totally introduce Crosby to her husband who would have to be played by Louis CK in what would be my ultimate dream TV-crossover episode), nothing quite falls into the chuckle, cry or cringe categories, but I do want to point how much I enjoyed it from a critical level. Julia's excellent and practical advice obviously wasn't going to fly with Crosby, and it was fun to watch that play out over a gift basket, but what made the plot especially compelling was the not exactly subtle undertones regarding gentrification in The Haight. I don't want the writers to earnestly try a whole urban renewal storyline or anything, but it was interesting to follow here.

Nothing made me bawl, but naturally Amber, Ryan and Zeek once again choked me up, as they do. And seriously, I have watched my VHS copy of Stepmom enough times to know that when a woman in a bathrobe puts on old music and wants to dance with her child, you best have a tissue handy. I'm slightly more convinced than ever that they're going to kill Kristina off when we get scenes like the ones she had in this episode where she's actually just awesome and sweet (and totally still smoking weed!). I kind of wish that the writers didn't have to give us all of their characters' exposition through conversations and arguments with each other, but at least they know how to write how people actually talk, and anything that leads us to the scene where Adam talked to Max about going to the dance for Kristina is fine by me. For now, anyway.

Julia is usually one of my favorite members of the family, but her plotlines this season are just awful. Come on, the second you saw her making that homemade pasta, the episode basically had a 24-style countdown clock until Joel yelled at her (quite handsomely, I should add) for not respecting him and her admitting through tears that she's not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom.

I'll tell you what countdown will never end: Sarah's love triangle with Hank and Mark. I totally thought Sarah was going to kiss him when she was really just going to take off of his glasses and that Hank was going to admit he loved her while drunk -- and so did they, clearly -- but the fact that we just got another episode of budding sexual tension while Mark grows increasingly pissed was mostly just boring. I don't know exactly what's going to happen between the three of them, but I do feel quite confident that my fears will come to life and that Drew is totally going to get Amy pregnant by the end of the season. Ooh, maybe Kristina will be better by then and she can be her midwife? Just throwing that out there, writers!

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