I'm not going to spend too much time on the fact that I totally called it three different times, but I hate everything about the reveal of Amy's pregnancy except for the whole me being a genius factor. I loathe when shows punish consenting teens for having sex or drinking; it feels like some weird leftover Puritan punishment from leftover "Very Special Episodes" from outdated sitcoms.
Still, I really enjoyed "Small Victories." Every Braverman (except Haddie, I guess) got a moment in the sun without it feeling too forced and we now have a potential Max being gay storyline. (That's not just in my head, right?) In theory, we only have two more episodes of Parenthood ever, but I am kind of in denial and choose to believe that NBC is going to give it a late-round renewal. Waiting until September doesn't sound so bad when cancellation is our other option. Gulp. Until then, let's celebrate our own small victories:
I probably shouldn't put this out there in writing attached to my real name, but when Kristina walked into Max's room asking what that horrible smell was, I was pretty sure we had a masturbation storyline on our hands and not just a "boy becoming a man" one. In any event, Max reaching puberty made for a terrific storyline (after making me gag) -- Adam and Kristina got to do something non-cancer-related without it being so hard and Max Burkholder broke my heart a little bit with telling his dad that he wished "people could shed their skins like lizards." If Max is gay, it would be kind of genius on the writers' part and I think that Burkholder would easily rise to the occasion. (Off topic: did you know Max Burkholder's full name is Maxwell Henry Wolf "Max" Burkholder?)
Still, it was this storyline was more funny than sad thanks to Kristina calling Adam's half triathlon "mini" and later bribing Max with Skittles at the most perfect time possible, Camille and Zeek dropping by to chat about public hair and hormones ("Do you ejaculate, Grandpa?" "Whenever he possibly can."), "I washed my armpits, my butt and my balls with soap like Dad said," and also that cute interaction with Adam and Crosby where the latter screened his mother-in-law's calls. So good.
Speaking of Crosby, I didn't like that this storyline turned into an older woman being too proud to get an unfulfilling job during the recession, but I've decided to deem it more Chuckle than Cringe thanks to Crosby peeing in the backyard and having open disdain for Jasmine's brother and Renee.
Since there was no final installment of sad music playing over silent dialogue, I didn't know when I was supposed to cry, so I didn't. That being said, I felt what you humans call "empathy" when Drew asked Amber for abortion money and they cried and hugged... and it's not that I didn't feel bad for poor Drew, but I mostly got choked up because Amber cannot have one damn day of rest in her beautiful lifetime. Drew sobbing to Sarah at the end was sweet, too.
You know, maybe Mark and Sarah's storyline would have resonated with me more had NBC not spoiled it for me in the promos with the scene where Mark tells Sarah, "I feel like I gave up too easily, I should have fought for you." (They totally did this to us with Amy's pregnancy storyline, too. Lame!) Fortunately Hank being jealous did make this plotline work a little better, but I was more bored than interested on the whole.
And obviously, obviously I cringed the whole way through the Victor storyline -- and not only because I was supposed to. Victor dramatically falling off the bed was the stupidest thing ever, made clear by the fact that --and I can't believe I'm saying this -- Desperate Housewives did "bad kid calling 911 on good adoptive parent" much more organically. And though I did enjoy all of the anti-Burger King pancakes sentiments (McDonald's breakfast for life!), sexy Joel yelling at Victor and the new realization that Joel and Julia still have the option to not go through with the adoption, my pessimism leads me to believe that this is all a tease. If not, that's pretty fascinating and deliciously dark, even for this show.
I sometime have a hard time critiquing Parenthood in a fair way because the Bravermans' politics and beliefs are directly in line with mine. I'm sure a lot of people watched this episode and felt disappointed that it was so relatively cavalier about abortion (assuming Amy actually did get one), but as a liberal feminist (like I needed to tell you that), I thought the trips to Planned Parenthood, the open dialogue and the writers allowing this to be Amy's choice over Drew's were subtle and powerful, and only slightly derailed by Amy's dad being a dead ringer to Kenny Bania.
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