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<i>Parenthood</i>: The Best and Worst Braverman Pairings of “Stay a Little Longer”

You know it's a heavy episode of Parenthood when All-American Rejects front man Tyson Ritter singing an original song called "Jasmine All the Time" is the least traumatizing thing to happen. "Stay a Little Longer" not only had us say goodbye to Ryan and Amber, presumably forever, but it also gave us a crumbling Joel declaring that he didn't want to work on his marriage with Julia. Just in case that didn't twist the knife enough, they also had Adam struggling with the realization that his son Max might go through life alone. Oh, and Sarah was there bellyaching to Hank and Hank was there bellyaching to Sarah and they both sucked up a whole lot of the show's precious hour with their "drama." I mean, couldn't the show, like, check in on Haddie during those times? She's gotta be up to something these days. The Bravermans seemed to have phased her out completely. Until then, here's the best and worst Braverman pairings from "Stay a Little Longer":

Best: Ryan and Amber
Oh, this pains me. This pains me bad. I fear this is the last time I'll ever write about an Amber and Ryan pairing because Jason Katims has deemed it necessary to send Matt Lauria off to war again. Ryan stuck to his guns (sorry) to re-enlist and when he tried to have a goodbye with Amber before taking off, she was not having it. I mean, can you really blame her? The always sage Zeek -- who had a nice, quiet, final heart-to-heart with Ryan -- told Amber she should say goodbye to him regardless of what he did. While she was initially super pissed at Zeek for worrying about Ryan's needs (can you really blame her?), Amber knew he was right and did, in fact, bid her love adieu. Their goodbye was tear-soaked and genuinely heartbreaking ("Come home safe, okay?" she pleaded with him, as Mae Whitman won the Emmys of our hearts) and we all may never recover from the collapse of Rymber.

Best: Joel and Julia
In a nasty one-two punch from Parenthood writers, they knocked down both Joel and Julia, too. When a desperate Julia tried to calmly explain to an already broken-spirited Joel her complicated relationship with Ed, it blew up in her face. Joel didn't take too kindly to the fact that Julia kept the kiss with Ed a secret, or that she had had an emotional affair with him. Later, when Julia suggests they go see a marriage counselor, Joel fired back that it's not their marriage that's the issue -- it's her. Joel said he feels distant from her and betrayed by her flippancy regarding the Ed ordeal and that the only reason he's staying with her is their kids. Leave it to good ol' Parenthood to drop an emotional anvil on you.

Best: Max and Adam
While the show has definitely explored the complicated dynamics of Max and his Asperger's, they usually show the struggle that the parents endure through Kristina's eyes. But last night had Adam, who is usually so positive and composed, feeling lost when he didn't know how to solve a problem for his son. After insulting and having a fight with his only friend Micah, Max found himself an outcast at school and more or less shut down. Adam did all he could to try and remedy the situation, but Kristina made him realize that Max was getting older and they couldn't solve all of his problems. But, Adam -- despite feeling helpless -- didn't give up on making his son happy (because he is the greatest dad on television) and rallied -- quite literally -- for a night out on the town to go to a basketball game. Adam and Kristina will always be Max's biggest cheerleaders and there was something so bittersweet about that.

Worst: Sarah and Hank
Why? Why are the Parenthood writers still pushing this partnership so hard? In the latest chapter of Sarah and Hank: Volume Oh God, Who Cares, Sarah snagged a high-profile photography gag (Karl got her in the door for an interview) and that really upset Hank, who also applied for the job but totally botched the interview. After a whole lot of annoying back-and-forth, Sarah recruited Hank to help her with the job she was wildly unqualified for. So, yeah, as long as Max and Hank are still pals and Sarah continues to rely on him for professional and emotional reasons, this isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Worst: Jasmine and Oliver
If there's anyone who has had more of an inexplicable amount of screen time than Hank, it's Oliver. A walking, talking "bad boy" front man cliché, Oliver plopped himself down on Jasmine and Crosby's couch after having a fight with a band and makes himself an unwelcome guest in no time. He taught Jabbar about the joys of smoking cigarettes, showed him Jaws and bragged about going to go "tuck a lady into bed." Jasmine was, understandably, annoyed with Oliver's presence but eventually hasda pep talk with him about following passions and not being scared to express yourself and your art (she was a dancer, remember.) The chat worked, and Oliver finally sucked it up and headed back into the studio. In other words, this was a totally pointless story line. But, worst of all was that Oliver got all wistful and penned a song called "Jasmine All the Time" (yeesh) and then sang it for Jasmine, Crosby, and Jabbar in their front yard (yeeeeeesh.)

Worst: Mean Girls and Horrible Bosses
It's a good thing Natalie didn't appear in this week's episode because they pretty much hit their bitchy quota last night. There was the gaggle of mean girl moms gossiping about Julia behind her back (and in front of it) about her Ed and Joel love triangle (Julia made sure to put them in their place, but it wasn't so much satisfying as it was uncomfortable for all parties involved, including viewers). Just in case that wasn't enough bitchiness, Pete scolded a depressed, distracted Joel for screwing up on the job and then told him, straight up, that she didn't care about his struggles in his personal life. There's no room for this bitchiness in the Braverman world!

Watch the full episode here:

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