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SEASON PREMIERE RECAP & REVIEW: Parenthood “Family Portrait” S4 E1

12 Sep

This is absolutely one of my favorite shows on TV.  And every season, I can’t wait for its return.  The fourth season of Parenthood did not disappoint with a very touching episode that surprised me because I’ve never liked Haddie.  So let’s start there because there was a lot going on in this episode.

Haddie/Adam/Kristina/Max

I had a feeling Sarah Ramos wasn’t going to be back much this season once we learned she was off to Cornell.  I wasn’t all that upset either because I’ve never liked the character of Haddie.  I never liked how whiny she was and how selfish she could be.  Plus, everything is the world seemed to annoy the crap out of her.  She was written perfectly as a typical teenager and Ramos did a great job executing it to a tee.  Still doesn’t mean I have to like her!   Most of this episode revolved around Haddie leaving for college.  Here’s what I don’t understand.  This is the week before she leaves correct?  So why was Kristina and Adam trying to cram ten pounds of shit into a five-pound bag (as my husband loves to say?)  Obviously Haddie wants to spend time with her friends before she leaves and she should have the right to do that.  Why would you put shopping, parties, family visits, and immediate family time all within the course of this one week?   Couldn’t you have spread it out over the summer?  It was already going to be stressful enough for all of you that week leading to Haddie heading East.   Why make it that much more stressful on all of you?

One of my biggest pet peeves about Parenthood (really the only one) is how the show always has people talking over each other.  I hate it.  It’s one of my biggest pet peeves in reality because I don’t think there is anything ruder than talking and having someone completely disregard the fact that you are speaking and begin to speak over you.  It’s as if that person is saying “what you’re saying is so insignificant and has so little value, that I am going to begin speaking because I couldn’t care less what you have to say.”   Sorry for the mini soap box, but it had to be said.  So when it happens in Parenthood, it drives me bonkers.  Adam/Kristina/Haddie/Max have always been the worst about this on the show.  Every scene they are in it’s as if 2-3 different conversations are going on.  It’s hard to follow and not the least bit entertaining.  The scene at the burger place was awful.  First, if you want to take Haddie out to celebrate her, why not ask her where she wants to go?  Second, knowing you have a son with Aspberger’s, wouldn’t you call the restaurant ahead of time to make sure they serve the same burger that your son always gets?  You know what will happen if they don’t and if you’re trying to make a nice family outing, keeping Max in check would be a good idea.  Third, how dare Kristina yell at the people behind them.  You all know I love her character but this bothered me.  Your son is pitching a fit, your oldest daughter and yelling back at him, and your youngest baby has just burst into screaming tears.  When the man turned to look at them, Kristina yelled to have him mind his own business because that wasn’t his family.  Well guess what?  When your family disrupts other people’s families from enjoying their meals, they have the right to give you the stink eye.  If you don’t like it, then make sure all hell doesn’t break loose when you go out to dinner.  I’m not saying it’s easy and I can appreciate how challenging it can be.  But you also can’t be upset with other people who may be annoyed that your family is keeping them from having a quiet, enjoyable meal.

Even with those few annoyances, overall, it was a really sweet episode for these guys.  One of the things I think the show highlighted beautifully is just how difficult it is on the sibling of a child with Aspberger’s.  We always see and hear about the parents view-point, but it’s nice to see how hard this has been on Haddie.  Haddie tries to have a nice moment with Max telling him how much she will miss him and loves him and that she appreciates his special qualities of honesty and directness.  She even gives him a present to let him know how much she cares.  But you see her get nothing back from Max.  That has to be hard and I thought Haddie handled herself very well.   Haddie always has to be the bigger person and when her parents don’t always discipline Max the way they should (like the way the blew off him destroying her room to look for his lizard) it’s hard to not want to take it out on him and it’s understandable when she does lose it.

We also got to see Kristina’s side of her baby girl going off to college.  You see how she really wanted some girl time with her daughter before she leaves.  She really puts it in perspective when she says “she’s never going to live here again.”  Actually, that’s a good thing.  You should want your child to be self-sufficient and independent.  It’s a sign they’ll be ok.  But from a mother’s view-point, her baby is grown up and moving on.  And while she’s thrilled for her, it crushes her at the same time because everything is moving to a new stage in their lives.

The scene that really got me, was the final scene.  Even though I knew it was coming, it still got me.  Haddie is at the airport about to board her flight and her parents are keeping it together (Adam’s just fine but Kristina is really trying hard to be strong and not cry) and Haddie is also very stoic.  But as soon as Haddie gets in line, she runs back to her parents, crying her eyes out, and gives them a huge hug.  It was awesome.  And I was so happy for Adam and Kristina because they got their reassurance that Haddie is going to miss them just as much as they will miss her.  Oh man, did I cry!!!

Crosby/Jasmine/Jabbar

I’m still not happy Crosby and Jasmine are married but I guess I’ll get over it at some point.  But I thought their story of the week was very interesting.  Crosby noticed Jabbar praying and wasn’t quite sure how he felt about that.  When Jasmine and Crosby confronted her mom about it, I loved seeing them as a united front and on the same page.  It was the first sign to me that I could start to like Jasmine again because that shows she’s grown.  Before she would have taken her mother’s side but not this time.  She and Crosby were a team and told her mom that something that significant should really be up to them to teach Jabbar.  And I agree with them 100%!  But her mom had a great response…then what do you plan on telling him and teaching him because he deserves to know something.  And she’s right.

Crosby goes to see his mom and dad and asks them about their spiritual background and how they handled this with them.  I was conflicted about this because in one sense, shouldn’t Crosby know his parents view points on religion and spirituality?  Wouldn’t that have already been discussed and wouldn’t he know the results of those conversations?  In another sense, I really respected how Crosby took this seriously.  Seriously enough to go to his parents and ask their advise since they didn’t grow up in a house where religion was prevalent.  He and Jasmine talked about it and he asked her what about her religious upbringing did she like.  Now of course Crosby said something that made me want to smack him upside the head (he’s usually good for at least one of those per episode) which was “well I don’t want my son belonging to some club I’m not apart of.”    Oh really?  So if Jabbar wants to be on the football team or a mathlete or part of the German club or drama club, you won’t let him because you won’t be part of it too?   That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!    Ultimately, I think Crosby made the right decision and followed his mom’s advise in letting Jabbar figure out for himself what religion and spirituality will mean to him.   It’s a fascinating debate because can children really figure that out for themselves?  Probably not.  But there is nothing wrong with opening him up lots of different faith-based religions, learning about them, understanding them, and letting them choose which speaks the most to them…especially if religion isn’t a huge presence in your life.

Sarah/Mark/Amber/Drew

I’ll run through this part quickly.  I’m not sure why Mark was brought back.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Jason Ritter.  But it’s pretty well-known that he’s going to be in another show mid-season that Jason Katims is creating specially for him.   So he’s not going to be around.  At this point, I don’t know why Sarah just couldn’t have denied the proposal off-screen and she comes back this season single.   I though his speech to Camille was sweet about being in the picture but at the same time I was just screaming at my TV: “come on!!”  It’s a picture!!!!  I can see if other fiances were included in the picture and now he isn’t but Kristina wasn’t allowed in until she and Adam were married.  Jasmine wasn’t allowed in.  So why should it be any different?  I don’t agree with Camille’s stance, but if that’s her decision, so be it.  She should have held her ground.  Seriously though, I can see not wanting random girlfriends and boyfriends in the picture but fiances?  That doesn’t make any sense to me.  And what if one of her children didn’t believe in marriage and lived like Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell?  Does that make the significant other any less family?  I think not.  Also, why not take two pictures?  One with mom, dad, and the kids and one with mom, dad, kids, significant others, and grandkids?

Sarah is searching for a new job outside of bartending and when scheduling the photographer for the family picture, noticed a Help Wanted picture in the window.  She asks Hank Rizzoli (guest star Ray Romano) if she can put her hat in the ring for the job.  I have to say, I wasn’t thrilled with the addition with Ray Romano because I was not a fan of his.  I never found him particularly funny and I hated his sitcom.  So I was nervous. I am shocked to say that I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed his character.  I liked his banter with Sarah.  I thought they had a nice connection…he’s the grumpy curmudgeon while she’s the bubbly, aloof, optimist.  She has no experience and she lies to get the job.  It fails horribly (from a logistical standpoint) but the family loved her and Hank couldn’t help but notice how great she was with the clients.  So he decides to hire her full-time to be the client liaison while she learns more about the photography business.  And I like where this is going!

Amber continues to make bad decisions but I don’t care because I love her character.  But I do have to ask, what happened to her job with Kristina?  I thought she was seeing that through and now she’s working at the Luncheonette?  I hope that gets explained (and I hope Kristina still has her job!)  But she sleeps with the lead singer of this band only to find out he has a girlfriend.  She tells Crosby, who tells Adam, who decides to fire the band.   (Loooooooooooooooong deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep breath and siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.)  I was with Amber, I can’t believe Adam fired a paying customer because he upset Amber.  If anything, he should have been upset with Amber for AGAIN mixing work and pleasure to disasterous circumstances.  But at the same time, I LOVED how protective he was of her.  Ultimately, she’s still his niece.  And as he explained to Crosby who was giving Adam a hard time “you don’t have a daughter.”  I get that.  I still think it was absurd that a 20-year-old with no business experience had to explain to a 40+ year old with 20+ years of business experience that he can’t make business decisions on his personal feelings.  But I still loved the scene with Peter Krause and Mae Whitman.

Drew, kind of bores me.  I don’t know if it’s the character or the actor, but Drew is a drip.  I’m sorry.  And it looks like Amy will be breaking his heart next week.

Joel/Julia/Victor/Sydney

Wow, this is tough.  Joel and Julia are really struggling incorporating Victor into the family.  I like this storyline because I think it’s fascinating to see how you bring a child into your family who is much older.  I would guess Victor is around 7-8 years old?  So Victor has thoughts, feelings, and opinions already developed.  This isn’t something J&J can develop from scratch like they did with Sydney.  I can’t even imagine how difficult that is.  And I can appreciate the predicament of letting Victor do things they wouldn’t normally do to make him feel loved and wanted yet needing to discipline him to the point that you are truly treating him like family (to Joel’s point.)  How do you know that line?  When is the right time to stand up and say you’re in my house you need to live by my rules?   Each kid is different so how do you know?    And it just broke my heart when Julia said “I’m trying to fall in love with my son.”   You can see this is killing her.  You can see how badly she wants this but it’s hard.

I have no doubt this will work out because I think J&J are great people who want this child to have a great life.  But the process to get there will be amazing to watch.  And I’m sure it will get worse before it gets better.

Whew!!!  What a premiere!  I know it sounds like I’m being really hard on the show.  Maybe I am, but I just love it so much that when there is something I don’t like, it usually hits me harder than it should!  The ratings have me nervous, they always do so I hope Parenthood continues to have enough of a following to last a few more seasons.  Because I LOVE the Bravermans!!!

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