It’s dumb to say that Parenthood is having a good season. It ALWAYS has a good season. But there are a few story lines that really hit home with me so I’m going to touch on the big ones.
Joel and Julia
This was the couple that historically was kind of on the back burner in regards to the Braverman crew. There is always Sarah’s drama (and Amber and Drew have had lots of story lines.) Crosby and Adam are always front and center. Then there was Julia. Granted last year they got more juicy material with them adopting Victor after trying to have another baby, Julia losing her job, Joel going back to work. They were getting more into the Braverman story line flow. But no matter what was going on with Joel and Julia, like Adam and Kristina, they were solid. Then this season hit. What was once the second strongest relationship on the show (behind Adam and Kristina) is now disintegrating before our eyes.
In the last two episodes, Joel has become more suspicious of Julia’s relationship with Ed. It got ugly last week when Joel punched Ed at a school function because Julia was trying to calmly ask a very drunk Ed to leave her alone and he wouldn’t. So Joel stepped in and not so calmly took care of it. It led to a painful exchange where Joel asked Julia if they were having an affair and she said no. Let’s discuss that for a minute. Do you guys think what she had with Ed constituted as an affair? I don’t and here’s why. While I do believe you can have an affair that doesn’t have any physical component whatsoever, I don’t think that totally happened here. Julia and Ed really started as just friends. That’s all. And becoming a good friend with someone of the opposite sex (or same-sex if you’re gay) does not automatically mean you are having an emotional affair. Let’s clear that up. But I do think that it was starting to cross a line and may have crossed (I’m taking before the kiss) that line but I think as soon as Julia started to realize what was going on, she stopped it. Granted I wouldn’t have done it the way she did, going over to his house I think sends a confusing message, which resulted in a kiss, but I think her intention was to cut it off. See to me, an affair is something you choose to do over a period of time even knowing what you are doing is wrong. Whether it’s physical or not, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum and it doesn’t happen over night. It’s a long process with two willing participants. Are there jerks who cheat for no reason? Sure there are. But I think there is a difference between cheating and an affair. Cheating is solely physical. An affair is emotional, physical, spiritual…it’s a complex issue signifying a greater problem in an established relationship. I know it may sound like semantics and for some people whether you call it cheating or an affair it’s the same thing and I understand that. But for me, I think it’s two different things. In this case the Julia/Ed thing hasn’t been going on that long. They were just friends at first. I don’t think it was until the last month that Julia felt something more. And while she liked being around someone she could talk to and someone who understood exactly what she was going through, once it started to become more and that Joel was making an effort at home, she decided this had to stop. I also think she was confused and alone and made some very bad judgement calls that I’m sure she’d like to take back. But I don’t think I’d call it a full-blown affair. I think it was a friendship that started to turn deeper because of her lack of connection at home as when it did, she ended it. She should have ended it without a kiss but once that happened, she completely blocked Ed from her life. And to be fair, she wasn’t completely honest with Joel when she said Ed kissed her and there was nothing back from her. I don’t think so girlfriend! You kissed Ed right back for a little while so don’t pretend it was all him. But hey, at least she told Joel the truth in that the kiss happened.
Joel and Julia have had many gut wrenching scenes this year but her telling Joel about how unhappy she’s been and what happened between her and Ed and how the friendship evolved, was so sad. But the worst was when she told him about the kiss. You can tell this was killing her because she knew she was going to break her husband’s heart. She looked like she was going to vomit all over the table and I was right with her because I knew what was coming. It was awful. And then to see Joel and how crushed he was and then how angry he was…it was devastating. And I don’t blame him. For the hurt he’s feeling, for the anger he has towards Julia, if I were in his shoes, I’d be the same way. I can only imagine that nothing can prepare you for hearing your spouse tell you they kissed another person. So what happens now? Julia wants to go to counseling and Joel has said he’s done and that their marriage isn’t worth saving. Ouch. I really believe at this point he’s just so hurt and angry (and rightfully so) that he doesn’t want any part of Julia or their life together, except for the kids. I have to believe (or maybe it’s my wishful thinking) that they will work this out. It won’t be this season for sure. But maybe next season by the end, they are working their way back to one another and they’ll be stronger for it. Fingers crossed!
I have to say, the way the writers have handled this is brilliant. It’s not your typical cheating, soap opera story line. This is how it goes down in the real world. And in the real world, good couples and good people make bad choices and then have to deal with the consequences. Some work through it with a lot of hard work and dedication and find a way to rebuild their marriage. Others, it’s too painful and too hard because the trust is broken and they just can’t get it back. So they have to move on. And that happens. I just hope in the case of J&J, the former happens instead of the latter. But I’m scared because Katims seems to be the kind of guy that wants to take a hard road in a story line if it makes sense. He hasn’t yet. When Crosby and Jasmine had their issues and broke up, they got back together (ugh.) When Kristina had cancer, she beat it and survived. When Amber spiraled out of control, an accident happened but not too bad she couldn’t recover. Nothing catastrophic has happened…yet. So why do I have a bad feeling and J&J might be the first big casualty of Parenthood? I hope I’m wrong but I just have a bad feeling.
The story lines that focus on Max’s Aspberger’s Syndrome (AS) are so hard for me because I don’t have a family member or friend with that condition and the last thing I want to do is to come off ignorant or insensitive. But I do want to discuss the handling of Max from Adam and Kristina’s standpoint. But it’s hard because I can’t figure out if how Adam and Kristina are handling the situation with Max, is the correct way or not. I understand that when Max does something awful (like he did with Micah) it’s because he doesn’t understand the emotional impact of his actions. But his parents do. Is trying to fix it with tickets to basketball game really the answer? Isn’t it better (although harder) to explain to Max that when he is so honest, he can then hurt someone’s feelings or offend them greatly because not everyone sees things the way Max does. And as a result, he could lose friends. I mean I don’t want the boy to be afraid to try to make a friend again, but can he intelligently understand that point? I don’t know. I’ve tried to find some forums and blogs of parents with Aspie kids who may watch Parenthood to see what their take is. Mostly I find that these parents hate the show and think that what Adam and Kristina are doing with Max is wrong. That wasn’t always the case, there were some sites where people were very positive on the show and EVERYONE raves about Max Burkholder’s portrayal. The big issue is Adam and Kristina and quite frankly, that’s always been my question. Not being a parent I can only assume that parenting a child with AS is much different from parenting a neurotypical (NT) child (a child without a form of autism.) But, if you’ve read any of my other posts on Max, Adam, and Kristina, I always question just how forgiving parents of Aspie’s should be when it comes to behavior. Because I don’t know. I watch the things Max does and says and I wonder how Adam and Kristina allow him to behave that way. Some I understand he can’t control but does that give Max the right to behave however he chooses? According to some of these sites I’ve read, it doesn’t.
In the case of last week with Micah, Max told him basketball was stupid and that Micah was an idiot for wanting to play because he’s in a wheelchair so he can’t play. Adam’s resolution was ok then apologize and invite him to a basketball game and it will all be ok. What? Is he kidding? I understand he wants to protect his son. I understand he doesn’t want to see Max lose his only friend. I get that. But like Kristina told him, they can’t always clean up his problems for him. At some point he has to realize there are consequences to his behavior and I don’t think Adam and Kristina have always taught him that. Adam has to realize that Micah, who is a NT, isn’t going to be willing to forgive someone who was so rude and offensive to him and that bribing him with tickets to a Warriors game, isn’t going to cut it. But instead of teaching Max this lesson, he tries to just make it go away. How is this good for Max? How is this going to set him up in the future to be able to cope with more challenging circumstances…like if he has as job and says the wrong thing and gets fired. Then what? He won’t have the coping skills to work through it.
It’s also why I think this relationship with Hank has to stop. I used to think it was good for Max and now I don’t think it is. When Max was telling Hank about the situation with Micah, Hank agreed with Max. That is not what Max needs to hear right now, especially not from an adult. Max needs to understand that you cannot speak to people who way. But Hank is basically telling him that he’s right and Micah’s wrong. NOOOOOO!! Not the message that should be sent! But we’re starting to see Hank tangle with his own inner demons wondering if he’s a long-lost Aspie himself. And with all due respect, while I think it would be fascinating to see an undiagnosed adult learn about having AS 40+ years later, I just don’t want to see it. I don’t. I don’t mind Hank as a fringe character but not as a character with his own story line. I just don’t need that right now. And Max doesn’t need Hank right now. I think Adam and Kristina need to get Max back with a one on one counselor (like they had with Minka Kelly’s character) and get him back on the right track. Because if things keep going this way, Max is going to be a very lonely person one day. If Adam thinks his heart is breaking now, try watching your adult AS son that you didn’t help, that you didn’t give coping skills to, struggle in his adult life because you didn’t handle him in the way that was best for him because it was too hard for you. That will be a tough pill to swallow.
In other news, Amber initially wants nothing to do with Ryan anymore and coldly (but understandably) shows him the door and asks him to go as fast as he can. After Ryan and Zeek talk, Zeek goes to Amber and tells her that while she’s hurt, she does love him and should at least say good-bye to him. Eventually Amber does just that and we have a very tearful good-bye to a character I liked very much. He isn’t ready to be with Amber right now and this whole wedding thing was happening too fast. But it sucks it had to end like that. I guess it could have been worse. Just please, please, PLEASE…don’t kill him over there. I don’t think Amber could survive that.
Sarah got a job as a photographer with Surf Shop, or something like that, with a little help from hottie Dr. Carl and from the fact that Hank was so obnoxious in his interview that the contact for Surf Shop didn’t want to work with him. Problem is, she has no equipment, studio, or experience. So she goes to Hank for help and he’s a real douchbag about it. He makes her admits she’s in over her head and makes her pay him 50/50 of the job. I understand he doesn’t do charity work but you know what, you lost the job because of your attitude. At least the person who got the job has a connection with you and has asked that you work together so you’ll be getting something instead of nothing for the gig. Sarah hasn’t always been my favorite character because of her choices and the way she handles things drive me crazy, but she’s been much better this season and I think she’s really trying to make a career for herself. So what that it’s a bigger job than she’s ready for and who cares how she got it. She has a chance to prove herself and make a name for herself. And Hank made her feel bad about it. Screw you Hank. If I were Sarah, I would have gone to another photographer and worked with them instead. Or, spent some money and got the equipment and started studying hard to get as prepared as possible for the job. Nothing beats experience but she doesn’t need Hank.
That’s pretty much the big stuff. What are you thinking of Parenthood? What do you think about this whole J&J story line? What do you think about the way Adam and Kristina are handling Max? Are you sad about Amber and Ryan? Are you hoping Sarah succeeds? Sound off below!