Tuesday, January 8, 2013

'Parenthood' Review - 4.13 Small Victories

        On the newest episode of NBC's Parenthood, Drew and Amy receive life-changing news; Adam and Kristina have to help Max navigate through life as a teenager; Crosby is growing increasingly impatient with his mother-in-law, Renee; and Victor is confrontational towards Julia and Joel causing them to question their parenting abilities.

        Parenthood has most definitely never shied away from tackling controversial and provocative issues within its storytelling. The show has handled Asperger's, cancer, the loadedness of the N-word with such poise and grace without ever taking this world of the Braverman's outside the realm of reality. Teen pregnancy and abortion is yet another one of these strong topics that exist out in the world but most people - and conversely most TV shows - don't want to talk about. And yet, Parenthood once again showed its hand of how welled earned the whole story and its payoff were while systematically showing both sides of the stance without making anyone seem in the wrong. As much as I have come to love Drew and as strongly pro-Braverman this show is, I don't fault Amy and her decision at all. She did what she thought was best for herself and the program did an effective job at showcasing that point of view as well.
        It may just be because I see so very much of myself within the Drew character but every time he was on the screen I could feel his pain and my heart just completely broke for him - and I was openly weeping throughout it all as well. Every single moment in this story was pure perfection from Drew's internalized battling of the issue - which was perfection captured by Peter Krause's direction and Miles Heizer's performance, his best on the series to date - to that final moment of letting it all out to his mother. The only fault that I found with the handling of this issue was the fact that it was used to stir up more angst between Sarah and Mark. But that was such a minor facet, so I can't fault the series that much.
        Elsewhere, in the hour - where most of the Bravermans were isolated from one another and during their own stuff - Adam and Kristina also had to have a serious discussion with Max. And while, it did take a sharp turn of just awkwardness in that scene with Zeek and Camille, the rest of it was purely earnest. Much like the stuff with Drew, the show did an exceptional job of handling such a delight conversation. What was even more poignant was the fact that Max stopped his father from giving "that talk." It evolved from just the usual awkwardness into something much more special given everything we have invested in with this family. And in an episode of pure seriousness, how hilarious was that sequence of Max walking down the hallway with Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" playing?
        These last few weeks have been quite tumultuous in the Julia and Victor relationship. Early on, it became very evident that the point of everything happening was to get Julia to severely question whether or not she really wants to fully adopt Victor. While, at times, it did feel like it was taking a long time to get to this conclusion, once the show arrived there it was truly powerful to get those doubts externalized.
       In comparison to all the other dramatics going on with the rest of the families throughout the hour, Crosby's stuff with Renee could be seen as very petty. Is he seriously just angry over the fact that he can't go to the bathroom? But much like the Julia story, the plot ended on a creative sound note with that monologue from Renee over how her life has gotten to this moment and how overly picky she's being. Perhaps that was enough to get Crosby to see things differently but I'm intrigued to see how this story will be resolved over the last two episodes of the season.

So what did everyone think of the episode? Don't you just want to give Drew the biggest hug right now? Notice the title card of mature content preceding the hour? Did Crosby's petty drama with Renee detract value from the hour for you? Could the Victor stuff actually break up Julia and Joel? Share your thoughts in the comments.