Parenthood 5-11 Review – “Stay a Little Longer”

Last year, a Canadian TV network was airing Parenthood on Wednesday nights, making it easier for me to watch and review the show during the week. Unfortunately they haven’t done that so far in 2014, which means that it takes me a while to find time to watch the show. (In my time zone, it airs on Thursday nights at 11pm, which means I might not have a chance to watch it until Saturday morning. SO unfair.)

This week’s episode of Parenthood was so sad that it made me feel sick, but I also think that these first couple episodes of 2014 have been really well written and acted. The Joel and Julia stuff is heartbreaking to watch. I’m not using those words lightly, I really am finding it so painful. It feels so real, and Erika Christensen is killing it. The way that their marriage is crumbling is like this awful downward spiral that Julia is trying so desperately to stop, and Joel has given up on preventing. Can it even be prevented? If Joel has already checked out of the marriage, then I guess not.

Earlier in the season, it was tougher to relate to Julia and she was acting in a way that probably made her very unsympathetic to most viewers. She was lost after losing her job, had a special emotional bond with this other guy, wasn’t necessarily giving Joel the support he needed to take his turn as the main breadwinner of the family. But now, I feel like Joel is the one whose behavior is more unfair (like his refusal to see a marriage counselor) and striking that balance was probably important for the storyline.

This episode was rough on everyone. Amber and Ryan are officially done, and they both had some great stuff with Zeek this week. I didn’t love what I saw about Amber’s storyline in the scenes from next week, but it would also be pretty unrealistic to see her just bounce back from this heartbreak, good as new. I just hope the show isn’t recycling the “Amber acts irresponsibly and gets in a car accident” storyline from a few years ago.

I found Max’s storyline a little frustrating this week. Because Parenthood takes place in the Braverman universe we only ever see the Braverman perspective, and I find that is never more obvious than when we’re talking about Max. Max said some hurtful things to his friend about basketball and wheelchairs, and lost the friend. He was told to apologize and invite the kid to a basketball game, and it didn’t work. Of course, Adam and Kristina will be on Max’s side and will feel pain when Max feels pain. But… I felt like they undersold the seriousness of what Max had said. Telling a kid that playing basketball is stupid because he’s in a wheelchair can’t be explained as “you hurt his feelings”, and setting Max up to think that if you apologize everything will be fine isn’t right. What he said was offensive, and the things you say can’t always be taken back. It bugged me that Adam and Kristina seemed to surprised that Max’s apology hadn’t been accepted. I thought they should have prepared him for that possibility.

The Crosby and Sarah storylines this week were definitely lighter, but neither were one of my favorites for them. All in all, it was a great but difficult to watch episode. What did you guys think?