Written by Duana
Welcome to the inaugural Parenthood recap! A few months ago on this site I wrote a Parenthood Primer (click here) but when we decided to do these recaps, Parenthood immediately went on hiatus for a few weeks.
Now we’re back. Calling this recap “Braverman Sauce” is a nod to Dax Shepard who has been reassuring fans on his Twitter that the show would return – at least for the rest of the season.
So: Previously on Parenthood, Erika Christensen’s Julia was not pregnant, despite having tried with Hot Husband Joel for four months. Sarah was up all night writing, despite having never done so before, Amber talked to her mom’s boss’s friend Carly about going to Berkeley, Gaby quit working with Max because Crosby slept with her, and Jasmine can’t even look at him because of what he did to the family.
OK. We look at Julia from below. She’s looking at her watch. Pregnancy test POV! Her readout says ‘not pregnant’. She is not pleased, but when she breezes downstairs where Hot Joel is getting daughter Sydney ready for school, she’s breezy, even though he’s disappointed. Maybe they should get his ‘fish’ checked out. He gives her a truly incredulous look, and Julia’s setting him up an appointment, and he avers that “my fish are fine’.
Over at Adam Braverman’s, Kristina hangs up from a phone call and alerts Adam –it’s Max’s school who wants to talk. Because it’s Kristina, this is a crisis. Adam also immediately jumps to the conclusion that something terrible is going to happen and though they pretend everything will be fine, they worry.
My Favourite Bedroom – Amber is fussing over whether to wear ‘Aunt Julia’ dress or ‘a corny librarian’. Basically her mother makes fun of her for going to the corporate world. Apparently she’s interning at Julia’s law firm. Whatever. This is all predicated on Sarah assuming Amber’s a shoo-in at Berkeley.
Which is interrupted because Zeke, patriarch and occasional blowhard, has taken Sarah’s play into the bathroom to read. Obligatory squawking about how this is gross, at which point Amber wants to know all about the play and, like a teen, needs to know whether she’s in it.
School. Crosby covered for Jasmine who was going to be late, but she made it in time. I love that this show doesn’t need to spell it all exactly out. They look at each other semi-fondly, remembering when they acted like humans to one another. She blows him off, and then Jabbar shows up, the cutest child on earth, and announces he is the Star Of The Week, and Mom and Dad need to come to school to talk about how great he is. This is an utterly fake construct to make Crosby and Jasmine get together, and they both are like “THANK GOD but also we’re scared”.
Kristina is trying to find out what’s going on at school from Max, but he’s only annoyed that they’re out for an actual walk and thinks it’s stupid and suddenly has a super-pee emergency and freaks out and they go to their friends’ house and the mom is weird about not letting him in, and Max pushes through, which I understand because I am that person who goes from not-needing to desperately urgent, and he races through the house all “Hi Gaby” and Kristina gets fussed – that’s her Asperger’s therapist in someone else’s house. Minka Kelly continues to be gorgeous, lest you be worried.
Kristina, outside the house. Giving Suzy Lessing and Gaby the third degree. I was not aware that Gaby had been purchased for the Braverman’s exclusive use, and Kristina gets way out of line about how Max found out he has Asperger’s “because of what you and Crosby did”. I know a lot of people find this character hard to take, but to me, she reads like so many frantic panicky moms I’ve heard of that I find her realistic. If hard to take. Anyway, Kristina delivers low blows about how their whole family got screwed, I truly wish she would get over herself, and she and Max storm off.
Law Firm. Julia and Amber. Mae Whitman’s dress seems too long for her. When is someone going to tell Sarah that she needs to switch to Amber’s other, non-stripper name if she’s going to be in environments like this?
Amber is delighted and thankful for the job. Julia’s Von Trapp Family haircut agrees. They talk about how brutal it is to wait for the college of your choice to cough up whether you’re in or not. Then “Gary” walks through the door. He is greasy and immediate bad news. I think this dude is from Greek, and he’s the valet. He tells Amber not to screw up on her first day, which apparently counts for flirting? Anyway, no time to worry about that because family hijinks abound! Joel calls, and while on speakerphone (natch) tells Julia he can’t masturbate into a cup. Amber makes a hilarious “I’m not going to pretend I didn’t hear that” face. Joel is mortified; Amber leaves. Joel is not interested in doing this, and I believe we’re going into an at-work phone-sex scenario here. Joel awesomely asks “you know how to do that?” He gets into position, she thinks some stuff up, and then her Von Trapp hairstyle gets in the way and she totally bails on him. Which was kind of funny.
School. Adam and Kristina. They panic about Max’s academic performance at which point, staff tell them how well Max is doing in math and science. Adam and Kristina look downcast, because they treat every single thing like it’s a problem. Anyway, apparently it is, because they basically say the school is good for Max socially but is going to make his life difficult because he’s going to be bored. They have to decide if they should send him somewhere else for ‘mainstream’.
So anyway, back at Sarah’s, why doesn’t Amber go to school? Like what is this job all about? She and mom banter about fax machines, yuk yuk, and then Sarah hands over an ominously thin envelope that I guess is from Berkeley. Amber is defeatist. Which is correct because she doesn’t get in. But it’s ‘her safety school’, not Berkeley I guess. Lauren Graham’s complete loss-of-voice here is distracting. Amber says mom’s putting pressure on Berkeley about six times and then leaves.
Crosby and Jabbar find pictures to put on Jabbar’s Star poster. They’re all family portraits, natch. Crosby manipulates the situation by making Jabbar put down that all his favourite things are done with both his parents. OK then.
Zeke talks to a guy who’s a hundred. Sarah walks in and is introduced to Richard Dreyfuss, and apparently he and Zeke are old war buddies. They drink gin and this guy is a Broadway producer? He agrees to read Sarah’s play, Lauren Graham’s voice cracks six times, Dreyfusss yells at her for saying she wants to take out the personal stuff. Why is a Broadway producer in San Francisco? Anyway, he wonders if she’s afraid of hurting her family’s feelings, she is, and Dreyfuss says he’ll tell her the truth about what he reads.
Kristina interrupts Adam trying to brush his teeth, because she can’t leave anything alone. She doesn’t want to put Max back in a mainstream school, because ‘it sucked’. Adam thinks he’s grown and can handle it. Kristina wants him to wrap him in cotton wool and never have to worry. Or wants him “to flourish and grow”. They do that thing where you disagree, agree to talk about it later, and that means that you both expect the other to change their minds before then.
Amber has a voicemail. From Carly of Berkeley. My visual voicemail never works, you guys. Carly says she spoke to the Dean at Berkeley and Amber should call back. That’s such an annoying message. Anyway, Amber is distracted because Gary the irritatingly greasy valet wants her to go to beers at happy hour later. She says she wants to raincheck, and he takes off. Amber, he’s grody.
So what day is it? Because Zeke is still pouring Dreyfusss and his NEWSBOY CAP into a car, because that’s safe. Anyway, Dreyfusss says Sarah’s going to find some Stuff about him on the web, and she shouldn’t judge. She agrees, and she and Zeke blithely watch him drive off drunk. No, seriously.
This is the longest afternoon ever. Jabbar is still working on his project, now with Jasmine. Jabbar the pawn delivers the information Crosby planted. Jasmine is too smart, and makes Jabbar add things to his list, like s’mores, that they do alone. Jabbar twists the knife that he wants Crosby to come home, and Jasmine feels bad.
Amber. Bedroom. She steels herself in her adorable miniskirt, and calls Carly. And – it’s not good news from Berkeley. Carly figured she would want to know. Sh*t. This is such sh*t. All the pressure and all the anticipation and she doesn’t get in. UGH. There’s just no way to feel like this is anything but plain terrible. She holds it together, just barely long enough to get off the phone. Then – bereft.
Julia and Joel’s. He and Sydney race in the door as the phone is ringing. I love when shows pretend people have homephones. Joel answers. Lots of “uh-huh”, then they make him say “My boys can swim”. Sydney is repeating a gambit about how they might be getting an aquarium that I feel the need to tell you about in case it comes back in the tag.
Sarah and Zeke research Dreyfuss. Don’t know why they showed off Amber’s iphone but hide the Apple on the computer? They pull up the guy’s resume, and he’s done nothing since 2000. Sarah, who the hell are you to judge? Also, I’m calling this guy “Dreyfuss” because he is, but also because they keep calling him “Gilliam T. Blount”. Please.
Amber. Parking Garage. Valet. She wants to take him up on the raincheck.
Crosby at his mom’s house. Stealing photos for Jabbar. Sarah stuffs her face, which doesn’t make her laryngitis less noticeable. Sarah accurately points out that Crosby is trying to make Jasmine remember the good times. He looks so sad as he points out he doesn’t know what else to do. And she bolsters him, saying it’s going to work.
You know, this is what I love the most about this show. I love that there are six distinct relationships (I just counted) between these siblings. The Sarah-Crosby dynamic has always been gentle and supportive. They are most alike, I think, and they save their hard-time giving for other people…
…like Adam. He gets home. He kind of looks like he needs the toilet, if I may be uncouth. He and Kristina bitch about how Adam already called “Sycamore Charter”. (This is where Sydney and Jabbar go, and how many grades does it service anyway?) They jump right back into their fight where each thinks the other is being dumb. Adam says he’s too smart for his current school, Kristina says they can help him. Apparently this all has to happen this week. Sure. Kristina says it’s Adam who wants Max to be mainstreamed and he’s wrong. Adam actually says OK. Let the heavens open!
Jabbar’s school. All these kids look older than Jabbar. Crosby and Jasmine make Jabbar dance in front of the class. A child wants to know how Jasmine and Crosby met, as if. Crosby tells how they met at a beautiful wedding. He is, of course, adorable as he tells the story of how he got Jasmine’s shoe out from where it was stuck, and she of course looks at him adoringly. This is all very paint-by-numbers but I’m rooting for them so hard, for Jabbar not to have to deal with a split so much, that I don’t care. He tells a fairy-tale of how much he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, and it’s really sweet.
Julia and some assistant in the parking garage. The assistant wanted to tattle – or, to say it was none of her business – but that when Amber was gone for so long, she heard gossip she was in the garage. Julia strides up to Gary, who narcs on Amber, rocking out in a car. Which turns out to be Julia’s boss’ car. Amber is high in it, obvs. Julia gets in, and doesn’t freak out as much as you might expect. She’s mad, but Amber tells her she didn’t get into college anywhere, and she’s so ashamed and embarrassed. Julia is sympathetic, but says she has to tell Sarah. Julia swears up and down Sarah won’t be mad. I love Mae Whitman in this story but since we all know Amber’s academic achievement was spotty, I think this all could have had more impact with Haddie. Who? You know, the other child of Kristina and Adam’s who’s probably been sleeping at her boyfriend’s for days for all we know.
Zeek. Dreyfuss. Sarah. Dreyfuss wants to do her play. He likes it a lot. That is, not what’s there right now, but what’s ‘hidden inside’ which is genius. Her voice is better, as she asks “Do you like it or not?” She gets into an argument with Dreyfusss about what is trash and what is ‘silly’ and what is real in her play. Sarah accurately says they’re workshopping, and is awfully mature for a guy messing in her play.
Upon which Amber walks in, in like, a hunting uniform (no seriously, there’s a felt cap involved) to ask if it’s a bad time. Zeek postures that Sarah’s play is getting produced, Dreyfusss calls Amber the “dark, shadowy, short little short guy”, and she leaves. Opportunity dumped! Don’t ever have a work meeting when your kid needs something, parents! Guilt!
New day, and Gaby walks up to Kristina. I don’t mean to focus on beauty above all else, particularly because I think Minka Kelly has done a really nice job with this small role, but damn, is she luminous. Like, I might be WAY off, but I get the feeling she’s one of these girls who is that gorgeous because she’s a nice person and it shines through. Naïve?
Anyway, she wants to know about the meeting with school. Kristina is bitchy, because of course. Then, because she’s also needy, she confesses they’re talking about mainstreaming Max. Gaby is all breathless and delighted. They go inside the house, and it’s mega-awks. Kristina opens up about her fears about telling other parents why Max is so different and him getting bullied. She admits it sounds pathetic, and I like that both she and Adam are partially doing what’s safest for them personally, not Max. Gaby wisdoms that it’s totally normal for Kristina to be concerned, and then – hallelujah! – says what we’ve all been waiting for. “Max’s awareness of his Asperger’s is a way bigger deal to you than it is to him.” THANK you!
I do not work with anyone on the spectrum disorder so please correct me if I’m mistaken. But in my experience with kids in general, they don’t make stuff a big deal unless YOU make it a big deal. Then she says she thinks Max could do super-well in a mainstream setting. Then further wisdoms that there are no guarantees “with Max or any other kid”. You’d think Kristina would know this from how she already has another child. Anyway, she makes Gaby say, in so many words, that she would put Max in mainstream. They apologize over what went down ‘before’, and hug.
Adam storms in. Max and Haddie – Haddie! – are watching TV. Haddie is literally only seen from the back though. Kristina tells Adam she saw Gaby, and that she now thinks they should mainstream Max. Adam is delighted. Now that he’s got his way, he’s all “are you sure? Are you?” They throw out the app. to the Asperger’s school, and then we see how smart Max is because he’s watching “Cash Cab”. Not Jeopardy?
Houseboat. Jasmine arrives. I love her tank top. Is it always so temperate that Crosby never closes the door? Jasmine says Crosby told cute stories and that ‘for awhile I thought that’s what it could feel like, as a family’. Then she tells him, in case he forgot, that he slept with another woman while they were engaged. Crosby says, probably for the hundredth time, that he will do anything for her to forgive him. But she admits she might never forgive him and needs to move on. It all seems kind of bloodless, and Crosby looks heartbroken. Props to Dax, but Kristen Bell, can you make that poor pout go away?
Townhouse. Joel strides in, all ready to be the Man Who Makes Dinner, and Julia, home early, stops him. She has something to tell him. And she looks so sad. Her doctor called. She has a problem. It’s not cancer – but it’s intrauterine scarring. And it makes it hard to get pregnant. And she starts to cry as she says that she’s so sorry, and that’s when I lose it. It’s so crazy that we apologize in times like this but that’s what makes this so real. That you feel bad your body is lacking. Erika Christiansen is sobbing for real, and Sam Jaeger is too, and I can’t believe how hard this is as she says, plaintive, how much she really wanted to have another baby.
And that’s how we leave them. Sad, together. Sarah, talk to your kid.
Attached – Erika Christensen at the Spirit Awards in February. (Lainey: I thought she was Miley Cyrus.)
Photos from Wenn.com