Parenthood Season 3 - Everybody Falls

Duana Posted by Duana at March 1, 2012 16:05:15 March 1, 2012 16:05:15

…Including Billy Riggins.

(Lainey: what? Billy Riggins is on this show??? Why didnΓÇÖt you SAY SO?)

IΓÇÖve been trying to figure out who the Parenthood viewer is. ItΓÇÖs not everyone, because then the ratings would be, you know, up.  I used to think it was about those of us who fantasize about big families, but it isnΓÇÖt that either. Some of the viewers who love it the most know from experience that the life of a big family isnΓÇÖt nearly this sun-kissed and funny this much of the time. ItΓÇÖs inclusive of, but not enveloped by, the Friday Night Lights fan. (Billy Riggins was here!)  It is, judging by the spoilers I dodged Tuesday night, every single person on my Twitter feed.

Parenthood this year felt more like my family than it ever has. Not because the characters resemble my blood relations or I wished they were, but because big dramatic moments were brought up and thenΓǪlife continued. They werenΓÇÖt resolved, and they werenΓÇÖt fixed. ZeekΓÇÖs health is a great example. This is how it goes in life. Your parent gets a little older, has a health issue. YouΓÇÖre  concerned, you interrogate them to find out what the doctor said,  andΓǪthen you continue going to your job every day.  

Parenthood knows family is in the quiet moments between the big events. Yes, the wedding was gorgeous but the emotional moments have come all the way through the season, and they donΓÇÖt have beginnings and ends. HaddieΓÇÖs disappointment with her parents, which might be justified, started all the way last year. AdamΓÇÖs tunnel-vision where his own decisions are concerned, AmberΓÇÖs aimlessness, these have all been brewing for months before now. Why doesnΓÇÖt most TV understand this? That IΓÇÖve been having the same continuous conversation with my sister, in sections, for years, and we might never be finished?

When I last wrote about the Bravermans I received some very angry mail because I called Max selfish. I heard that I didnΓÇÖt understand a kid with needs like his, and that it wasnΓÇÖt his fault, despite the fact that Haddie agrees with me. Half a year later, I still think heΓÇÖs kind of selfish ΓÇô along with funny and generous and excellent at basketball and probably lacking in table manners and having AspergerΓÇÖs syndrome. He has that syndrome. And beyond that, a personality that has good traits and flaws, all his own. Just like everyone.

All of the characters on this show have flaws. Every last one. Haddie is sarcastic and petulant. Drew has a habit of punishing his mother for things she canΓÇÖt control.  Camille stays silent, not wanting to ΓÇ£pushΓÇ¥ her children, when really, sometimes they need their mommy. JoelΓǪwell, Joel hasnΓÇÖt made a mistake since the first season.  Which means thereΓÇÖs a whopper coming.

This is the thesis of the show. No matter who else you meet and like, your family knows you, loves you, accepts that you, like everyone else in the world, are going to have flaws, and that theyΓÇÖre going to point them out to you while defending their own. ThatΓÇÖs family.

Specifically, this season was about the anticipation of a baby. While baby Nora has proved to be rather convenient (and I always forget, when I see the baby beside Kristina, how short American maternity leaves are), she represented the baby dreams that fueled Julia and Sarah this year.

Julia made mistakes, pinning her hopes on an unlikely scenario. Can you blame her?  Maybe.  (How incredible was Rosa Salazar as Zoe?) Those mistakes brought her here, to an even more unlikely scenario, where, even though I found the language of the social worker a little vague, she and Joel are now the adoptive parents of a child at least as old as their own daughter.  Is that complicated and troublesome and not at all what they were expecting?  YES, dammit, and thank God for that. ΓÇ£Man plans, God laughs.ΓÇ¥  Is this arguably making another or different mistake, one that they didnΓÇÖt think through entirely?  Possibly. IsnΓÇÖt that interesting?

Sarah screwed up her courage and made a decision she could cling to in times of sadness. ΓÇ£At least I did right by Mark. I told him the truth.ΓÇ¥  She took the moment when she had some calm and some courage, bolstered by being able to have a real conversation with her daughter ΓÇô and she told him having children might not be for her, that he might want them, if not now, then in 10 years. She knows for a fact heΓÇÖs got stars in his eyes. She is absolutely right when she cuts him loose.  When he comes back to her and proposes, exactly nothing has changed in their situation, i.e. sheΓÇÖs still 40 and ambivalent, heΓÇÖs still 28 and na├»ve; still, she agrees. Are they any further away from the problems she stated? Probably not!  Are they thinking this through? DoesnΓÇÖt look like it. DonΓÇÖt you love it?

ThereΓÇÖs not shock on Parenthood. ThereΓÇÖs not boundary pushing. ThereΓÇÖs people consistently, constantly, being likeable and unlikeable, reliably, every day (remember how AdamΓÇÖs speech didnΓÇÖt even mention Jasmine? Jerk). ThereΓÇÖs allowing people to grow and change so slowly. And the other people who they interact with letting them do it, if reluctantly, sometimes.

ItΓÇÖs been a fantastic ride and IΓÇÖm far from the only one who thinks itΓÇÖs reached new heights. If the show is renewed for a fourth season (and God, I hope so) I imagine weΓÇÖre talking about a minimum of a 6.5 month hiatus until then. ItΓÇÖs worth a rewatch to go back to the beginning and see how these people have changed, and what happened to HaddieΓÇÖs hair. Think about how you hated Kristina and who sheΓÇÖs become, and whether she was always that person. Think about your family, and how imperfect they are. And what a relief it is to see that reflected back to you, in your imperfect, constantly changing life.

Attached - Michael B Jordan at the Elton John Oscar party on Sunday

Wenn, Frederick M. Brown/Getty

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