Now that we are well into the second season of this show, I need to take the time to show it the appreciation it is due but sorely lacking. (EW seems to think the show is too realistic and therefore not “happy” enough, but I love its realism and find it has a great deal of hope and joy, even if it has more serious parts too.)
If you haven’t been watching, the show follows the Braverman clan (the parents and four siblings who are now grown up with kids of their own) as they navigate through life’s struggles. The families:
- Zeek and Camillle– the heads of the Braverman clan. Zeek is the kind of guy who likes to “toughen up” his kids, doesn’t really listen to other people’s opinions, and always has to do things his way (the way he’s always been doing it). Camille tends to be caught in the middle, trying to give her opinion but invariably upsetting people and trying to appease them or make peace with them.
- Adam and Kristina-Adam is the eldest of the four Braverman siblings. This family’s challenges generally revolve around their teenage daughter Haddie’s boyfriend troubles (and teenage angst), Max’s aspberger’s, and Adam’s work. Adam is the person everyone comes to for support and advice. He’s high strung and has a particularly difficult time dealing with Max’s issues because he wants the traditional father-son experience. Kristina is the kind, supportive wife who keeps things together but is sometimes overwhelmed with the Braverman clan as a whole.
- Sarah-the next sibling in line, Sarah has always been one of the freer spirits in the group. She divorces her rocker husband Seth (an alcoholic) and moves her kids Amber and Drew into her parents’ home. Her troubles tend to be with Drew’s lack of a father figure, Amber’s rebelliousness, and her own financial/employment issues.
- Crosby (and Jasmine)– Crosby is the consummate irresponsible bachelor who is forced to grow up when he learns that his ex, Jasmine, had his child and never told him. He decides he wants to be a part of Jabbar’s life. Crosby’s troubles tend to be about his fear of commitment and his troubles with raising a son he only just found out about. At current, Crosby and Jasmine are having particular issues with Jasmine being to bossy; she is used to raising Jabbar on her own and therefore considers her opinion to be above Crosby’s when it comes to deciding what is best for Jabbar.
- Julia and Joel– Julia is a working lawyer while Joel is a stay at home dad for Sydney. Julia is driven and competitive and strongly opinionated while believing that Sydney should be allowed to express herself (so long as they don’t go against Julia’s strong feminist ideals). Joel is a solid father and generally loves being a stay at home dad but he occasionally misses working and being with adults.
For me, the most compelling performances in the show revolve around Max’s aspberger’s and Sarah and family’s dealing with Seth’s alcoholism and dead beat dad behavior. Crosby’s current issues with Jasmine are interesting in their own right (it is frustrating to watch them so poorly communicate their sides but completely believable anyway). This show is so full of talented cast and has clever writing.
I’m hoping that Gaby (Minka Kelly), Max’s therapist, isn’t gone for good. I know Minka Kelly is going to be on Charlie’s Angels, assuming the show gets an order, but I really like her occasional appearances on the show. She’s such a quiet but grounding force. I like seeing how much Max’s situation impacts her as the person who works with him.
It looks like considering how poorly the rest of NBC shows are doing, Parenthood will likely be back next season, but not because its ratings are fantastic. (In fact, last year it had higher ratings and was even less of a lock for renewal.) If you can handle a show that isn’t happy-go-lucky but moving, this is the show you should start watching.