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August 27, 2014

'Parenthood' - 'The Situation' Recap

by Danny Gallagher, posted Mar 31st 2010 9:29AM
Tyree Brown as Jabbar and Dax Shepard as Crosby Braverman in 'Parenthood' - 'The Situation'(S01E05) It's really getting hard to watch 'Parenthood,' and not in a "Gee, this show is so painfully real that it makes me question the true nature of love and family devotion" kind of way.

It's quite the opposite.

The seams are really starting to show as the episodes try to stretch across an entire season. It now feels so unbelievable because of the lackluster characters and dialogue that I'm starting to feel just as bored as the people look on the screen.

This week's episode was filled with moments that just had me shaking my head at how unrealistic the scenes felt. It's also gotten so run-of-the-mill and ordinary and has lost any cohesiveness with its running story lines. It's hard to like a show that keeps giving me one less reason to look forward to tuning in every week.

To be fair, it's the little things that have me wondering if the show has lost all contact with the outside world, but they quickly add up, so even a blind man spot them from a mile away. For instance, the way that the adults act around Max's syndrome just doesn't really show any imagination or ingenuity. The coach talks to Max as if he's a mute and just about every parent that comes into contact with Adam and Kristina feel as though they are walking through a room filled with hinged mouse traps. A little uncomfortable humor from one big mouth parent would feel like a step up at this point.

Adam's plot line had the promise of being something funny and interesting, but that simply descends into the "Daddy hates his little girl's boyfriend" routine that we've seen a million times before, and in much funnier and more interesting situations.

This leads to a fight that comes out nowhere between Haddie and her parent ass-kissing crush over what he thought of 'Love, Actually,' but the possibility of a breakup that somehow magically resolves itself when the boyfriend admits he was just trashing the movie because he was hiding his sensitive side. It felt tacked on and totally unbelievable in terms of plot and dialogue. The boyfriend's fight speech actually included the quip, "'Love, Actually?' More like 'Lame, Actually.'" Did the writers go to the Gene Shalit School of Movie Criticism?

The Crosby-Jabbar angle continues to be the most interesting plot line of the show, but it took a weird turn with Crosby asking for DNA test angle at the behest of the ever-nosey Julia. Why would the boy's mother act so standoffish and cold to the idea? Sure she hasn't asked for money or any financial responsibilities, but wouldn't it be better to be sure?

The whole line leads to the typical "everything's alright" ending where the mother concedes that Crosby has the right to be sure and Crosby refuses because he knows in his heart Jabbar is his. I had to check the info box on my TiVo to make sure it hadn't accidentally taped something off Lifetime.

Speaking of Julia, she is without a doubt my least favorite lead character in this cast of cruddiness. She's always trying to fix things and fails miserably, only to have everything work out alright in the end with or without her help, whether it's teaching her daughter how to swim in the deep end or getting her to muster the courage to play the Princess with her stuck-up friend. Even the Buddhist mother feels like a cold, two-dimensional stereotype set up solely to create migraines for Julie, and both end up just as unlikeable.

The only promising part is Sarah falling for her daughter's English teacher. The setup, in which the daughter steals one of her mother's old term papers to score an easy grade on a hard book report, felt a little fresh, even if you could tell the inevitable love-fest was coming, but it didn't have much of a reason to exist outside of the upcoming romantic angle. It still kept my attention, which was more than I could say for the rest of the episode.

Even the good characters like Crosby, played by Dax Shepard, and Adam, played by Peter Krause, came off as very dry and held back in this episode. Maybe it's because they are trying to tone up the dramatic element or the script just doesn't give them much to work with, but their performances felt just rote and flat.

'Parenthood?' More like 'Parentshould-Not-Watch-This-Episode.'

Other observations:
- Enough with the happy endings! Can't just one episode end on a really sour note for someone? Couldn't Max have dropped that fly ball? Would that have been so horrible? I'll take any bad downer ending at this point: a mugging, a near drowning, a nuclear warhead theft. Anything that might get someone interesting in tuning in to next week's episode, namely me.

- I know this is such a geek thing to complain about, but it was so obvious the boyfriend was not playing the video game with Max in that early scene. How does a teenager, a human being put on earth solely to line the pockets of the Nintendo corporation, not know how to fake play a video game? Could it be that today's youngin's are putting down their controllers and picking up (gasp!) books?

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Real Dad

Love the show. As a parent I see my own faults and triumphs while reflecting on whats happening in the show. The acting, writing and directing are excellent. I love how they incorporate the younger children into the show each week. Max , Amber, Miles, Haddie and Sydney do an excellent job bringing their characters to life. Can anyone tell me where else I might see these children actors Amber, Miles, Haddie, Max and Sydney (other shows, episodes or movies)? Hope NBC keeps it going next season I beginning to become attached to this family. Just wish they would move it to an earlier time slot or even Sunday night so the whole family could watch it together. Keep up the good work by Howard, Glazer, Katims and Trilling!

April 01 2010 at 1:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lylekira

My husband and I love the show. Disagree with the reviewer completely, and although there are of course situations that are amped up for the "drama" of tv, most of it smacks of reality to us and what we see as parents of three kids.

March 31 2010 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sean

I love this show and found many of the situations and characters common and realistic. I see a lot of it as a teacher: how parents interact with their children, how the children act at school (often because of them), how parents act with each other, etc. Even my parents love it! My mom said, "Where was this show when our kids were young?" These are problems that parents face today. As syndromes such as Autism are on the rise, it's refreshing to see the entire family deal with this in a very realistic way. I know how many people get uncomfortable around children with Asperger's/Autism or any other disorder, and they don't know how to talk to or treat them or what they're capable of. It's so much more realistic that he hellhole of the Walker family. THAT is overdramatic. This show isn't supposed to be a strict comedy. I can tell you now my mom will hate every lady that my brothers and I will bring home. So the fact that there's a father who doesn't like his daughter's boyfriend is fine with me. It happens all the time.

March 31 2010 at 8:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jan Crump

I was really looking forward to this show, considereing who is connected to it, but I am very dissappointed in it! I recorded it and just haven't been able to watch this weeks. I think I'm gonna stop before I lose another hour I can't get back! It is too disjointed and all the scenes have been done on another program. I love Brothers & Sisters, so I think I'll just stick with it for my "family" show.

March 31 2010 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GrumpyOldMan

Put this show out it's misery and cancel it now.

March 31 2010 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Allison

Because it seems to matter to everyone here, yes, I have 2 kids of my own. I find the plots over the top, not too subtle (especially Crosby/Jabar). I'd like them to scale back the drama as well as the pace. I think Max's storyline has moved too quickly. Within four episodes, they've gotten a diagnosis and changed schools. Within four episodes, Amber is already notorious in the school as a troublemaker (by other parents even). I guess in TV today to stay on the air, you need to move quickly.

I'm saying all this as a fan of the show. I like the personal interactions between the siblings and the married couples. I still will be watching but come here to point out the things that bug me.

March 31 2010 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Frank

Agree. I'm done with the show.
Maybe if I were a parent, or if I were middle aged, but, no.

Just don't care about any of the characters.

March 31 2010 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chuck

wow..
a downer review just as I promoted it to my "must see" list. As a parent, 2 kids different as night and day but "normal" , and as a teacher- 25 years- I can tell you a lot of this hits close to home. i suppose the young unmarried still self-centered , :-), have trouble with to keep looking for BIG drama.. and can we stop dwelling on Lauren previous success Gilmore Girls- like half this cast are pros with great resumes. Did I mention I really like this show?

March 31 2010 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Slayer4915

I am loving the show, and I'm a guy. I find it to be very realistic. Personally, I relate to what Drew's going through (we even share the same name!) I also grew up close with a family who's son had a mental disability, so I've seen a lot of the stuff they're showing with Max. And I actually really like Juia's character. She's flawed for sure, but that's what makes her interesting. There have only been four episodes, I don't expect her to so quickly learn from her mistakes and become a different person. Give her a chance to grow.

March 31 2010 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
adrienne

I don't feel like we're watching the same show. It's all very realistic to me. I spend a lot of time comparing it to Brothers & Sisters, which I love. However, the Bravermans are far more realistic than the Walkers. Maybe that's why you don't like it, because it is realistic.

March 31 2010 at 11:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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