A review of last night's "Parenthood" (the next-to-last episode of season 2) coming up just as soon as I accidentally go to a quinceanera...
A Jason Katims show has a pretty high bar to clear when it comes to the subject of parents finding out about their teenage daughter's sex life, given how brilliantly "Friday Night Lights" dealt with it both before and after Julie Taylor had sex. (Wish there was a clip of that later conversation between Tami and Julie, but the first one's so good that you can just go and watch it twice. I'll wait.) And though I don't think the Haddie story in "Slipping Away" cleared that bar (Monica Potter has her moments, but she's no Connie Britton), I thought it was as strong as you could have hoped for given the similarity of the material coming from the same creative team. Haddie's reaction to Adam's line about never wanting to see her hurt was just so damn well-played by Sarah Ramos; that's a classic example of where a "Parenthood" feel-good ending feels completely earned, not forced.
I also really liked the scene near the end where Adam and Sarah are discussing the problems with their respective daughters and Sarah is completely dismissive of Adam's concerns compared to what Amber's putting her through. Frankly, seeing that scene made me wish (as I often do) that the show had ditched the other storylines to just focus on what these two sibs are going through. I didn't need to see more of Crosby's "Extreme Makeover: Home and Relationship Edition" project, didn't need to see the return of Adam's caricatured twentysomething boss, didn't even necessarily need to see Richard Dreyfuss and/or Steven Weber.
(Though at least I didn't mind the two guest stars, and there's value in showing how one part of Sarah's life is going incredibly even as another part is spinning into disaster. As I've said before, my interest level in Crosby and Jasmine is about nil, and I'm just waiting to move on to the period where Crosby's a single part-time dad.)
And while some of the earlier Sarah/Amber scenes were really well-played - particularly Lauren Graham's transformation from being relieved that she can still joke with her daughter to being angry and betrayed to realize that Amber is high - I didn't love the final scene. It was obvious from the moment we saw Amber and Cappie in the car that one or both of them was going to be badly injured in a car crash, and the whole thing felt very Afterschool Special, "Drugs are bad, mmmkay?" I'm not saying there can't or shouldn't be consequences for what Amber's been up to these last few episodes, but going to such an extreme place, so quickly, feels a little shameless. There's only one episode to go in the season - if not the series(*) - and I can see Katims and company wanting some big emotional moment to bring the family together, induce a bunch of tears, etc., for the finale, but if they were going to go here, I'd have liked to see more build-up, rather than this plot coming almost as out of nowhere as the car that t-boned Amber.
(*) We likely won't know about renewal until the upfronts next month. If I had to put a bet on it, I'd give "Parenthood" better odds than some of NBC's other bubble shows (like, say, "Chuck"). It's younger, NBC owns it, critics really dig it, NBC can't cancel everything, etc. But with a new network president, you never know.
What did everybody else think?
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