Last night’s episode of Parenthood was so good, yet made me so upset in some ways. That’s a sign of a good TV show, though. The characters are flawed, and they made decisions that you don’t always agree with. Parenthood knows how to do that so well, and they’ve had an impeccable season so far.
The big storyline of the season has been Kristina’s cancer, and in last night’s episode she had the surgery to remove the lump in her breast. There were so many aspects to this that played perfectly together. Max’s election was a big one, and I’ll say more on that in a bit. I loved watching Crosby deal with Kristina’s cancer, because it’s not like they’ve been BFFs. But they’re family, and Crosby showed how much he cared from trying to give meaningful help to Adam and his family, to asking Jabbar to help him pray. (You had to laugh when Crosby told God that Kristina has cancer, and Jabbar said “He already knows that.”)
I liked how isolating Adam in the waiting room with various siblings shone a light on just how removed something like cancer can make you from the rest of your family. They were all there for Adam, but he has no idea what’s been going on in anyone else’s lives because he’s been dealing with this huge, awful thing. Under any other circumstances, Julia quitting her job because she’s trying to take care of her newly adopted son would be a big deal, but Adam barely remembered that it happened. That’s life, and everyone understood, and I thought it was a moment the show portrayed very well.
Grown Up Choices
The thing I most wanted to talk about on the blog, though, was Haddie. I loved her this week, and I think Adam and Kristina made a huge mistake. Haddie hasn’t always been a character that viewers love, but she’s been growing up. She made the decision to come home from college to see her sick mother because it was the right decision for her, and Adam and Kristina should have respected that. They should have at least been willing to discuss the idea of her postponing school for a semester.
The huge mistake came after the surgery. It was heartbreaking to find out that Kristina’s cancer wasn’t limited to what they removed from her breast, but I wasn’t surprised. But I can’t believe they lied to their daughter about it. That’s so, so wrong. Haddie should have been allowed to make the decision to delay college. She’s eighteen years old and her mother has cancer. If I were in that situation, I would also want to be at home with my family, where I felt needed. I would want to spend time with my mom in case things didn’t go well. I don’t think the show would kill of Kristina at all, but just looking at it from a human perspective – what if Kristina died? What if Haddie then didn’t come home until her mother was very, very sick? Adam and Kristina’s lie could, theoretically, rob their daughter of valuable time with her mother. And it robbed her of making a decision that I think, at 18, she’s fully capable of making for herself. So I think Adam and Kristina made a mistake. They treated Haddie like a child, but these situations can make someone grow up very quickly. They need to start speaking to her honestly about the cancer, and letting her help out.
Max’s school election was the same day as Kristina’s surgery, and it was sad to watch Kristina try so hard to also be there for her son when she was facing this big, scary thing. Haddie stepped in and gave Max a few pointers before his speech. I loved Max’s speech, and the growth that it showed for him. He was still himself, but he pushed himself out of his comfort zone a little.
I’m intrigued by the student reaction. On the one hand, I think middle school kids are aware enough to understand what was happening once Max announced he has Asperger’s. So I could see a situation in which students voted for Max, not quite out of pity, but because they understood who he was and why he was so focused on the vending machine. But on the other hand, I wondered why students at the school didn’t already know about Max. Did they just think he was weird the whole time? Had none of the teachers told students to have extra patience with the kid on the autism spectrum? I don’t know how any of this works, I’m just wondering.
The other big parental mistake that I think was made this week was by Sarah. Drew had every right to be angry about getting moved into an apartment with Mark. Again, I think it comes down to talk to teenagers like people, not children. Sarah should have made more of an effort to make sure that Drew was comfortable living with Mark, and she should have discussed it with him more. She made the decision quickly, and mostly as a reaction to Hank’s kiss, and she didn’t value his feelings like she should have. Drew is, like, the most sensitive teenage boy in the world. The kid has feelings. It should have been handled more delicately.
Amber’s sweet, awkward date with Ryan helped lighten up the episode a little. Amber hasn’t dated a whole lot, and at that age many people haven’t. Mae Whitman and Matt Lauria have a lot of chemistry, and I liked seeing that familiar nervous date energy. Amber was distracted because of Kristina, and Ryan proved that he’s a sensitive, understanding guy. The awkward handshake at the end of the night and the confusion over the flowers the next day were perfect moments, and I can’t wait to see more of those two together.
Another stellar episode in a fantastic season. Sadly Parenthood won’t be back until November 13th, so until then we’ll just have to discuss this episode. Get down to the comments!