Parenthood: Cello, Nice To Meet You

Parenthood is always fantastic, but you know an episode has been particularly good when at least one storyline creates some kind of debate in the household. This week, I had to pause the show to discuss Haddie Braverman with my boyfriend. So let’s start there, shall we?

The Graduate

I haven’t always been the biggest Haddie Braverman fan. There was a period of time where I found her incredibly whiny and annoying. But the show has done a really good job of letting Haddie mature, while still experiencing flawed moments. She kind of screwed things up with Alex (getting drunk at that party), but I think that relationship helped her become an adult in a lot of ways.

The episode when Max ran away was some of Sarah Ramos’s best work, because it gave us another glimpse into what it’s like to be Haddie Braverman. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be a teenage girl growing up in a world where her needs always have to come second. She’s handled it really well, and I think in this week’s storyline Haddie continued to show a lot of maturity and selflessness.

Haddie got her acceptance letter for Cornell, the Ivy league school in Ithaca, NY that she’s always wanted to attend. With Haddie’s good grades, sports, student council and volunteer work, I think her character was long ago set up as a Rory Gilmore type who has worked hard to achieve her dreams. But as soon as she got the acceptance letter, Adam started worrying about how he’d pay the sky high tuition.

Since Adam was basically second in command at the shoe company, I’m going to guess that once upon a time he was making a lot of money and would have been able to at least help pay for Haddie to go to an Ivy League college. But times are tough. Unemployment, Max’s medical needs, the new baby and the new business have all eaten into their savings. Because he used to pull in a good salary at T&S, Haddie likely wouldn’t qualify for very much financial aid. So he and Kristina had to break the news to their daughter that she couldn’t go to Cornell.

So here’s where the debate comes in. My boyfriend, the practical one, thought Haddie should have understood the reasoning – Berkeley is a fantastic school, and attending there would save her a lot of money. She wouldn’t be drowning in student loans when she graduated. And then I kind of stopped listening when he started going on about return on investment and how much more money Haddie would have to earn for the cost of Cornell to be worth it. And logically, he’s right. But you know what? It would still really, really suck to have to hear that.

I think Haddie dealt with the situation exceptionally well, and it was really an example of how being Max’s older sister has turned her into this kind of person. She wasn’t angry with her parents, she didn’t lash out or blame them. But naturally, she was upset. She was having to say goodbye to her dream school, and that sucks. When Kristina tried to talk to her about it, I thought Kristina was being the insensitive one. She needed to let Haddie be disappointed for a while. Haddie was handling it so well, but it was a crushing disappointment and, yes, it was yet another example of how Max’s needs have infringed on Haddie’s life.

Of course, eventually, Adam told Haddie that he will try to find a way to make it happen. Realistically, a kid like Haddie would probably have to suck it up and go to Berkeley – which, to her credit, is exactly what Haddie was trying to do. Or, I suppose, she could say “You know what? I want to go to Cornell so badly that I am willing to put myself in a bunch of debt, work a job or two while I’m in college and deal with the fact that I won’t be able to afford a lot of visits home.” Haddie’s basically an adult now, and I think that’s her decision to make. But since this show is set in Northern California, I have a feeling that Haddie will end up making piece with the idea of attending Berkeley. Veronica Mars dealt with a similar issue, though on Gilmore Girls there were rich grandparents to bail Lorelai and Rory out.

Musical Chairs

The rest of the episode was also really great, although I spent a lot of time yelling at Jasmine through my TV screen. It all began when Crosby kissed Lily, and Jasmine saw it. Crosby told Jasmine that Lily’s not just some hookup but a girl he really likes, and he wanted to take Jabbar to see her perform at an outdoor concert.

It was clear from the beginning that Jasmine was jealous, but I liked the way they showed it in small ways. Jabbar never seemed to be in real danger of seeing his dad kissing a pretty cellist and, if he had, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. Yet Jasmine told Crosby that she “ran interference”, making it a bigger deal than it was. Then she invited herself and Dr. Joe to the concert, which even Adam thought was weird. At the concert you could see the jealousy on her face when Lily had a cute little moment of bonding with Jabbar, and again when she watched Crosby’s face as he watched his new love interest perform.

On the one hand, yes, I yelled at Jasmine. She let Crosby go, she was the first to get serious with another person, and she has a kind and handsome doctor beau to be paying attention to. She has no right to be feeling jealous about Crosby when he tried so hard to work things out after his infidelity and she decided things were over for good. But on the other hand, feelings are complicated. He’s the father of her child, they were engaged, she loved him. Even though she’s with someone else now, seeing someone else making Crosby so happy might sting a little. Yet, because Jasmine has never been my favorite character, all I could think was “Well now you know how Crosby felt. Remember the time Dr. Joe ruined Harry Potter? Yeah. Chew on that for a while.” It also appears that Dr. Joe knows something is up, so if Jasmine doesn’t get those feelings of jealousy under control she could end up without Joe or Crosby.

Anyway, it was nice to see Lily get along so well with Jabbar, and I hope things work out between her and Crosby. I’d like to see what Crosby is like in a stable, long-term relationship when his family isn’t on the line the way it was with Jasmine. I’d also like to see if he’s matured or learned anything since he screwed things up with Jasmine.

I only have one complaint with the show, and that’s what Jabbar said when they got home from the concert. “Mommy, I like Daddy’s new friend,” would have sufficed. It seems like a normal thing for a kid to say, and we could see Jasmine’s reaction all over her face. But “Daddy seems really happy”? That’s a tad too insightful for a kid who’s about six years old and should be more concerned with the ice cream he got on the way home than with reading into his single dad’s emotional state.

Family Ties

Since Haddie has become a mature, reasonable adult, Drew Holt has stepped into the role of Teenager I Hate. At least this week, anyway. Can we talk about what a brat he’s being?

I love Drew with Amy, because he’s a shy and awkward kid who’s finally coming out of his shell. And I loved the material he got this week overall, even though it made me so annoyed at him. He spends a lot of nights over at Amy’s house, something that Sarah is trying desperately to be OK with. And there he is, hanging out with Amy’s parents, when Sarah comes by to drop off his cell phone and he acts like she has just done The Worst Thing Ever. What is this kid’s problem? It’s not like Sarah walked in on him spending private, intimate time with Amy so that she could give him a used Kleenex. She walked up the street so she could give him his cell phone, which he needed to keep his promise to text his mother, and she didn’t interrupt anything awkward. Is he embarrassed of her? What gives?

Things got even more difficult for Sarah when Amy’s parents invited her to join them all on a trip to visit a nearby college. It was where they had met, and Amy was considering going there. On the trip, it was revealed that Amy’s parents knew a lot more about Drew and his plans for the future – like that he wants to major in biology – than his own mother does. Ouch. That’s got to sting. And when Sarah tried to ask Drew to keep her in the loop on things like that, he acted like a bratty little snot. I hated him. I never want a teenage son.

I also liked how Sarah’s failed attempts to connect with her son tied into her relationship with Zeek, which has grown since she moved back in with her parents. After undergoing some tests Zeek got some scary news about a heart condition, and he freaked out a little. He bought an Airstream without asking Camille first, which pretty much screams later-life crisis. I think Sarah knew something was up, and she opted to hang out with her dad and have pizza in the new trailer rather than having dinner with her hot boyfriend. It was a small moment, but one of those funny, sweet ones that Parenthood always nails.

Speaking of small, sweet moments – how great was it when Zeek revealed that he bought the trailer to help fulfill Camille’s long ago dream of painting missions. I had to Google what that is (and Wikipedia is having a self-imposed blackout today) but from what I could briefly gather, it’s a series of 21 religious and military outposts built by Spanish Catholics in California between 1769 and 1823. Anyway, I thought it was a lovely idea.

Labor Pains

I have to say, I’m really impressed with what the writers have done in the Julia/Joel/Zoe storyline. This started out as something a little icky and uncomfortable, but if you can allow yourself to get past that I think it has turned into something really interesting.

Since Zoe is staying with Julia and Joel, they’re trying to be sensitive to the emotions she might be feeling as someone who is about to give up her child. Julia tried to shield her from the nursery, but Zoe’s a smart chick and knew what was going on. And it’s all so messy and complicated. On the one hand, Julia really is concerned for Zoe’s well-being and doesn’t want to cause her any emotional distress. But she’s also concerned for herself and her family, concerned that Zoe will change her mind about the adoption before the baby is born. It’s a totally normal fear, and it’s something that all prospective adopting parents go through. Even though the papers have been signed, nothing is for sure and there’s still a lot of anxiety about whether you are indeed going to have a baby. I like that the writers have allowed these concerns to emerge subtly.

The birthing class Julia and Zoe went to was awful, because the teacher kept talking about how the pain of childbirth would be worth it since holding your child for the first time is the best feeling in the world. Yikes. Zoe also gave some input into the colors Julia was thinking about painting the baby’s room, and later she asked Julia to give the baby a watch that had been her grandfather’s. What I hope, as I’ve said before, is that the show isn’t steering towards Zoe reconsidering adoption but instead Zoe reconsidering open adoption. Would she want to be a part of the baby’s life? Would Julia and Joel be OK with that? How do the logistics of that work? I know there are families who have open adoptions like this, but I know so little about it. I think if the writers approached the topic with the same amount of care and research that they’ve approached having a child with Asperger’s, it could be a really interesting storyline for this family.


Bobby Little continues to make me uncomfortable. It’s obvious that he’s into Amber – and yeah, she’s awesome. But how old is she? Nineteen? How old is he? Thirty? Even with the campaign work aside, it seems too inappropriate. That said, I like the rest of this storyline.

I like that Amber is excelling in her job in a very realistic way. She doesn’t have a post-secondary education (yet), so she show had to be careful not to make her success seem too easy. Instead, I think they’ve done a good job at excelling at tasks that are all personality based. She’s honest, we learned that in the last episode. She also has a great work initiative – I’ve worked in fundraising and knowing names of and personal details about the people you need to hit up for money is a very important skill. And it seems as though Amber is a good writer – something that higher education can help with, but also tends to be an inherent skill some people have. She’s good with people (watching her keep the drunk guy occupied was priceless) and she knows how to be someone’s right-hand gal.

Meanwhile, I also like how Kristina is being treated. She’s good at her job, but still in a slightly awkward Kristina-ish way (like how she stayed at the podium just a little too long after introducing Bob Little). She works hard and misses Nora, and I’m glad the show hasn’t glossed over the fact that a working mom might really miss her new baby who’s at home. Yet, I really don’t feel like the show has judged Kristina for her decision at all or suggested that she should feel guilty. I think she seems happy, and I like that.

I think my favorite thing about this episode was that the writers somehow managed to deliver storylines for all the main characters without any of them feeling underdeveloped or inadequate. What did you guys think?


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