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Parenthood – “Election Day”

I didn’t have a chance to write about Parenthood last week because of conflicting non-TV related events, but I really wanted to. Last week’s “The Ring” was a great episode… minus the election stuff, which really hasn’t been anyone’s favorite storyline I think.

Which is why I was glad to see it wrap up this week. But I loved everything else last week.

Zeke coping with life alone and confusing Skype conversations with Camille was both funny and completely heartbreaking. I liked how it tied in nicely with Sarah’s small, but meaningful storyline of getting up the nerve to attend a party instead of haning’ with her old man.

Amber and Ryan’s storyline was uncomfortable, like most of their material has been this season. You could feel the tension in their relationship building, and knew it was over so much more than the engagement ring.

But the most heartbreaking thing last week was Victor’s reaction to the news that he was being sent back to fourth grade. I almost lost it, it was so sad. I was worried Joel and Julia’s storyline would be a very cliched story of adultery this season, but I was silly to think Parenthood would be that typical. Instead, it’s been a horrifying picture of a marriage going through incredibly rough times. I actually feel nervous watching it, because their problems are so raw and real.

Now, on to this week – a very big episode.

Let’s Vote!

Alright, the election. We’re all relieved, right? Parenthood stayed within the realm of reason, but still kept things warm by having Kristina lose a close race. It was a very Parenthood thing to do, and it went well, and I’m glad the election storyline is over. We got some nice moments out of the actual voting day. A funny disagreement between Jasmine and Crosby that, for once, left me on the side of Team Jasmine. A touching moment when Kristina’s friend from chemotherapy showed up to vote. The whole family together for a party as the results came in.

* The complete lack of mentions of Haddie was rather conspicuous here.

So where does Kristina go from here? Will Bob Little offer her a job in education? It will be interesting to see what the next phase is for her character, since it’s only November.

Max & Hank

Max’s storyline was very sweet and well-executed this week. As he hits his teenage years, there’s a wealth of material for the show to work with. This week, it was Max asking out Hank’s teenage daughter. Hank bungled the whole awkward situation so badly that, when he went to Sarah for advice, she laughed. Max’s friendship with Hank has been a great reason to keep those two in touch without rushing a reconnection. Hank’s talk with Max, about how conversations and connections are just hard for guys like them, was one of my favorite moments of the episode.

Julia & Joel

Like I mentioned above in my thoughts on last week’s episode, the Julia and Joel stuff has been much better than I originally anticipated. Pete and Ed aren’t romantic threats so much as these threats lingering in the background as their marriage struggles for other reasons. The writers have done a good job of making both characters at once the villain and sympathetic. Joel is being overly-stoic and shutting Julia out. Julia is being self-involved and forgetting that Joel used to be in her shoes. But when Julia was working, raising Sydney wasn’t as complicated and trying as raising Sydney and Victor. It’s all so complicated! They disagree over Victor, they aren’t communicating, and they aren’t flourishing in their new roles. It’s so hard to watch, but I think the writers and actors are doing a great job here.

Amber & Ryan

If I had one complaint about this episode, it’s that the Ryan thing ends too abruptly. What had slowly been building for weeks with them went totally bananas in this episode. Ryan is secretly taking pills, he’s moody and closed off, possessive of Amber’s time and uninterested in her work life. And Amber was totally blind to it, too in love with the guy to realize that he’s holding her back. At 22 years old, you should be able to go for a drink after work without worrying about making your husband mad.

I expected things to come to a breaking point, but Ryan’s blowup was even worse than I expected. He came to pick Amber up at a bar, saw one of the musicians touching her arm and rudely grabbed her to leave. In the next second, he was beating the crap out of the poor guy as Amber screamed for him to stop. And then Amber was sobbing in Zeke’s arms in the police station.

…and then Amber was at an election party for her aunt. So, is Ryan still in jail? Will the cutie from the band press charges? Is Amber going to dump him? I understand that Kristina’s party was important, but I didn’t buy that Amber could just shake it all off and show up with a smile on her face because, family. I’m sure it’ll be handled in the next episode, but it felt too abrupt. (But oh boy, do I really hope Amber dumps Ryan. I know I know PTSD and stand by your man and it’s TERRIBLE that I think “He has issues and is holding her back” but, guys, it’s the worst.)

Stray thoughts:

  • I like how awkward everyone’s being about Drew’s Friend With Benefits.
  • Will Ryan’s outburst mess things up for The Luncheonette?
  • I’ll miss Heather.

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