|Cee-Lo at The Luncheonette|
Wow, Mr. F— You himself comes to town, and Adam just up and forgets about his wife and newborn baby? Nice, real nice.
Just kidding, Adam Braverman! Actually, I was worried that Cee-Lo Green’s appearance on Parenthood would be too unrealistic, too forced and too The Voice promotional crossover, but I actually ended up kind of liking the storyline. The pressure of having a big-name performer record in their studio really amplified the tensions that come with starting a new business and highlighted some key differences between Adam and Crosby.
Adam is a guy who’s pretty much always had things work out for him. Sure, he lost his job recently, but he’s also lucky enough to have the supportive wife and financial stability needed to take that opportunity to start a risky, exciting business venture. So Adam is the kind of guy that will say “Sure, we can have the studio ready by Wednesday!” Crosby is not that guy. Crosby is used to screwing things up, usually for himself. But now it’s just not him, he’s got his brother’s future riding on this too and that brother has three children all with very important needs. And, let’s face it, this business endeavor is riding a lot more on Crosby than Adam. Crosby’s the guy who knows the business, who has the talent. If the recording studio bombs, Crosby will feel like it was all his fault. That’s a ton of pressure, and that’s why I think we saw Crosby kind of buckling under it this week.
For most of the episode, things didn’t go well for the Braverman boys and Cee-Lo Green. He did take after take after take and was never satisfied with the sound. When he left, Crosby was sure they’d been fired. But wait! This is Parenthood, and this is Adam Braverman, and things work out. It turned out that Cee-Lo had been dissatisfied with his own performance and with the arrangement of the song, and returned the next day to record a different, more soulful version. Yay! Let’s cheers with some lemonade! Even though I’m not a fan of Very Special Guest Stars and wouldn’t want to see a celebrity-of-the-week situation develop on Parenthood, I thought this particular storyline did a really good job of introducing us to Adam and Crosby as business partners. They clash sometimes, but their different skills and outlooks complement each other.
Because Adam was working like a dog at the studio, it meant that Kristina was home alone with the baby for the first few days after returning from the hospital. It was a lousy situation, but Adam making The Luncheonette a success is what’s best for the family in the long run, and Kristina knew it. She was overwhelmed, but she never complained. Now, Haddie is the one that disappointed me. Sure, she didn’t ask her mom to read over her college essay – she knew Kristina didn’t have time, but Kristina insisted. But she moped about it when Kristina fell asleep on top of her paper. (Sidenote: Don’t people worry that they’ll roll over on top of the baby when they sleep beside it in a double bed?) My main problem with Haddie was that we didn’t really see her helping out at all. She came home to a messy kitchen and an exhausted mother and…was upset about her essay? Ask Julia to read it over, she went to college too! Haddie’s basically an adult now, and she’s come a long way in terms of maturity since we met her in season one. I want to see her stepping up to help her mom out around the house now that there’s a new baby and Adam’s busy with the recording studio. She’s old enough to know what’s going on, and the “woe is me, my mom doesn’t have time for me” thing feels a little Season One Haddie.
I thought this was a really strong episode because all the storylines worked and many of the characters had opportunities to shine. In particular, I really like what’s happening with Sarah. After she picked a bloodied and drunk Seth up from…wherever he was, a dumpster I suppose, she realized he was in a really bad place. The guy wanted to take his kids out for breakfast and he looked like his face had just been run over by a car. So she gave him an ultimatum – he couldn’t see the kids unless he managed to get himself some help. I was happy to see Sarah be strong and do what was right for her kids. Zeek said last week that she’s never known how to deal with Seth, but I think this week she showed that she’s learned how to navigate through things a bit better. She knew it wouldn’t be good for Amber or Drew to see their dad in such a state, and the fact that Seth couldn’t realize that was a bad sign.
Luckily, Seth started to see that more clearly as well and returned to tell Sarah that he was ready to seek professional help. The problem, as it so often is, is that state-run facilities have huge waiting lists and private facilities have huge price tags. Before Sarah could even ask her parents for money, Zeek was criticizing her choice to support Seth in his wish to go to rehab. I understand where Zeek is coming from. He’s seen Seth put him family through way too much and has no reason to trust the guy anymore. But still, Seth going to rehab and getting clean is what’s best for Zeek’s grandchildren. Whether Seth and Sarah are involved or not, he’s always going to be Amber and Drew’s dad. And if he can get clean and be a reliable presence in their lives, then that’s a positive thing.
Sarah went to the only other person she could think of to ask for the money – Julia. And Julia agreed to do it. And then Joel got to say more than three words! If you’ve read my Parenthood reviews before, you might know that I love Joel and consider him to be my make-believe TV husband. It has nothing to do with his looks, or the fact that he would hypothetically build me a house, or that he’s a stay-at-home dad. I just really like his character, and even though Julia and Joel haven’t always gotten the strongest material on this show, I’ve always admired their marriage. OK, they’re no Coach and Tami Taylor, but of all the relationships on this show I like theirs the best. Joel is so supportive, and funny, and he barely speaks but I really like him. Anyway, that was rambling but the Joel-lovers will know what I’m getting at. During dinner with Zeek, Camille and Sarah, Joel quietly told Sarah that he was totally on board with the decision to give Sarah the money, and happy to help out. It was sweet and well-intentioned, but poorly timed since Sarah hadn’t told her parents about the money. Zeek freaked out, and then Joel politely told him to basically shove it.
I just thought everything about this storyline was really well executed. The scene where Sarah had to ask her little sister for money was heartbreaking, and I loved seeing Joel take a stand on behalf of his wife’s decision and Sarah’s choice to support Seth. And he also stood up for his and Julia’s decision to adopt Zoe’s baby – a choice that Zeek and Camille had voiced their skepticism about. The problem with Zeek is that he really loves his family, but he doesn’t know when to stop butting in and when to just shut up and be supportive. Sure, the coffee cart baby thing is crazy – we all know that – but if Julia and Joel feel good about it, then Zeek shouldn’t be trying to talk them out of it. They know what’s best for their family.
Sarah doesn’t just have to worry about money when it comes to Seth entering rehab. She has to think about herself and her kids, too. Mark is basically one of the best guys ever and continued to be crazy supportive and trusting, even when he found Seth’s cigarettes in Sarah’s bed. She told him what had happened, and that she’d let Seth sleep in the bed with her for a couple hours, and he accepted it. Obviously he didn’t love it, but he trusts Sarah. And Mark understands Sarah’s need to help Seth now that he’s made this big decision, too. It’s the right thing to do for her children, and he wouldn’t expect any less of her. But he doesn’t like it. Who would? It puts a lot of strain on their relationship. I really hope Sarah and Mark try to stay together through this, because I really like them together and I like Jason Ritter on this show.
Sarah and Seth giving Amber and Drew the news was another really touching scene. I think just from the look on Amber’s face, you could tell that she was worried about Sarah and what she was getting into. As we know from last season, Amber has a much more difficult relationship with her father than Drew does, and I think it will be difficult for her to balance wanting to be supportive of what’s basically the first good decision Seth has ever made and wanting to protect her mom, who’s finally got a great guy in her life and has some stability. Amber has always tried to push her mom to take herself seriously and pursue her own dreams, and I think we’ll see her worrying about how this thing with Seth could hurt Sarah. Even Sarah seemed hesitant, as Seth told the kids “It’s going to be tough, but we’ll do it as a family,” and reached for Sarah’s hand. Is there a way for Sarah to be there for Seth without giving him the impression that all is forgiven and they can live happily ever after? Does he think there’s a chance for the two of them once he’s made it through rehab? It’s going to be very difficult for Sarah to be there for Seth while still maintaining a certain distance, so I’m really intrigued by where this storyline will take us. (If this storyline actually takes us to Sarah giving Seth another chance romantically though, I’m going to be one annoyed viewers. Don’t let me down, Katims.)
This was all pretty heavy stuff, but there was a cute, funny subplot to lighten the episode – Drew’s goal of kissing his girlfriend (or girl friend) Amy. I love that Drew’s getting more material this season, and I think he’s doing really well with it. He’s a shy kid who comes from this loud, boisterous family, and I like seeing how that plays out for him in different ways. Who better to ask for kissing advice than his bold, confident sister? Amber telling Drew how to go in for the kiss was a really nice moment because the writers managed to make it funny, not creepy. There was nothing about how much tongue to use, Amber just helped Drew understand how to know when the moment was right, and gave him a much-needed boost in self-confidence.