Over the past several years, Parenthood has been one of my favorite shows. I love the ensemble cast, the family drama, the familiarity of so many of the problems these characters face.
It’s one of the few dramas I watch that isn’t about a complicated anti-hero, and I love it for that. Even when Parenthood makes creative decisions that I’m not crazy about, I still enjoy the show overall.
This final season was a bit of a struggle. In particular, I don’t think I’m alone in hating the storyline about Kristina’s school. I’ve detailed my issues with it in previous blog posts and won’t repeat myself, but boy am I glad that the school has not appeared in either of the two episodes we’ve seen so far in January. There are two more episodes left, and I’ll be thrilled if we never hear about the school again.
These final four episodes will be how I remember the last season of Parenthood. The first part of the season was not only filled with that dang school and a sexual harassment storyline involving Max and a classmate that went awfully awry, but there were budget issues that meant the cast fled separately a lot. Now, we’re back to having all the Bravermans in one space a lot of the time.
I knew these episodes would pack an emotional punch, since they’ve centered so much around Zeek and his health. Oof. They’ve definitely been emotional, and in particular the scenes with Drew and his grandfather have killed me.
“How Did We Get Here?” was such a good episode, and we saw the four Braverman kids all trying to deal with Big Life Stuff while Zeek was in the hospital, unsure of what the outcome would be. The robbing of The Luncheonette was an opportunity to explore how differently Adam and Crosby feel about the family business. Crosby wants to rebuild, Adam wants to use the insurance money as an escape plan.
Julia and Joel were considering reuniting, and Hank realized he wanted to make things official with Sarah. I really loved Ray Romano in this episode – the way he kept assessing how perfect a guy Joel is couldn’t have been more fitting. One of the reasons the Joel and Julia separation storyline never really worked was because it felt too out of character for Joel. He is kind of this unbelievably nice, superhuman guy and it was funny to see someone like Hank watch him and feel inferior.
“Let’s Go Home” brought a bit of normalcy back to the show, since everyone wasn’t gathered together at the hospital. Our characters, though, are still coping with the big decisions ahead of them. Zeek must decide whether he wants to risk surgery – and the underlying acceptance that he might die soon either way is subtle and heartbreaking.
Sarah was debating Hank’s impromptu proposal in a way that was much more cautious and pragmatic than we’ve ever seen her. I like the growth it showed in her character, and I like that Camille was able to remind her that ultimately, what matters is love and happiness. That scene between with Camille and Sarah was really well done – I loved how it exuded so much history that, though it predates the beginning of the show, we as an audience could still understand.
When Sarah arrived at Amber’s apartment to find her daughter asleep and Hank quietly assembling the massive crib that Amber’s dad had sent, she accepted his proposal. It was a lovely moment that really suited the characters, and I’m glad that Sarah is ending up with Hank. I’m still not convinced that Amber, in that tiny, terrible apartment, is at all ready to be a mom. But Mae Whitman has acted the hell out of this storyline, and I particularly loved the scene in “How Did We Get Here?” where the Braverman women threw a beautifully supportive, loving baby shower for Amber.
I’m also glad that Julia and Joel have reconciled. There are a lot of ways in which this storyline seemed mishandled, but I thought their reconciliation was well done. Both characters admitted to the roles they played in hurting their marriage, and they handled a reunion carefully enough, debating how long their should wait before telling the kids – until they finally just gave in and realized that they no longer want to be apart. Watching the two kiss in front of their kids at he skating rink was a really sweet moment.
The other big decision was whether Adam would stick it out at The Luncheonette. Adam was stuck between his own desire to get out from under the stress of running a struggling business, and his desire to be there for his brother. I was annoyed at Kristina for sort of pressuring Adam into calling it quits. Maybe it’s because I hate her stupid school, but I couldn’t help but think that Kristina would be pleased as punch if her husband could quit that little hobby of a business and run the Chambers Academy cafeteria full time.
One more thing I loved was Zeek deciding to let his prized baseball remain at the old house, hidden in the rafters of the barn where he’d left it. Zeek’s reluctance to sell the house and change his life was such a big part of his storyline with Camille, and something he never fully accepted even after he’d committed to it. He didn’t just let go of the baseball, he let go of the house. Sure, it was a little on-the-nose for a character who is facing death – but this is the kind of thing that Parenthood has always been able to do well.
- Drew has killed me in these past two episodes. My heart broke for him when his car wouldn’t start and he needed to get to the hospital, and again when he finally had a chance to apologize to Zeek for ruining the surprise trip to France. But, dammit, I really wanted Zeek to apologize too. He never should have yelled at Drew like that, or put him in that position in the first place. But Zeek is a flawed man.
- Do we think Ryan will show up in one of the final two episodes? I kind of like the idea of Amber raising the baby on her own because it’s more realistic. I don’t think Ryan could kick his pill addiction this fast.
- Instagram photos have suggested to be that, yes, we will get to see Haddie and acknowledge her existence before the series ends.
- I’m OK if we don’t see Ruby again.