Parenthood has been one of my favorite shows for a few years. I admire its tenacity and how extraordinarily real it feels. But it’s never been something I look forward to watching. I don’t get anxious during the week waiting for a new episode. When I do, however, watch a new episode, I’m totally hooked. I’m in awe that the show continually hooks me in, even after all these years.
And wouldn’t you know it, but Parenthood got me again. I’ve resigned to the fact that I WILL cry during an episode of Parenthood. That’s just a given. I don’t even fight it anymore. I was a little worried about tonight’s episode because after 57 minutes I hadn’t shed one tear. But then that happened, and I was a goner. Ughhhhhh. I hate you, show.
For those of you who don’t watch this glorious show, tonight’s season five premiere was a great jumping in point. Last year was easily the strongest season yet, and the praise they got was well deserved. Season five starts off around 8 months after we last saw the Bravermans. Kristina’s no longer defined by her bought with cancer, but rather inspired by it as she sets out to run for mayor of Berkeley. It’s a very silly plot but Monica Potter sold it during her conversation with Adam and Gwen. This isn’t something I’m particularly looking forward to, especially since it goes against everything we know about Kristina’s character.
The premiere was so stuffed and messy, which isn’t normally a criticism I have with Parenthood. I mean, so much happened tonight and most of it was really good. But it felt harried and rushed, no matter that it succeed in making me cry.
Let’s talk about that first, shall we? Matt Lauria returns as Ryan, who has been called back up to active duty. Amber spends most of the episode worrying about him and scared for him. In its final seconds — literally the last few seconds of the episode, guys — Ryan sees Amber during a Welcome Home ceremony and he immediately gets down on one knee and proposes to her. The show really uses Mae Whitman extremely well and whenever they let her cry we get some of the most beautiful moments of the series. Whitman and Lauria have incredible chemistry and as the episode fades out (scored to Josh Radin’s “My My Love”) there’s maybe a happy ending in store for Amber. Jason Katims is very good at writing drama, so in about three or for episodes we will get a whole bunch of “Ryber” drama leaving us in doubt where they stand in their relationship. Their kiss and hug was just too good and I really hope Matt Lauria stays around forever. I know these two are young, but make it happen Katims! What a lovely, surprising little scene that turned out to be. Also with a wonderful music choice, which this show mostly excels at.
Joel and Julia are still wondering where their money will come from as Joel bids on a housing development contract, while Julia still struggles to find a job. Her old boss can’t wait to smear her name for ruining a case, and as a result no one wants to hire her which she’s super bummed about. Joel, on the other hand, gets the contract and we fully expect there to be some tension between the Grahams when we see his new boss Pete has two X chromosomes. I hope they don’t add Pete as a temptation for Joel just to give him something to do. Joel and Julia have always been so wonderful together, and I hope I’m wrong about Pete’s involvement.
Sarah’s is now a building super and adjusting to life on her own and an empty nest. She misses Drew but has a bed, which she hasn’t had in four years. Making a return from Minnesota is Hank, Sarah’s post-Mark flame. I liked Hank, which is an unpopular opinion, and I love how seamlessly Ray Romano fits in with the rest of the cast. This time, however, he wasn’t used as a romantic plot device, but rather as a way of advancing Max’s storyline. Max Burkholder and Romano had several great scenes together last season and I loved that they brought Romano back in this vein. My second favorite scene in the episode was when Adam went to visit Hank to better understand why he’s back in town. Hank tells him it has nothing to do with Sarah, but rather that Max is actually a very good photographer. Adam’s demeanor totally changes from accusatory, protective brother to proud dad. So sweet, and Peter Krause is very good at doing things with his face. (Also, I totally love his bad dad haircut.) No matter what happens, I really hope Katins gives Sarah something to do other than have a love interest, because Lauren Graham really deserves better. We know that Sarah and Hank will eventually reunite, but as long as the two get storylines outside of a relationship with each other I will be happy.
Finally, while I understand and appreciate the Crosby and Jasmine story, I found it a little trite. Aida is a tough baby, we get it, but Jasmine getting pissed off at Crosby’s family — which, in extension, is also her family — was a total Jasmine move. She’s never been totally comfortable with all the Bravermans around, but she acted like this was the first time this has ever happened. I know she’s exhausted, but it just seemed a little out of character to me. I did love Crosby wondering why he wasn’t immediately in love with his daughter. Some wonderful reaction shots from Dax Shepard tonight.
Overall, it was another fine episode. Not as tight as it could have been, but the Parenthood premieres largely rely on lots of exposition. We now have a clear idea where most of our characters are headed this season and I look forward to most of them.
What were your thoughts? Have you missed this show since it went off the air last February?
Photos by Jordin Althaus/NBC