She Said, She Said: Thoughts on Parenthood’s “Happy Birthday, Zeek”

Episode Overall

Sarita:

Just like last season, this season’s premiere did not have an even pace and was choppy /too rushed in certain areas.  However, the subsequent episode returned to normal episode. The storytelling felt tighter and the plot lines integrated with each other very well.

Jordan:

I agree. This episode only had characters in it that needed to be there. It was great to be able to spend a little extra time with the characters relevant to the plot. And then they had a reason for everyone to be there for Zeek’s party.

parenthood zeek and norah

Things We loved…

Sarita:

The opening scene, which picks up after Amber tells Sarah about her pregnancy.   The scene was a perfect example of Mae and Lauren’s expert ability to use facial expressions and body posture (rather than words) to set a scene’s tone.   The initial and intermittent silence between Sarah and Amber was the perfect mode to convey both characters’ conflicted and intense emotions.

Jordan:

I too loved that scene. Sarah’s legitimately scared for her daughter, as all mom’s are wont to do. But she also believes in her and knows she’s going to make the right decision.

Sarita:

How cute were all the younger Bravermans in this episode?   The cuteness was spread throughout the episode, starting with Nora interacting with Adam in the kitchen, to the kids singing in Crosby and Adam’s studio, and finally the grandchildren dancing with their whole family at Zeke’s birthday party. Scenes like these remind me why this show is so special – each week it reminds me of the joy of being in an extended family.

Sarita:

I’m glad that Joel and Julia are still aren’t together as a couple but are coming together as parents. The problems between them last year was not only good to show in terms of how marriages fail, but also in terms of how difficult it is to parent as a split couple. The challenge the two face is that Sidney’s behavior is direct result of their problems, and they are unsure of how to fix it.   While I am not usually a fan of Sidney, somehow I could better understand her brattines in this episode compared to earlier seasons.  Her anger felt natural, not only due to  her having to deal with a tough situation, but also since she is  in the awkward pre-teen/teen emotional period that many of us had to face.

Jordan:

Sydney is going to be the best tv teenager. Too bad we won’t see her at that stage. I understand Sydney’s actions and her need to act out, but Joel and Julia also have to stop babying her and discipline her before she becomes too much of a problem.

Sarita:

I was also a big fan of Julia’s speech to Joel. He suddenly wanted to talk about the relationship when for months he refused Julia’s pleading to do so. I am glad she called him out on it and how out of character it was for him to give up on her.  While Julia is still not absolved from her own contributions to the marriage failure, Joel definitely needs reminder that she at least tried to work it out while he didn’t.

Jordan:

Yeah, I was sort of rooting for Julia in that moment. She finally spoke up and told Joel the truth, something she needed to do for months now. Their roles are sort of reversed this season, with Joel trying to repair the damage while Julia shuts him out. However, they both have so much to work through and one talk isn’t enough. I hope they get it all out soon and continue those passionate yelling sessions. I hope they can get back together but it’s also realistic that they would stay apart, too.

Parenthood

Sarita:

Crosby and Adam are my favorite characters as individuals but definitely become even more entertaining when they have scenes together.   Even though the brothers were arguing about a serious matter – their father’s health- I found the scenes in which Adam and Crosby are fighting the studio and in Adam’s car to be highly funny.  I also related to Crosby’s frustration that no one ever tells him anything; Adam found out from his mom about Zeek not wanting surgery and Crosby doesn’t know until Adam tells him. Crosby then complains to Adam that everyone treats him like  baby and I shook my head in agreement, as I have faced that  in the past as I am also the youngest (Crosby isn’t technically the youngest but is second youngest).

Jordan:

My favorite scene of the night was Amber and Zeek on the front porch. She couldn’t wait to tell him her news, and her face showed the nervous excitement. That scared look of Mae Whitman’s disappeared the moment Zeek smiled and held her in his arms. What a lovely, powerful moment. All too often people tell you the bad about having a new baby and he just told her how wonderful and joyous the whole thing is. That sigh of relief on Amber’s face was really something to witness, especially after her mom’s reaction was less than what she wanted it to be. Before I had my son everyone told me how terrible having a newborn is and no one told me that it would be the best time of my life. Zeek’s so excited about becoming a great grandfather, but he finally realized that he’ll never see this baby be born if he doesn’t get the surgery.

Things we didn’t love…

Sarita:

Kristina was not very supportive of Adam in this episode.  While I understood Kristina was going through a mini-crisis with the lunch vendor issue, I found it odd that she didn’t seem to be concerned with Adam’s worry about his Dad’s not wanting surgery.

Jordan:

I generally like Kristina, but sometimes she makes her problems bigger than everyone else’s. The way she told the lady on the phone how her father-in-law wasn’t well, right in front of his face, was just so out of character. Very inconsiderate. I did, however, love their little scene at the end where they encouraged each other and held each other.

Parenthood

Sarita:

Also, I am still not buying the charter school storyline.  First, it is unrealistic for Kristina to get a charter school approved and opened within two months.  Given red tape and other local politics, schools do not open that quickly.   Secondly, wasn’t Max’s teacher supposed to run the school?  Did he disappear after Julia slept with him?  Technically, the principal and the assistant principal would handle things like lunch vendors. Therefore, is Kristina the principal? I have a hard time thinking that school officials would allow Kristina, without a PhD or Masters in Education, to manage the school.

Jordan:

Good point on Max’s old teacher. Also: I come from a family of teachers but have no idea how these charter schools work. I’m assuming she’s the “head master” or superintendent, but do those types of things need their educators to be properly licensed? No idea. She does seem woefully under qualified, though.

Sarita:

I’m not liking that we are seeing Jasmine relegated to a background character. Her role was small in Season five and has gotten even smaller this season so far. It seems that once she and Crosby got married, her only purpose was to serve as development for Crosby.  This same thing happened to Joel for the first fours seasons, until season five allowed him to have more prominence. I hope season six does for Jasmine as Season Five did for  Joel – enable Jasmine to have more of a voice.

Jordan:

Another thing I didn’t like is how Adam and Kristina are treating Max. They made this school for him, yet dismiss his requests in favor or the other kids. Literally Max’s only hobby is photography and instead of creating a photography elective (have Hank teach it!), they make him cook in the kitchen with Adam? That’s the last thing he would ever want to do. Isn’t this school all about embracing your creativity and standing out? Why stifle that creativity and make him even more unhappy than when he was at his regular school?

Image credit NBC

About Jordan Hickman

When I was in high school, I was watching The X Files in the closet of our basement when I was supposed to be sleeping. My dad caught me and he laughed at me. It was then I knew TV would quickly become an obsession of mine. TV is in a golden era right now, and I'm so thrilled to be along for the ride. I started this website because writing is also a passion of mine and I wanted to combine the two. I'm also a wife and mom, which means I'm not always timely in getting reviews in.

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