Contrary to the episode title, there are barely any victories conquered here…
The latest installment of Parenthood tackles teen pregnancy, among other things, and surprisingly does not fall into PSA after school special territory. The multitude of big losses in this episode does not ring victorious, and the various Braverman families attempting to deal with these big losses only seem to be hitting one dramatic, and occasionally emotional wall after another. Drew and Amy’s sexual escapades turn serious, Julia seems to be giving up on Victor’s adoption, Adam and Kristina attempt to help Max understand the many facets of puberty, and Crosby continues to be impatient as his mother-in-law remains an inconvenience. What victories can come out of that?
We all knew it had to happen sooner or later, and it finally did. Parenthood’s teen pregnancy episode, full of the light drama and real life concerns that make the show such a unique drama series. Drew has had quite an eventful senior year, hasn’t he? The horrific nightmare that accompanies the surprise of babies having babies not only unhinges Amy, but Drew, which sets Mark into action when he goes to talk about it with Sarah. It seems like a very convenient excuse to go see one’s ex-lover and fiancée, and Sarah’s day seems brightened when Mark comes through the door. She’s stunned and shocked to see the prince-like teacher again, and she should. I was even happy to see Mark again, and I’ve previously announced my shipping allegiance to Hank and Sarah. Clearly, this love triangle is being meticulously set up for the last few episodes of the season. That said, it’s a bit ridiculous how Sarah has to always have a messenger to inform her about her kids. It’s like she’s so oblivious to them half the time. I guess her romance with Hank has her off guard these days.
Drew and Amy’s storyline carries the tone of the episode which is mostly somber, dramatically ambiguous and full of disparate emotions. Drew being the sweet, stoic and sensitive young man that he is, it doesn’t take long for the emotion to set in. It’s a thank God moment, when he finally goes to his mom for comfort. Amy has an abortion, although it’s made clear that Drew is against the idea. However, Amy has a right to choose for herself and her body, and Drew is respectful of that. Once again, the two teens split over an incident mostly out of their control. This storyline just barely slips past being an after school special on the wavering issues of teen pregnancy, by handling the material with subtly and not rambunctiously rocking the controversial boat, although I might have liked a bit more if they did. Right now, Drew may have some issues finishing his senior year with this incident on his mind. And Sarah? Well, she’s put herself in the middle of a love triangle she might not be able to get herself out of without making a decision that will ultimately break at least one man’s heart.
Julia’s situation doesn’t get any better. From horrible to complete worst, Victor’s acting out becomes more awkward and hard to watch as Julia tries everything she can think of to calm this undesirable parental position. No parent wants to deal with a troubling child, constantly berating them and their other child with insults and even calling to police on them over a small incident that happened out of anger. The desperation on Julia’s face as she comes to an end on how to deal with this distressing side of her adopted son is painful. The entire storyline is painful to watch, as this domestic battle between adoptive mother and adopted son wages and becomes poisonous for everyone around them. Joel seems adamant to keep at it and fix the situation; however, Julia is at the end of her rope, and I can’t say I blame her. Parenting is difficult enough without all of the extra animosity being thrown at you. Victor is beyond insufferable in this installment alone to the point that I‘m wondering if Julia and Victor can ever go back to having a good mother-son relationship at all. The life-altering decision of Victor’s fate is left in Joel and Julia’s hands now, and we’ll just have to see how the two parents decide on the next parenting plan of action…
Perhaps not as stressful, yet altering is Crosby’s new living situation. We all knew it wouldn’t be easy for the guy as his mother-in-law moved in, but his impatience has now started some semblance of a passive-aggressive war in the house, that could also grow to be poisonous. It’s a rather basic tale of a man’s growing frustration with parts of his spouse’s family, but it’s just as interesting as the others. Jasmine’s mother continues her job search and is considerably picky about what she accepts after thirty years at her previous job, which is understandable. One tends to cling to what they are use to; however, the aspects of our disastrous economy do not hold up to her expectations. Crosby is all about getting Jasmine’s mother out as soon as possible and I can’t say I blame him. Although, I love the fact that Renee is not portrayed as the horrible mother-in-law coming into her kids’ home purposely inconveniencing them, but as an actual individual with disappointments and real concerns about what the future may hold for her. As simple as it is, I’m kind of loving how this storyline is developing into a learning situation for both parties!
Lastly, there was Max and his odd journey into puberty. We all know it: The smells, finding hair in new and odd places, viewing individuals of the opposite sex in new and exciting ways, and other appropriately inappropriate things. Adam and Kristina push Max to take more showers as these new changes start to take affect and in order to do so, they must reach Max’s level and explain to him in great detail the changes coming in his life. This storyline provides some much needed humor and heart in an otherwise heavy episode. I even laughed out loud when Zeek and Camille come over and start discussing the many horrific facets of puberty with Max and Kristina, from first ejaculation to menstruation. And also when Kristina blatantly asks Adam when he had his first adolescent erection. Adam has “the puberty talk” with Max and it turns out quite well given the occasional obstacles that Max‘s Asperger‘s syndrome can cause; although, Adam is worried that Max does not consider himself ready to talk about girls. But maybe now isn’t the time for that. Right now Adam and Kristina are content on celebrating their latest small victory: Max finally taking more than two showers a week!
Another excellent installment of Parenthood, as it reaches its season’s end with only two more episodes left! Managing to pull off a teen pregnancy/abortion storyline with subtly and light dramatic emotion without becoming a melodramatic PSA is a great achievement. Setting up a love triangle that has even become a little hard for me to choose from is also something that I would consider a small victory. The final two installments promise to be packed of drama and heart and I can’t wait to see them! “Small Victories” gets 4 out of 5 stars!
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