Wow. Only three episodes into the new season, and Parenthood is already killing it with the emotional material. I thought “Everything Is Not OK” was so good, and moved at a perfect pace. Kristina’s health scare is very real, and it’s moving quickly just like it would in real life – at an overwhelming pace, with important decisions being made as quickly as possible – yet, the show still managed to really focus in on important details. I read online that Jason Katims’ own wife is a breast cancer survivor. Katims and his wife also have a son with Asperger’s, and once again I think he’s been able to really use his own life experiences to create a harshly realistic, moving piece of television.
Kristina and Adam
A lot of the episode focused on Kristina and the couple of weeks after getting her breast cancer diagnosis. She went to a highly recommended doctor, only to find him rather abrasive and not at all comforting. Adam was on edge, quickly alternating between enthusiastic declarations of “Everything will be OK” and strong opinions on the doctor.Of course, all with the best intentions – this is Adam at his most protective, just wanting to make everything OK for his wife.
At first, I was with Adam. I think bedside manner is important, and the doctor Kristina saw wasn’t delivering important information to her in a way that felt easy to understand. I felt like Adam was focusing too much on waiting an additional two hours for the appointment, but the guy didn’t seem too invested in making sure Kristina understood everything that was going on – the diagnosis, the impending surgery, why it was important to schedule one quickly, the steps that would be taken if the surgery didn’t eliminate the cancer, etc.
I felt like the new doctor they saw was a little too good to be true, with her offers of lattes and her office that looked more like a beauty clinic than a doctor’s office. But what I really enjoyed was the conversation Kristina had with another cancer patient, Gwen. (Played by Rose Abdoo, who was a recurring cast member on Gilmore Girls as Gypsy and has appeared more recently on Bunheads.) It felt very honest and natural. We knew Kristina and Adam hadn’t told anyone yet, and Kristina was having a hard time keeping up with Adam’s relentless optimism. She needed to unload. I’d like to see the friendship develop over more episodes. The Bravermans really stick together, but it would be nice to see someone in the family have an outside friendship.
I liked that the first person Adam (kind of) told was Amber, because it was unexpected. But it was a great example of how hard it is to wait to deliver that kind of news, or to hide something that big. Adam snapped at Amber for no reason, he was a big jerk to her, and then he demanded she go pick up his kid from school when she was supposed to be job shadowing Crosby. He treated her like a personal assistant, not someone who is there to help out, but also to learn. It was all with very good reason, but when you haven’t revealed those reasons people won’t understand. So Amber was upset, and spoke to him about it. Mae Whitman is such a good actress, and her reaction t hearing that her aunt is sick was heartbreaking. She didn’t have any other details, but she knew it was serious. Amber has been through her fair share of rough times, and Mae Whitman has been fantastic in portraying those. But it will be nice to see her shine at this new, more grownup stage in life, where she can be a real support to Adam and Kristina during a difficult time. I couldn’t help but think that Max’s decision to run for student council had a lot to do with Amber.
Sarah, Crosby and Julia
The other storylines this week were much lighter, since Kristina’s health crisis is so heavy and consuming. Sarah continued to clash with Hank, and you can tell that Mark is beginning to notice just how much he gets under her skin. There wasn’t a lot to this storyline, but I love how Parenthood can artfully portray little things, like issues at work that just really, really bug you. I think we’ve all probably been there. Ray Romano continues to be funny and charming, and I love his rapport with Lauren Graham.
The stuff with Zeek and the car was pretty funny, though I thought Julia’s reaction was a little overboard. I thought Zeek getting pulled over for making an illegal u-turn, and then getting arrested for being lippy with the cop with all the grandkids in the car, was hilarious. But I thought Julia’s reaction was a bit over the top, so not all of the material there worked for me.
So far I think Parenthood is off to a fantastic start, and I think it’s only going to get better as Adam and Kristina deal with telling their children and the rest of the family the bad news. What did you guys think of “Everything Is Not OK”?