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TV Review: Parenthood – “Forced Family Fun”

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In this week’s installment of NBC’s Parenthood, “Forced Family Fun,” Kristina (Monica Potter), saddened by the way her family seems to be growing apart, makes the whole clan plan to spend an evening together. But stressed out by their complaining, she leaves them standing on the side of the road. Also, Krosby (Dax Shepard) is uncomfortable when Jabbar (Tyree Brown) spends time with Dr. Joe (DB Woodside), Julia (Erika Christensen) worries over Zoe’s (Rosa Salazar) diet, and Sarah (Lauren Graham) helps Seth (John Corbett) through rehab.

Kristina is right that a family needs to make time to spend together, and from her perspective, as of “Forced Family Fun,” they aren’t. Adam (Peter Krause) has the new business he’s trying to get off the ground with Crosby, Haddie (Sarah Ramos) is a senior preparing for college, and Max (Max Burkholder) is still adjusting to being in a mainstream class in a public school, so they are justifiably busy. While at home with the new baby by herself all day, Kristina’s not being too selfish to ask for a little time with the others. She isn’t even trying to get them to help out with the infant, something she probably needs, as being with someone who can’t talk all of the time is driving her a little crazy. Who can blame her?

It’s also understandable that Kristina has the reaction that she does, stranding Adam, Haddie, and Max on the side of the road, albeit, not far from where they live. The chastised relations do their best to make it up to their mother and wife, while Kristina apologizes for her rash actions. No one is really in the wrong more than the others, as Kristina does over react, and the others are trying to please her. Just normal, realistic family problems, with a little bit of early empty nest syndrome thrown in for good measure. They will work themselves out in time, per Parenthood‘s typical trend, and this is not a situation that bears worrying about.

Unlike, say, Julia’s baby issues. Having to watch someone like Zoe carry an unborn child that Julia is adopting is hard for the resident control freak of Parenthood. Joel (Sam Jaeger) tries to calm Julia, but both realize that they can’t let Zoe go on eating raw sushi all the time, as she does in “Forced Family Fun.” It’s just not good for the baby. Julia tries to appeal to Zoe’s sense, promising that she isn’t just speaking up because she is getting the baby. And she’s probably not. Julia is a warm-hearted individual, who cares for Zoe. But that doesn’t mean that Zoe isn’t offended when confronted.

Thankfully, Zoe ends up going over to Julia’s house for dinner, showing signs of forgiving the intrusion. She realizes Julia has her best interests at heart, and as Julia fears, Zoe has no one else. As such, it’s nice that Julia, and Joel, to a lesser extent, can be there to offer their support during Zoe’s pregnancy. Zoe may have been a stranger, but now she’s becoming quite close.

The worry here is, Zoe does not want an open adoption, and neither do Joel and Julia. What will happen if the three become very friendly, and one of the parties begins to change their mind? It makes sense for Zoe to have a relationship with her unborn child down the road, even though it will cause plenty of awkwardness and confusion, when she likes the family so much, and there are two mothers. But that could also interfere with the child’s development. It’s a tricky situation that bares careful consideration before any more major decisions are finalized.

Another serious event in this week’s Parenthood is Seth’s rehab. Sarah wants to be there for the father of her children, but her feelings do not just stem from sharing offspring. If they did, she wouldn’t have to be as involved as she is. And frankly, the kids are old enough to make up their own minds about their dad, and follow their own direction. In fact, Sarah is more into Seth’s recovery than either of their children. The fact of the matter is, Sarah obviously still harbors romantic feelings for Seth. Which may not exactly be healthy.

That’s why Zeek (Craig T. Nelson), shut out by Sarah for voicing his concerns, asks Adam to have a conversation with his sister in “Forced Family Fun.” Both men are worried about what getting back with Seth might mean for Sarah. Given Seth’s track record of disappointment and hurt, Sarah should definitely guard her heart if she wants to continue to see him. But shutting off emotion isn’t easy or natural for Sarah, and it’s much more likely that she will be deeply wounded if Seth slips again.

Furthermore, Sarah is already in a stable, healthy relationship with Mark (Jason Ritter) in Parenthood. Mark may be quite a but younger than Sarah, but they mesh really well. Mark is being supportive of the whole Seth situation, but he is also growing weary of the number of times he is put in second place for Sarah’s attentions. Who can blame him? Sarah already put Mark on hold before, and after reuniting, it really isn’t fair for her to keep stringing him along, no matter how sympathetic her dilemma is. Mark is the smarter, more mature choice to make, and Sarah needs to commit fully before she loses him. If she chooses Seth, she’ll probably end up without either guy.

Finally, Crosby has some valid beef with Jasmine (Joy Bryant) in “Forced Family Fun.” They previously agree to discuss any potential significant other entering their son, Jabbar’s, life. She allows Dr. Joe, whom she is dating, to play with Jabbar without consulting Crosby. But Crosby does arrive twenty minutes early, or else Dr. Joe would have been gone. Jabbar just wants to play, as any kid does, and doesn’t understand the situation fully, so it’s no wonder that Joe and Jasmine allow it. Which means that there is a legitimate problem where no one is clearly or completely in the wrong.

Dr. Joe is sticking around for at least a little while. Not only is he Jabbar’s doc, but he’s also been picked up by Kristina for baby Nora. Which is great news, because Woodside is always a pleasure to watch. However, this means no immediate happy reconciliation for fans of Jasmine and Crosby being together. It also means that Jabbar’s life is about to get more complicated. If Parenthood chooses to seriously pursue Dr. Joe, the series should consider keeping him permanently, and just letting Crosby move on. Otherwise, adding this much drama puts it as risk of becoming too cheesy, and sends it down the path of so many shows before it.

Watch Parenthood Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • http://sceneontv.tumblr.com darci

    Wow, the whole sushi thing really blew up in Julia’s face, but I can’t really fault Zoe at all. That was kind of ridiculous to bring that up, especially at the time she did. Just bad taste, but a really well-acted scene – you can see Julia’s shock almost at how her comments were received, and it just felt like a ‘real’ awkward/uncomfortable exchange, much more so than typical scenes like that in TV shows/movies (you can watch it here). Last but not least, I loved that they used Junip’s “Official” that’s such a good haunting mood-setting song.