As Parenthood moves into season three, it needs to be careful not to fall under the Brothers & Sisters curse. Both series start as wonderful shows about close, extended families. But as Brothers & Sisters made season after season, five in total, the writers turned to less and less believable plots, forcing drama just to keep the show going. Parenthood needs to remember what makes a family drama magical and special in its early days, and not allow it to show its age. All three siblings in the above paragraphs are treading dangerous ground here, and it could go either way.
In life, everyone has to grow up. Amber is out of high school, and after making the decision to put college on hold for awhile, she seeks to begin her adult life. This involves getting a new haircut and finding a small, in-need-of-work apartment in a soon-to-be-trendy area of town. Seriously, the place doesn't even have a kitchen! But Amber falls in love with it instantly, and soon signs the lease.
While Amber is in a dreamer phase of her life, like her uncles and aunt previously discussed, for her, the stakes are much lower. She is just starting out and doesn't have the ties or responsibilities to worry about that the older family members do. If Amber lands on her face because of lack of employment or inability to pay the rent, she still has a safety net: she can move back in with her mother and grandparents. For her, there are few reasons not to take the chance.
Sarah doesn't see it that way, though. She sees it as Amber abandoning her. Sarah's milestone 40th birthday might have something to do with the increased neurosis, but part of the worrying is also just who she is. Sarah is shocked that Amber would want to move into such a dump, and can't believe her daughter doesn't even care if she picks up her high school diploma or not. Thank goodness Sarah's mom, Camille (Bonnie Bedelia), is there to speak some sense to her.
While Ritter's Mark re-enters Sarah's life now almost entirely for behind the scenes, practical reasons, it's perfect, story-wise. Sarah needs a pick me up, a distraction, something to make her feel good about herself. She is aging, and while she has accomplished a few things, she has much more that she wants to do. Having the younger Mark around to shower her with affection, and steal Amber's diploma from the school, should give her a needed boost... as long as he doesn't get caught and fired for the theft.