TV Recaps

Parenthood Recap: "The Talk"

I’m a white woman. Shocker.  As such, I think I can intellectually comprehend the utter wretchedness of a word like n***er.  But there’s simply no way I can truly understand what that word feels like; no way can I connect, on a visceral, intuitive level, to the despicable history that word represents. And that’s pretty much where Crosby found himself in this week’s Parenthood.

I’m a white woman. Shocker.  As such, I think I can intellectually comprehend the utter wretchedness of a word like n***er.  But there’s simply no way I can truly understand what that word feels like; no way can I connect, on a visceral, intuitive level, to the despicable history that word represents. And that’s pretty much where Crosby found himself in this week’s Parenthood.

While at a Luncheonette recording session with his Dad, Jabbar overheard a rapper using the word n***a in one of his songs. He also heard the quaint phrase ‘pimpmaster’, but that’s perhaps another topic.

 Having never heard the N word before, Jabbar asked Crosby what it meant and Crosby, as WASP as it comes, struggled to adequately explain. However, the best he could do was to mutter that  it was a “bad, bad word.”  

Later, Crosby fessed up to Jasmine, who very distinctly and very plainly told Crosby she would handle this issue with their son. And she proceeded to do just that, simply but clearly, in a manner totally appropriate to a young boy. 

And in the process, Crosby faced a fact that he’d perhaps been ignoring:  his wife has indeed faced bigotry and discrimination and that his son likely would, too. And that as helpless as it made him feel,  he couldn’t share this with his wife and child.  It was a very basic, understated series of scenes, powerful in their starkness. 

Less clearly defined continued to be the seesaw storyline that is Victor Gets A New Mom And Dad.  While last week’s episode showed  some promise with this s/l, it faltered again last night.  Joel,  being a keener to share “activities” with his new son, signed poor Victor up for baseball,  but completely neglected to ask the poor kid if that was a sport he had any interest in.  As it turned out, it wasn’t. Nor was it a pastime Victor had any particular talent in, either. 

Understandably, after whiffing on about 50 pitches, Victor threw his bat (and trust me, this is a  personal choice frowned on by Little League coaches) and stomped off the field.  He also, during his tantrum, told Joel,”you aren’t my real Dad.”  Saw that one coming a mile away.

Of course, by the end of the episode, their issue was tied up in a relatively neat bow, with Joel apologizing for his over-eagerness and Victory easily accepting the apology/explanation, which is now the running theme with this s/l.  Conflict with new son/resolution of conflict/repeat. 

So, I’m back to my original opinion. I hate this storyline.

But better (MUCH BETTER) is the evolving chemistry between Sarah and Hank. I’m a broken record about them by this point. Plus, I feel like I’m stabbing lovely Jason Ritter (Mark) in the back by being such a Shank (I just made that up) fan.  But they’re lovely and sweet and really real together and they’re quickly becoming my favorite part of an already-good show.

Last night, we learned Hank has an 11-year-old daughter named Ruby. Ruby lives most of the time with her Mom in L.A.   As a part-time father, Hank struggled with connecting to his pre-teen girl.  He even resorted to reading The Hunger Games.  But, as a middle-aged, grumpy white guy, Hank wasn’t feeling the Katniss love and asked Sarah, “Tell me why I should be Team Gale.”

And  Sarah,  for all her quirks, does have an affinity for kids.  By episode’s end,  she’d convinced Hank to Photoshop Ruby into a shot with Justin Bieber,  a guaranteed way to impress her oh-so-sophisticated L.A. friends with how she spends  time with her Dad.

We also discovered Hank is more than a portrait photographer. Buried in his desk were some startling ‘arty’ photographs, hinting at a talent far more developed than Sarah imagined.  And Sarah LOVES tormented artists. Look at her history with her ex-husband. So here we go, love triangle….

In a decidedly more platonic bent, Zeek found a friend, in an unlikely spot.  Matt Lauria (Friday Night Lights) debuted as an Afghanistan war vet that Zeek befriends after being forced by wife Camille to volunteer at the local VA. As a Vietnam War Vet himself, Zeek and young Ryan forged a quick bond and I have a good vibe about the potential for this storyline.

Finally, Kristina’s battle with breast cancer continued, as she and Adam argued the merits of her putting off surgery long enough to monitor Max’s run for student council.  I’ve been very clear that I’m conflicted about this storyline and that remains true.  I’ve lived this, as have millions of others, and it’s not necessarily “entertainment” for me to watch it unfold on one of my favorite shows.  That said, Monica Potter and Peter Krause are fabulously talented actors, and they have been nothing less than stellar with this storyline. 

Parenthood’s strength is its authenticity.  I’m just not positive we all needed quite this much truth.

{jathumbnail off}