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'Parenthood' Review: "Trouble in Candyland" (aka Sarah Screws Up)


Judging by my Twitter Timeline, Sarah aggravates a lot of Parenthood fans. I guess I’m in the minority, then, because I find Sarah’s magnetic pull to men that need “fixing” pretty interesting.  And the latest escapades with Hank really are in keeping with her character. She’s done the same with her ex-husband Seth, the drunk/drug addict/can’t hold a job deadbeat.  At least Hank’s gainfully employed.

Sarah seems to want men that NEED her (yes, all-in-caps NEED her).  Maybe it’s not healthy, but it’s pretty common. However, in last night’s episode, Mark called her out for it. He’s mad as hell and he’s not gonna take it anymore.  And as Hank tells Sarah, “Is there trouble in Candyland?”

After Sarah bailed out of the weekend getaway with Mark, and instead went with Hank to try and salvage his visitation rights with his ex-wife and daughter, Mark told her she was a “bad fiancée”.  Those may be pretty mild words to you and me, but for Mark, that’s harsh.  Let’s face it, the dude never seems to get too worked about anything and that actually annoys me more than anything Sarah does.  Now, I love Jason Ritter. He’s adorable and charming and a really good actor. But facts are facts:  his character IS a wuss. 

Anyway, back to the episode: Sarah is out-of-town with Hank, and after Hank reluctantly agrees to his ex’s move to Minnesota, a morose Hank and a depressed Sarah (after her fight with Mark) get plastered.  As they stagger down their hotel hallway, arm in arm, and falling all over each other, who’s waiting by her hotel door?  Mr. Mild-Mannered himself, who although royally pissed, flew in to surprise the ‘bad fiancée’. 

After seeing the spectacle before him, Mark confronts Sarah, and point blank asks her, “If I wasn’t here, what was gonna happen next?” I give the guy props here.  He called it for what it was. Two drunk adults, staggering down a hotel hallway, arm-in-arm.  When there’s smoke, there’s almost always  fire.

But Sarah does a lot of begging and pleading and half-convinces him nothing funny was about to happen. She even gets Mark to agree to dinner later that evening, so they can talk things through.  She ends the conversation by telling Mark she loves him. Only I’m not so sure Sarah can love a guy as steady as Mark.

In the meantime, Sarah meets up with a very hung-over, and not-so-steady Hank.  Oblivious to what’s happened in Sarah’s world, Hank prattles on and on about how hard it’s going to be with daughter Ruby living so far away. Sarah finally interrupts him and tells him that it’s not her job to “fix” Hank.  Hurt, and a little surprised (and who can blame him, as Sarah has quite happily been trying to ‘fix’ Hank for months now) Hank cuts Sarah off from further explanation and tells her he gets it, abruptly and awkwardly ending that little chat.  

Cut to later that night and another awkward conversation, but this time between Sarah and Mark. Finally, Mark tells Sarah he loves her, but he can’t do this anymore. He can’t stand by and watch as she continues to be drawn to guys like Seth and Hank.  Then, he gets up and walks away. Leaving Sarah alone, at a table for two, in the middle of other patrons. As my Twitter friend @dinkologist said, “It’s pretty rude to dump someone at a public place and leave them there.”  True dat.  For Mark, confrontation and taking a really firm stand are not in his comfort zone. It seems easier for him to get up and leave her there, rather than gut it out and end it less, dare I say it, wussily.

The next day, Hank and Sarah leave the hotel  to fly back to the Bay. Both miserable. But, tellingly, together. In a weird kind of depressed solidarity.  (Yay for Hank!)

Other stuff happened in the episode, too. Crosby and Adam saved the Luncheonette from that crazy, bitter neighbor who wanted them shut down.  Amber got Joel to give Ryan a job on his new construction site. Which Ryan immediately screwed up. And Julia whined some more about how hard it is to parent an adopted son.

But again, it’s Sarah and her man troubles that seems to generate the most interest on social media. Love her or hate her, she stirs up passionate responses.  Again, I like Sarah. She’s screwed up, she’s still trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life, and she’s got a big heart.  I can relate.

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