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'Parenthood' Review: 'Small Victories'


I’ve probably said this two or three times already, but last night’s episode WAS the best of the season. But since the season is heading to its finale, (NO!!!)  I may say it again.

Last night, cancer sat down for abortion.  But where the cancer s/l seems to be heading into cliché Ville, this take on teen pregnancy was understated and fresh.  And while it had a definite point of view, it didn’t play out like an after-school special.  It was grown up and real.

Amy told Drew she was pregnant.  She was scared, he was scared, neither wanted to tell their parents, and neither could really lean on the other for support.  And this was all perfectly, clearly illustrated without them actually saying any of those words. They did it through story, and dialogue and exceptional acting.  And some great directing by Peter Krause (Adam).

Miles Heizer (Drew) was a revelation. The range this young actor displayed was a thing of beauty to watch.  While I found my heart also breaking for Amy, as she struggled with the shocking reality of being a pregnant high-schooler, it was Drew who was the focus. (Understandably, as he’s a main player.) And Heizer couldn’t have done any better with the spotlight.  We saw his character struggle with supporting Amy in her right to choose, and his own desire to, perhaps, keep the baby.

Moreover, the reality of money playing a role in this decision was also addressed.  Amy told Drew she would need his help to pay for an abortion, so Drew broke down and revealed his secret to Amber. And his need for financial help. Amber  was the support Drew desperately needed and I am continually blown away at how the Bravermans never waver in their family fidelity. They are there for each other, whenever it really counts.

So,  in the end,  Amy chose an abortion and Drew backed her up.  Afterwards, on the drive home, Amy told Drew she needed space. When he asked, how much, she replied “a lot”.  I love that the writers aren’t making this a ramification-free incident in their relationship. This was a watershed moment for both characters and they both know it. Neither will ever be the same and to pretend otherwise would be ridiculous. 

Drew, afterwards, finally broke down and went to Sarah for the emotional support only a mother can give.  To watch Drew finally and completely break down, sobbing,  as his mother held on and stroked his hair, was genuinely heartbreaking.  I think this is the moment Drew  (and Amy) grew up.

There were other ramifications to this, too. At school, Mark noticed that something was definitely wrong with Drew and Amy and so went to Sarah to discuss his concerns.  There was still a noticeable something-something between the two ( I KNEW this was going to be an issue for poor Hank!) and Hank noticed the lingering spark, too.  The showdown among this threesome is right on the horizon.  I cannot wait to see how this plays out.  While I’ll feel badly for Mark if he loses out (I mean, it’s Jason Ritter, who is not-too-damn-shabby) I will be downright teed off Hank isn’t the one.

We also got to see Max on the cusp of puberty. There were some definite squirming-in-my-seat scenes as Adam attempted to have “the talk” with Max. But there was also a laugh-out-loud one where Zeek and Camille, without any embarrassment, bluntly talked to Max about, ahem, coming-of-age. Leave it to two old hippies.  I’m too much of a stick-in-the-mud to repeat what they said, but it was hilarious.

Crosby’s continued struggles  living with his somewhat over-bearing Mother-in-law were pretty amusing, too.  I totally related to the lack of enough bathrooms for that many people. It’s an issue and I totally sympathized with Crosby. Plus, the MIL’s insistence he eat her trout dinner hit home for me, too. I hate fish.  Apparently, Crosby isn’t a fan, either.

Less funny was Julia and Joel’s continued struggles with Victor.  Victor continued refusal to accept Julia as his “real” Mom hit the boiling point. There was an argument (typical family drama) but Victor called 911 on Julia. It blew over as the cops realized there was no abuse going on, but it was the last straw, apparently, for Julia. When their adoption case worker got wind of the police report, she paid a visit and outright asked the two if they were reconsidering the adoption.  Emphatically, Joel said, “Of course not”. But Julia wavered and admitted she had doubts.  Joel stalked off, stunned and upset.  (Could my wish that Joel dump Julia be coming true?)

Seriously, I’m still hating this s/l. Why are these people shocked Victor has issues? His mother was a drug addict and had to relinquish her own child.  If I were that child, I’d be screwed up, too. Did they think adopting an older child, with that baggage, was going to be easy? Really? Two educated, intelligent, grown-up (sort of) adults were that naive?  Please.

But if we ignore the Julia/Victor stuff, the teaser for the next episode looked amazing.  As usual.  So it will be bittersweet, knowing there’s only two episodes remaining to this season. Which leads to my next question: why was this show, that is consistently excellent, given just a shortened season?

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