Warning: Spoilers if you haven't completed Season 3 of NBC's Parenthood.
Ok, I have just got to gush a bit (and it isn't the first time.) I just freaking love this show. It pulls me in so much that I can't even think straight. I pretty much just sit here and marvel at how bad I want to be a member of the Braverman family.
Tonight's episode gave me even more fodder for my constant love of the show. Crosby and Jasmine's wedding was the main event, but it was a few of the side stories which made me proud to call this show my favorite TV drama. I'm going to focus on these story lines, but trust me, there was a lot more going on.
First, we had the very small but significant Drew and Amy side story. Drew is kind of an overlooked character. He is Sarah's second child and because his older sister Amber has always been much more rebellious, he doesn't get a lot of attention. However, Drew recently got a girlfriend who he fancies and who fancies him (yes I'm 83.) In tonight's episode, Drew and Amy decided to take a big step in their blossoming romance. When no one was looking at the wedding, they snuck away. And as such, Parenthood did something pretty revolutionary. It showed two teens making the decision to have happy, healthy, responsible sex...and they didn't die. (...yet. The writers always have season 4 to screw up this story line, if they choose. If there is a season 4?) Anyway, they even talked about it before it happened! They prepared! I wish this wasn't as uncommon in the media as it is. Wait, you know what? This isn't even the first time Parenthood has been realistic about teen sex. The last time I wrote about them, I referenced a similar story line with Haddie and her then boyfriend, Alex. Parenthood is teaching us that sex is natural and, when done safely, is a good thing. Huh. What a concept!
On to Sarah and Mark's situation. Sarah and Mark have been getting super serious lately and talking all kinds of big plans (moving to New York, a baby.) It seemed very unrealistic to me...in that I kind of felt like they're people who talk big but don't actually DO much. Well, when push came to shove, Sarah decided to put herself before her man and was very frank about what she really wants and needs (aka NOT a baby. She has two nearly grown kids already.) It was kind of amazing and they even broke up for a majority of the episode. But because it is Hollywood, they got back together as Mark delivered a beautiful speech that he just wants to be with her. I mean, hey, as long as she's staying strong about getting what she wants, I ain't mad.
Speaking of strong Braverman (Holt) women, cut to Amber. Amber is a really interesting character. At first, she was just the token rebellious teenage girl who they didn't do much else with. But Amber's first year out of high school has been really interesting. She didn't taken the traditional path (straight to college) but the writers are giving her so much more depth and are painting a very interesting future for her. Amber has been working her ass off with multiple jobs to live on her own in a little studio apartment in the city. And most recently, she got a job through her aunt Kristina working for Bob Little's election campaign. Within a few scenes, it became clear that Amber had a mind for successful campaigning. This is where Bob, some 9 years her senior, notices her and they start a romance. I'm not really sure how I feel about that whole thing, but regardless on tonight's season finale she confronted him and told him that above all else she needed the job and that had to be that. Her line was something about how she had been making decisions with her feelings before and now she wants to make them by going with what's actually best for her. I think anyone who has survived the 16-22 age range knows inherently what she means. I think they're trying to make Bob likable, so I'm hoping this means he will respect her wishes, but either way, this was a far cry from the Season 1 Amber who ran away to San Diego with her drugged up-guitar playing-dead beat boyfriend.
Finally, there's Kristina. I really didn't like Kristina during seasons 1 and 2. I kept feeling like they were just making her the scapegoat conservative mom who stayed at home and was totally overbearing to her kids. Any tough decision that had to be made was done by Kristina and she felt like an ice queen. However, around halfway through season 2 I started to feel differently. The writers were giving Kristina more complexity. She began to admit that she could be wrong (most notably through the Alex/Haddie story line.) They also gave Kristina a backbone. Before, she was the one holding down everything in their household, making it all work, while her husband, Adam, led a life of offering his kids passing advice, playing basketball in the driveway, and serving as a family figurehead without the substance of contributing day-to-day. During season 3 Kristina stood up against this. She rejected the idea of being a self sacrificing mom by taking time for herself. She also began to demand more of Adam. Most notably, she took a job outside the home, despite just having had her third child. In the workplace, we see that Kristina is pretty no nonsense and she's not afraid to show it. In tonight's episode, for example, she point blank told Bob that she disapproved of his pursuing Amber. I mean, she pretty much scolded her boss. Long story short, I'm starting to see Kristina as a complex, feeling, thinking, character instead of the one dimensional ball-and-chain role she used to seem to fill.
I could just gush and gush about how this show contains so many strong, realistic women but I think I've gone on long enough. (Although I do wish they had a lesbian character...)
I guess I shouldn't be surprised. By my count on IMDB, 7 of the 15 listed writers are women. See people! This is what you get when you give women a voice in Hollywood!