Sunday, September 19, 2010

IT’S ALL IN THE NAME

Review: Parenthood Season 1
Parenthood is about exactly what its title implies, but this show is definitely not boring and preachy like some self-help book on parenting; it’s something that anyone can relate to, at any age. Here’s what I thought of Season one...


Earlier this year, when I first saw the promotional photos of Parenthood, the new family drama on NBC, I immediately thought of ABC’s widely popular Brothers & Sisters, and I presumed it would be similar. Like Brothers & Sisters, I thought Parenthood would be a show about a large family of several grown up siblings, dealing with life, as their parent/s deal with their own issues. It turned out that that only loosely defines what Parenthood is all about. Yes, the setting of the show is pretty much the same, but this one’s more about, well, parenting.

Set in Berkeley, California, the show starts when Sarah Braverman (Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls) moves back into her parents’ home, with her two teenage kids from a failed marriage. While she’s dealing with having to start life over, without financial security, and a roof of her own, she’s also dealing with having had to tear her kids away from their lives back in Fresno. On the other hand, there’s her younger brother Crosby (Dax Shepard), who’s dealing with an impending commitment, but also soon finds out that he has a five-year-old son, with whom he decides he wants to have a relationship with. Julia Braverman (Erika Christensen, Swimfan and Six Degrees), the youngest of the siblings, has a happy marriage and a successful career as a lawyer, but still needs to deal with not being able to be there for her daughter all the time. The oldest of the Braverman siblings is Adam (Peter Krause, Six Feet Under and Dirty Sexy Money), who’s pretty much the glue that holds the family together, but has to deal with a sometimes difficult teenage daughter and a younger son who has Asperger syndrome.

As the Bravermans deal with the various challenges in their lives, it’s also essential for them to raise their kids right, as they make sacrifices to be there and do what needs to be done, putting their children’s needs above anything else. While the siblings mostly get along, besides the occasional squabbles, they reflect the values of family that hold them together. Being there for each other, in their times of need are important to them, but sometimes, there’s a conflict between that and their children’s needs. Of course, there’s a lot of drama and emotions run high in almost every episode, but at the end of the day, they all seem to come together when the importance of family overshines everything else. If you’ve been in a family with protective parents, siblings and cousins you can’t always get along with, spouses who tend to question your priorities and commitment towards them, and children who don’t seem to realise that you hold their best interests at heart in everything you do, this show is for you.

Season one of Parenthood brings you to understand each character with reasonable depth, as you get familiar with their ordinary lives that put them through extraordinary circumstances and situations, always presenting them with hard choices. Relationships are consistent and characterisations are strong, and even as the plots aren’t always gripping, each storyline is well played out, as everything leads somewhere to mean something, big or small. The show doesn’t succumb to illogical and forced premises, just to give characters importance, as the writers seem to know how to do justice to everyone’s story and make everything relevant. The portrayal of relationships is splendid, as each actor brings to the table a very impressive level of honesty to their roles. Lauren Graham is endearing as the woman who’s desperately trying to hold her life together, when nothing seems to make sense. Erika Christensen plays strong and stable, yet vulnerable in a perfect manner, and Dax Shepard convincingly dons the role of a man trying to escape a grown-up life in vain. However, it’s Peter Krause who is most outstanding, as he plays the good Adam, the one to whom your heart goes out to, through all the conflicts he needs to tackle. Among the younger generation, Mae Whitman does a fine portrayal of Sarah’s daughter Amber, and Max Burkholder as Max, the kid with Asperger’s, is very believable. Craig T Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia, who play the parents, the head of the Braverman brood, play a small, yet significant and sincere role. And Monica Potter plays Adam’s wife Kristina with finesse.

The storytelling is heart-warming, and every now and then, you’re presented with “Aww!” moments, which remind you of all that you share with your family. Furthermore, the theme is beautifully represented by the opening credits, which show baby photos of all the characters, while Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’ plays, throwing you into a nostalgic trip of your own. The show made quite the impression on me in just 13 episodes of S1, and as I wait to start watching S2, I hope it gets all the credit it deserves and isn’t cancelled before its time. 

2 comments:

  1. Hey, wonderfully compiled review-cum-analysis of the show. I especially agree with the bit about 'awww' moments. The show made quite an impression on me too.

    This part's especially true: "If you’ve been in a family with protective parents, siblings and cousins you can’t always get along with, spouses who tend to question your priorities and commitment towards them, and children who don’t seem to realise that you hold their best interests at heart in everything you do, this show is for you."

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  2. Thank you! I thought that that part was what really spoke about the show as being something that everyone can relate to, and I wanted readers here to know the various kinds of scenarios that they've probably been in, which would warrant them as people who can relate to Parenthood.

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