'Parenthood' review: Oh, Crosby, you big dummy. Also: Oh, Haddie, you naughty girl...

Another week, another foolish decision made by the character we love to see make foolish decisions. In a new plan — hey, that was the title of the episode, “New Plan” — to win back Jasmine, Crosby decided to buy a house. Because if there’s one thing a woman who’s hurt by your infidelity wants, it’s to move in with you, and into a house so small, she can’t help seeing you when you’re both in it all the time.

This sort of impulse was totally in keeping with Crosby’s personality, which is why I totally bought it. That, and the fact that the hour was Jasmine-free, which meant we have yet to hear her reaction. And, well, that and the fact that Crosby sold his houseboat — to a guy who looked as though he’d died and gone to heaven. Perfect.

Also perfect? The entire Haddie-goes-to-her-prom plot. The spectacle of Adam being so worried that his daughter was going to do what he did (i.e., have sex on prom night) brought out the best in Adam when he’s in his stern-control-freak mode. As opposed to his other mode, which is genial-control-freak. Either way, Peter Krause is terrific; he’s the soul of this series. The way he withheld his affection from Crosby, nursing that well-earned grudge until Sarah wore him down with the surefire “But he’s our brother” speech — Krause/Adam was excellent.

And, as it turned out, correct about the “raging hormones.” Haddie may have the perfect boyfriend in Alex (plug: Watch Michael B. Jordan in NBC’s broadcast of the final season of Friday Night Lights, starting Apr. 15!), but neither of them was immune to the charms of the other, and now Haddie is a well-satisfied secret-keeper.

You know who else had a “new plan”? Amber. Rejected by Berkeley, the college-free gal tried for just a little while to act like a normal teen and go to the prom, but then went back to being bitter and sullen. Another first-rate performance here, by Mae Whitman. Her rebellious brattiness, breaking her mother’s heart, saved the weakest part of Parenthood right now, which is the Richard Dreyfuss Is Going To Make Sarah A Star Playwright foolishness. Why is an intelligent woman like Sarah gulled by this gasbag? (“You’ve got to give Barry some dignity!” Oh, please…) Oh, that’s right: Sarah was gulled by that wastral John Corbett, too; Sarah has self-respect issues, which Lauren Graham plays beautifully. But it’s more absorbing to watch Graham stretch out in the mother-daughter tussles with Whitman — a relationship so un-Gilmore-Girls-like and therefore all the more enjoyable for the opportunity to see Graham show her range.

As for Amber’s whole I-gotta-be-me speech — well, the parent in me says, “Sure, kid, you go ahead and do what you like. Just make sure you go down to McDonald’s tomorrow and fill out an employment application, because I’m not paying for those cigarettes and whatever else you’re planning to smoke.” But I guess I’m supposed to be more sympathetic, right?

Some stray Parenthood questions for you:

• What was up with the cast on Julia’s arm this week? Had Erika Christensen really hurt her arm and they wrote it into the script, or was it meant to be a rare light touch in her heavy, I-can’t-get-pregnant plot?

• Where was Max during the whole getting-ready-for-prom intrigue? He didn’t even show up during the ritual picture-taking before the prom, and you know there’s no way Max would have been able to keep himself out of that chaos.

• That final, heartwarming, “We’re going to fix this house” moment between the Braverman siblings? You know who’s gonna really do the fixing, right? Poor Joel!

• Most important: How do you think this new-house project is going to play out for Crosby and Jasmine?

And finally: I’m going to pretend I didn’t see the coming attractions for next week. Let’s not talk (yet) about what’s going to happen to Amber.

What did you think of Parenthood this week?

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (140 total) Add your comment
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  • Tracey

    Loved it. Brilliant episode and I love the drama that’s coming up. Lauren Graham was fantastic with Richard Dreyfuss. I love when the Bravermans have sibling scenes – they’re magic.

    • shinely

      o My friends told me about — Meet’ri`ches .C0- M —–told It’s the be’st pl’ace to me’et Milli’onaire si’ngles. It is the first and best club for wealthy people and their admirers. D’ating CEOs, professional athletes, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, professional models and cheerleaders, and even Hollywood celebrities is an easy experience there…you don’t have to be rich ,but you can meet one there.
      nice experience——-

  • Kara

    Awesome episode! Just fantastic. And seriously, next weeks episode looks even better!

  • rebecca

    I was also wondering about Julia’s cast. I checked a little bit up on it and I couldn’t find anything about Erika breaking her arm, but that is what I figure she did and just no one released it or anything to the press. Why else would she have a cast on, it didn’t have anything to do with the episode.

    • crispy

      The cast was killing me! It was so distracting, and their attempts to block it made it even more distracting!

      • D

        Agreed. And what was crazy was that she clearly didn’t have to hold it upright all the time, since we got some scenes with her not doing that, so it would have been better to have it hang by her side, instead of looking like she was directing traffic. Very distracting indeed.

    • jan

      Her character broke it in last week’s eppy while the family was skating.

      • Rodman

        - Well, these are just INCREDIBLE! I love your location, the sun flare, great light and some oh, so nautral looking shots. I also love that you didn’t photoshop that scratch off his face that’s life!

    • Kate

      She broke it bike riding I think. She is on twitter and talked about the injury but was vague about how it happened.

      • Kary

        Erika broke her wrist couple of weeks ago while biking. She promoted the show on KTLA yesterday and talked about it. They wrote it in the show.
        Really liked this episode.

    • yelp

      WHY WAS SHE HOLDING IT UP??? Finally by the end, it was down. But she was holding it up, as if her entire shoulder was broken. Why?? It looked so stupid and distracting.

      • larry

        Broken wrist – you hold up. You certainly don’t hold your arm up when you have a broken shoulder.

      • yelp

        When you break your shoulder it is put in a cast that makes your arm stick out (the way she was holding it), with the exception-your lower arm would be hanging down not up. Ergo the comment about the shoulder. REgardless, why was she holding it up. Just let it rest down. I thought it was silly

      • Robyn

        TMZ reported that she is having some “modern technique” of healing done — maybe that’s why she had to hold it up for awhile. But it did look odd when she did.

  • Jake

    Such a great episode. and OMG next week looks so good, yet heartbreaking.

  • Sofia

    Great episode! But Amber is getting extremely annoying AGAIN!! Yea that whole “I gotta be me” speech should have been followed by “well get your own apartment, that way you can be the loser that you want to be”. And I think she can apply for McDonalds on-line:)

    It’s ridiculous how much garbage that poor mother is putting up with. The writers need to kill off that Amber character. I must be living in a bubble, because are there kids out there putting their parents through all that anguish? Or are the writers exaggerating the life of a troubled teenager just for ratings? So, she didn’t get into Berkeley, apply to another college study your butt off and apply again the following year. Boo hoo, I didn’t get into Berkeley my life is over:(

    • Nichole

      I would have to say there are many teenagers just like Amber and her character is very right on. Many parents deal with teens like her and don’t know what to do, and many have teens in a lot worse situations. Granted, they probably made Amber’s character the opposite of Maddie’s on purpose, because Maddie is the OTHER type of teenager and having them alike would be boring.

      • Mac

        Ummm…dont know what to do? Is called “parenting” (excuse the pun) I agree with the whole feel free to be yourself in your own place, where you can be anyway you wish

      • seattleellen

        Mae Whitman is such a good actress, but they are making Amber very unsympathetic and where has her brother been thru all of this. I would also say – if you are going to do it your way – then get a job to pay for those cigarettes, etc. & Stop feeling so sorry for yourself. also the little girl of Erika’s – is a spoiled little brat. I can see why the Craig T. Nelson Character and bonnie bedila character have had issues with the parenting of her.
        Still, this episode did make me cry. And I can’t wait until Haddie’s secret comes out! Looking foward to next week!

    • Kate

      I agree. While I get that not getting into school would be hard I think the personality shift is a bit much. Suddenly she smokes? I just think it would have made more sense as a natural decline rather than what appears like it will be an instant meltdown.

      • distar

        When the college drama happens to most kids they go to the local community college for a year and try again for the following year. I guess that wouldn’t make for much of a show though.

      • moname91

        Amber always smoked from the first episode. Her mom told her just not in the house.

      • ps in seattle

        I don’t think Amber’s meltdown is ONLY about not getting in to Berkeley. She’s probably also processing the emotional pain from her dad’s unexpected visit and departure. Add to that an inability to trust and buckets of self worth issues she has learned from her mother, and you have a girl who is overwhelmed by a sense of failure. Sure, she has options, but she’s hurting on so many levels, and that pain can be blinding until you allow yourself to move past it. Once again, Mae whitman has given a heartbreaking, complex performance.

    • Dee

      I think Amber was just like a normal teenager….thinking that their parents want something and them wanting something entirely different and just wanting to figure it out for themselves. If anything, Sarah was really annoying me tonight….sheesh, give your daughter a break! She just got rejected from Berkeley and is probably not going to college, and all you can say is “why didn’t you tell me?” in that kind of accusatory tone? I miss Lorelai Gilmore.

      • J. Norman

        Um, Dee

        There is a lot of room between not getting into Berkely (on your first try) and becoming a sullen, spoiled, snot nosed little brat.
        As others have said, she should have had more than 2 other colleges as plan B’s. and
        2) Should have remembered that she didn’t have a snowballs chance in hell of getting in without her family pulling strings. I mean, really, where did her idea come from that she was better than 99% of other similar candidates. Boo hoo.

    • Mac

      Thank you! I agree! What a sullen little brat! Apply to various colleges and see what sticks! Also am I the only one who thinks she looks WAAAAAY older than a hs senior?? When she was in the glasses and the candy necklace I wanted to laugh. She looked ridiculous

    • Nicole

      I think Sarah will eventually not put up with Amber’s nonsense, but right now, she’s just soaking it all in and figuring out how to handle it. Also, Sarah feels an enormous amount of guilt for the life that Amber’s had until now. That is part of the reason she’s not exerting her authority just yet.

    • Domenica

      I applied to college this year, and I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t gotten in anywhere, I would have had a bit of a breakdown too! I don’t know if everyone here remembers – but at this point in your life, college feels like absolutely everything. I went through the whole thing last week, and I think Amber’s response makes perfect sense. Of course, it was very stupid of Amber to apply to only 2 schools, but whatever …

      • Robyn

        i think the deal with the character of Amber is she went from being the “bad seed” last season to trying to do what everyone thinks is right — study hard, join in at school, go to prom — and it didn’t get her what she (and others) wanted — for her to get into college — so now she’s gonna resort back to her old ways where she is “in control” of her life — it’s not about not just getting into a college, it’s about the whole “good kid” package.

      • Charlie

        I went through college application season 10 years ago, and I agree, Domenica. I too remember sweating bullets until the acceptance letters started coming in. Fortunately I applied to more than enough schools to (hopefully) be assured a spot somewhere, but I don’t know what I would’ve done had I not gotten in either. A few of my classmates either didn’t graduate or didn’t get into college and felt like the rest of the world was moving on without them. That’s bound to send anyone into a tailspin!

      • Carol

        Lots a teens do stupid things and when it doesn’t work out they think their whole life is ruined. So I think Amber’s reaction is very true to life. I’d like to see some of the adults in her life let her know that life goes on and there are other options than totally giving up. And I love Amber. She’s a great character and beautifully acted.

    • jan

      Yes, teenagers are going through this type thing todaym acting like Amber and their parents are “along for the ride”. ( I am Grandmother to 7 teenagers at the moment.)
      And her character did apply at other colleges and was rejected from all.
      I do NOT think the parts on this show are over-acted. It is the MOST REALISTIC program on TV. I love it!

    • Jim

      yeah, our teen that is causing us all that trouoble (and then some) is 27

  • chelsey

    Great episode. From beginning to end OUTSTANDING!! I’m just glad Max wasn’t around…sorry. I find when he’s on screen I have to change the channel…too annoying.

    • Nichole

      How nice of you to find a child with Asperger’s annoying…

      • Elli

        You know, they really can be annoying…

      • marymary

        Here, here Nichole! coming from the mom of a child with autism, it’s so nice to hear when the one time a character is portrayed on tv that is similar to my child that it is “annoying” someone. BTW, if you want to “enlighten” yourself, it’s Autism Awareness Month- check out autismspeaks.com and maybe just maybe learn a thing or two.

      • hella

        Ugh, Here we go again. God forbid we call a child with…[[[gasp]]] Aspergers annoying. Wow! Get real. And before you judge, or tell me to enlighten myself-you need to take a step back yourself and understand that ALL types of children can be annoying!

      • distar

        I think you can find a child annoying and still have a world of sympathy and love for him. Anyone lived with a toddler?

  • Maria S.

    I LOVE the sibling interactions on this show, it’s what makes it different it and sets it apart from the rest. I thought the ending scene with all of the siblings supporting Crosby was touching and I love the chemistry that the cast has. Can’t wait for next week, previews left me wanting more!

  • Marion

    On the subject of Adam, I like him the best when he was high. The scene by Peter was so funny! Has this show been renewed yet?

    • Ali

      I know, after Six Feet Under I’d forgotten how well he does comedy. Saw him on Bonnie Hunt and he was talking about getting his start with Carol Burnett… never would have imagined that!

  • Sil

    I absolutely love this show! I see myself in Sarah’s shoes, single mom of a 13 year old girl and 12 year old boy….trying to figure out how to make things right. Every episode makes me laugh and cry…I hope more people start watching it

    • Sina

      Please don’t say that. Sarah is the most annoying person on this show. If she would die in a car accident and just let her parents raise the kids, I would be happy. Or her and the guy with the cool alien friends could get married and hit the road.

  • conor

    i am sooooooooooooooooooooooo glad you now/finally writing articles about this beautiful gem of a show, as i have said b4, 10pm Tuesday night is the best hour of primetime TV, 2 of the best shows on, i stay up way too late to watch both, cant wait till the next day to watch, all other shows can!

  • Sonia

    Erika broke her wrist and they wrote it in to the show. As for the episode I loved it. I think that Lauren and Peter are doing a great job and so are the rest of the cast.. Wondering where Drew is during all this. He has been MIA the last few shows. I didn’t miss Jasmine. And I always enjoy when the 4 sibs get together.

    • Shannon

      Ok, I watch every week-who the heck is Drew?

      • Anna

        Sarah’s son/Amber’s younger brother.

  • Robin

    I too love this show, but I have a question. Does the actor that plays Max really have aspergers?

    • Nichole

      Doesn’t appear that he has Asperger’s in real life. Says he does a lot of practice with experts prior to the scenes being filmed.

    • Kathy

      He was in Daddy Daycare with Eddie Murphy, He seemed like an ordinary kid in that so I think he is just a great actor making the aspergers look real.

  • Zac

    About time EW gives Parenthood some recognition. It’s one of the best drama shows on TV. This episode was fantastic. All of the actors are brilliant, there is so much chemistry between them its unreal. I also enjoy when the four siblings are all together.

  • terry

    The whole poor Amber, woh is me, I am so smart and don’t fit in storyline is my least favorite part of the show. Otherwise, this is such a good show. My only other complaint is the way they all talk at once, very irritating.

    • Allison

      Didn’t Amber skip the SATs? I mean, I know she could have rescheduled them, but she didn’t seem that serious about school last year. I like Mae Whitman and the idea of Amber, but it doesn’t seem like the writers have figured out what to do with her yet.

    • marymary

      I come from a large family (very similar to the Braverman’s) and there are 5 siblings and most often we are talking at once.. I think it’s just a big family thing, lol

      • conor O’Brien

        i agree, i come from 5 sibs and we r Irish and we all shout at once!

      • It’s true

        I think one of the things I love most about this show is how the siblings all talk over each other. It’s written extremely well. I also come from a big family, so maybe I’m used to deciphering what everyone is saying – or at least getting the gist of it. But I can see how if you’re not used to that kind of interaction, it would be frustrating to try and follow. They do the same thing on “Brothers and Sisters,” but I think the writers of Parenthood do a better job.

    • bootsycolumbia

      I come from a family of four kids and one single mom, and we all talked at once. I didn’t think anything of it until a friend finally told me to stop interrupting her. I wasn’t even aware that I was!

  • Francesco Cerniglia

    Absolutely agree with every point of your review. Peter Krause better get an emmy nod! I totally love this show! What are your feelings about renewal Ken? Can I keep my hopes up? I’d hate to see Nbc making a big mistake come May…

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