'Parenthood' season premiere review: Haddie's bad hair and other bad decisions, plus: Happy birthday, Sarah!

I’ll get the superficial observation out of the way first: Oh, Haddie, what did you do to your hair? You strike me as the kind of girl who would have watched every season Felicity alone in your room when you were younger; did you learn nothing from Keri Russell’s disastrous season-two ‘do?

Now, on to better thoughts. Parenthood began its third season on Tuesday night with a bit of forward time-jumping. Since we last saw everyone, Kristina (Monica Potter) has become well and fully-rounded pregnant, while husband Adam (Peter Krause) is still unemployed and spending far too much time thinking about what he’ll have for lunch today. Amber (Mae Whitman), who’s done herself no more favors in the hair department than has Haddie (Sarah Ramos), is looking to get out from under the smothering wing of her mother and move into her own apartment. And speaking of Sarah (Lauren Graham), she’s turning 40, with the requisite big Braverman birthday party planned.

All of this led to some fine tension, with Sarah throwing a particularly nice fit when Amber opts out early from the birthday festivities. (These two are so well-matched in temperament, I really hope Mae Whitman isn’t being eased out of the show too early.) The return of Jason Ritter as the high school teacher just made for Sarah was a nice touch — can’t she get together with him now that Amber is no longer his pupil?

Although I enjoyed the inside-joke of the line, “I know there’s alcohol at high school parties; I watched Friday Night Lights” (Katims and Michael B. Jordan, who plays Alex, are FNL vets), I winced a bit at the notion that Alex, like his Vince on FNL and his Wallace in The Wire, is being set up as a character defined by his flaws and his disadvantages. It was simultaneously appalling and hilarious, however, to see Sarah Ramos trashed at the party.

Are you as hopeful as I am that the latest pipe-dream of Crosby’s — to get Adam to refurbish an old recording studio and Pursue Their Dreams — really becomes an ongoing plot, and not just a three-week arc that will end with Dax Shepard and Krause acting out their fraternal hostilities so well once again? I mean, I don’t buy the idea that the Dead and Janis Joplin really recorded in this place, though I suppose, it being Berkeley, the legends might have stumbled in there a few times. But think about it: At the very least, this would be a groovy place for Max (Max Burkholder) to play his drums!

I’m pleased that Parenthood no longer competes in its time period with The Good Wife, that excellent series that basically draws from the same audience pool and which will now air on Sundays. Not that I think Parenthood is suddenly going to start winning its time period once Dana Delaney returns with new episodes of Body of Proof on ABC. As a TV producer said to me last year, Parenthood has a difficult task: Unlike law and medicine shows, Parenthood has no inherent dramatic structure each week (a case to try, a medical mystery to solve). This producer pointed out that Parenthood has to generate its own drama (and light comedy moments) solely from family dynamics, which are more difficult to invent and maintain, and aren’t as immediately grabbing to any channel-flipping viewers.

All credit, therefore, to showrunner Jason Katims for overseeing show that keeps many interesting subplots moving along, while nurturing the weaker ones (such as Julia and Joel’s never-ending, tedious adoption proceedings) like ailing little puppies, until they get better.

How’d you feel about the return of Parenthood? What do you think of the season’s various new hairstyles?

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (131 total) Add your comment
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  • Kay Winter

    I love this show. I was so happy to see it return. Love Mae Whitman’s hair. I hope see doesn’t disappear either.
    Okay for Sarah Ramos to have a change also. They are both such great actresses. This music studio has to make it. It will surprise everyone.I’m sure John Corbett will show up to play there too!

    • quan

      Haddie’s hair and clothes-yikes! It’s like flashback to junior high. I kept waiting for someone to make a comment about it, but no one did!BTW,I wanna share a good news to you.My best friend ,she just has announced her wedding with a millionaire man who is a businessman!they met via Millionaireloving.C óM ..it is the largest and best club for rich people and their admirers to chat online. …You do not have to be rich or famous. ,but you can meet one , It’s worthy a try,Maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends!

      • Kathi M. Snider

        Wow! I’m just SO happy for your “best friend”. Is this the same friend that’s on EVERY other EW message board that’s marrying a millionaire or is this a DIFFERENT best friend. Why not leave these message boards for purists and try to make a few cents elsewhere?!

      • jully2

        OMG My pretty friend has just announced her wedding with a great man who is a celebrity!
        They met via ~himillionaires -c’ō’м~~
        It is nice club for rich men or pretty girls mate.
        You do not need to be wealthy or famous, but you can meet your true love, it’s worthy a try.

      • Gina

        Doesn’t anyone vet these comments? What idiot would believe that a “millionaire” trolls a dating websites that sports such a desperately pathetic name? Stop trying to sell your crap in the comments section of EW. This is about “Parenthood” and “Parenthood” ONLY!

      • Dorimifah Solatido

        They’re bot- generated, you dolts. And no one reviews these posts for content.

    • HLB

      Although i dont find either of the hairdos flattering, its in keeping w/the 2 girls charachters; Amber trying to look edgy & rebellious (yes, its 80s but styles ARE retro nowadays) & Haddie as the smart/somewhat geek but trying to be part of the IN crowd at school; neither style is so far fetched. Lets face it, they are both fine actresses so thats not a major stumbling block to their crediblity.

  • Randy

    LOVE this show. Easily the best ensemble cast on TV. Honestly, Haddie’s Hair version 3.0 is way better than last year’s “I’m in high school but I look 40″ do she had going on. Also, can we please get Jason Ritter to join the show full-time? His chemistry with Lauren Graham is off the charts!!

    • Amy

      I agree it’s definitely better than last year’s style. Let’s face it – that weird, round forehead was in desperate need of some bangs. Once she straightened it out for the party, it looked great on her. The poodle curls, not so much.

    • Valley Girl

      ITA re: Jason Ritter. Sorry “The Event” was canceled, but if it means he can be a regular on this show, where do I sign up?

      • nancy

        love love love jason ritter in this show. mark cyr and sarah braverman are my fave couple on tv!

      • Parenthoodisthebest

        Jason Ritter has great chemistry with Lauren Graham, and I hope they keep him on the show. Like Ken said, he really does match perfectly with Sarah’s temperment. I loved how he shuddered at the end when he gave her Amber’s diploma and told her that stealing it was the scariest thing he had ever done. So cute!

    • Sue

      IMO, Lauren Graham HAS no chemistry! I can’t STAND her and wish she’d leave the show! Bring in anyone BUT her to play Sarah! Blech!

  • conor

    funny my niece just got her hair done like Ambers, so who r we old men to judge! i love love this show, seems so natural, love the interactions with most of the characters! and that everyone gets a look in! I’m a huge Lauren Graham fan, watch all of the Gilmore girls, didnt think she could pull off the mother/daughter thing again, but she has, and may i dare to say better and more realistic?

    • Asha

      Amber’s hair is at least trendy. Haddie, I don’t know what you were thinking girl.

      • Elli

        Amber’s hair was “trendy” in 1987 when it appeared on one of the actresses in Thirtysomething.

    • Valley Girl

      Was this the Halloween episode? Because there was a lot of scary hair going on! Amber’s was 80’s-Sheena Easton-Meets-Rihanna, and Haddie’s was just a mess.

  • Andrea

    So happy that Parenthood is back! One of my favorite shows right now, for sure. Not a fan of Haddie’s hair at all. She kind of looked like a wet dog until the party. I’m glad Crosby and Jasmine are friends again, I felt so bad for both of them last season.
    I love the mother-daughter chemistry between Sarah and Amber. I didn’t think Lauren Graham could have another one like it after Gilmore Girls, but i was pleasantly surprised.
    i definitely agree with you on Alex. I hope he doesn’t turn into that character that’s defined by his flaws. Sadly, it looks like that’s where it’s headed, i just hope it doesn’t do any major damage.

  • Karen

    Love this show, love the story lines and acting. But, what’s with the unsteady camera? It makes me dizzy.

    • sunrise

      Thank you! A jiggling camera will force me to stop watching one of my favorite shows. It really makes me quite dizzy and gives me a headache. I had to stop watching FNL early on because of this and I know I’m not alone.

      There’s no reason for jumpy camera work. None. It doesn’t attract viewers but it does lose some.

    • Patrick

      I agree. I felt that the up-close shots were way to shaky and they kept switching, trying to get several different angles. I actually had to stop watching for awhile because I was getting so dizzy.

  • nj writer

    Sarah Ramos’ crying to the police as they arrested her boyfriend …”Please , officer he’s my boyfriend.” Great scene!

  • Jessica

    What I don’t understand is when the police arrested Alex for disorderly conduct, why didn’t they also arrest all of those clearly underage drunk teenagers? And why would the parents press charges against him, when their son threw a kegger in their house, with alcohol and children? Aren’t they liable for that? That kinda annoyed me.

    • kim in kentucky

      Agree – but the parents prob are ones who think their child is an angel and would NEVER do anything wrong

    • TV Freak

      I was thinking the same thing! So not real!

      • SeattleEllen

        Agreed! I also kept thinking how is Amber going to pay for this new apt.? No mention, that I know of yet that she has a job. Since this show is so realistic in so many other ways – I hope there will be some mention of this. I hope we will see more of her with her brother, especially since supposedly John Corbett will be back.
        Loved the shout-out for Fri Night Lights! But I hope it isn’t a bad sign for Michael B. Jordan’s character.

    • nodnarb

      I was extremely annoyed by that! No way those kids or the parents would have called the cops with all those drunk teens in their house. I’m assuming that’ll be brought up in a future episode and that’s how Julia gets Alex’s charges dropped.

      • J.Norman

        That is the most likely scenario.

    • Annie

      I didn’t get that either and so they call the cops on Alex and he just sits there calmy waiting for the police? That doesn’t happen. As soon as cops are called to a party the party is over and there are teenagers running for their lives

      • Annie

        And I meant calmly

      • Ally

        I was thinking the same thing- I was very annoyed and thinking- So Alex you punch this guy and wait around for him to call the cops on you? Why didn’t he just leave?

    • Mary

      I fully agree – if that happen here the police would be all over the parents and the kids would be at the police station.

    • Paula

      I said the same thing to my husband. Not surprised about the pressing charges though – work for a school district in an affluent area and these kids do no wrong in their parents’ eyes. We get harassed if we suspend them at keggers their PARENTS threw for them. The police definitely would’ve arrested or ticketed most of these kids, as well as the parents though, as well as taken both kids involved in the fight in.

      • Hootie Hoo

        Very sloppy writting there, usually not something you see on this show. There is no way any of the Police stuff made any logical sense. It was just convenient and easy to write the way it happened. Completly unrealistic and disapointing.

      • Noelle

        I live in an affluent small city not too far from Berkeley and the police almost never arrest teenagers when breaking up a party. It wouldn’t, however, be unusual for them to arrest an African American kid who they don’t know. It sounds bad — and is bad — but it’s true.

  • kim in kentucky

    LOVE this show – just hope that NBC gives it the support it deserves — did they even advertise that it was coming back last night??

    • Lu

      Yep, they did

    • ALM

      I never saw anything advertised, either–my DVR just picked it up after being set last season. So glad it’s back!

      • davey

        That’s exactly what my DVR did as well! So glad the show didn’t change times :)

      • Valley Girl

        Thank goodness for the DVR set last season, too, or I would have missed it. I had already watched SOA and “Ringer,” and realized later that the DVR recorded “Parenthood.” Whew!

  • kathgal

    So happy to have my show back! There are some story lines I wish would go away, but even so, I would rather have them then nothing! Such great acting, love the flow and ‘ad lib’ feel of this show.

  • Kato

    I was soo excited to see the show come back and it didnt disappoint. Unlike many shows, the premiere was like a regular episode. No explosions and no babies born (yet). When i hear people complain about no quality tv. i always recommend this show,.

    • Sue

      I missed last week’s show! :-(( I didn’t think any of the shows premiered until the week of the Emmy’s. No wonder I didn’t know about the party and Alex punching out that guy. RATS!

  • Asha

    I am so glad I’m not the only one who was horrified by Haddie’s hair! OMG who told you a perm was a good option?! WHO?! You should sue them. Max also had really bad hair, I feel like he needs to take a page from the Swanson handbook and cut it high and tight. Other than that, I can’t say I was impressed by the premiere but I think maybe I was just having an off tv night. Can’t wait for next week!

  • Amy

    Haddie’s hair and clothes-yikes! It’s like flashback to junior high. I kept waiting for someone to make a comment about it, but no one did!

    • nodnarb

      They dress her so frumpy.

  • akri

    Love the show…glad is back…I hope ppl keep watching so it doesn’t get canceled. Yea her hair is awful..love Lauren and Jason 2gether..great chemistry..I keep hoping Alexis Bledel (Rory in GG) makes an appearance..:)

  • Derek

    Love, LOVE this show. It was great to see it return. Sarah and Mr. Cyr’s chemistry is soooo good. I really hope they continue to use Jason Ritter. Any scenes with those two leave me smiling. And Haddie’s hair killed me too. It was one of the first things I noticed. She looks like a hobbit!

  • CW

    Last night was the first time I watched Parenthood. What a great show and I’m glad to have something to look forward to on Tuesdays at 10pm. I usually watched The Good Wife and didn’t have DVR last year, if I did would’ve watched sooner but better late than never.
    Since this was first time watching I can’t make too many judgments on all the characters just yet. I will say that I was saddened by the whole Alex development (Michael B. Jordan is a real talent), this whole getting arrested after punching that kid it was too close to the downfall scenario that played out in FNL. Also really enjoyed the Amber and Sarah dynamic it was very touching and funny. All in all a really good show that I hope more of us Good Wife fans gravtitate towards now that our show has moved to Sunday.

    • tnsmoke

      I agree. I watched Parenthood last year and a few The Good Wife episodes but have been catching up with GW reruns this past few weeks. Both are excellent shows, top notch actors.

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