'Parenthood' review: Cee Lo Green stole the spotlight from baby Nora

Because Parenthood is, among other good things, a paragon of domestic semi-realism (nope, still not buying that coffee-cart-girl adoption), I was dismayed to see how Kristina and her mere-days-old Nora were ignored once they got home from the hospital. This was mostly because… Cee Lo Green was coming to town! In some nifty NBC/The Voice crossover, Green checked out Crosby’s “smells like Jerry Garcia’s socks” old studio and was sold on the idea of recording in the room where Janis Joplin made music. Green’s cover of “Piece of My Heart” was promising, but because of Adam’s delightfully nervous dithering (delightful for us as viewers appreciating Peter Krause’s performance), Crosby was put in the unusual position of being the grown-up, the wise one, the guy who knew what business required — mostly requiring Adam to clam up and try to avoid doing his goofy-white-guy dancing in the control room. Another terrific turn by Dax Shepard here.

It’s too bad Haddie had to be a brat about her college essay versus Kristina’s exhaustion — couldn’t our usually-sensitive Haddie have overcome her jealousy and appreciated that beautiful baby sister sleeping next to her wiped-out mother? Oh, well, she came around with a grudging apology by the end.

I like John Corbett as Seth and all, but his periodic pop-ins for a which-way-to-rehab? cameo always drag down the show. Yes, they permit Lauren Graham to emote beautifully, but her Sarah can do that with her kids or her parents, can’t she? Time and subplots are precious on this show; we can use the time for more details about the stories we’re invested in long-term. Okay, I’m not completely heartless: Sarah’s anguish, and the spectacle of her running into a wall of hostility from Craig T. Nelson’s Zeek, was wrenching. (It was also a false dilemma: Sarah — and Joel and Julia — should just give money directly to the rehab, not to Seth.) (Oh, and way to finallystand up to Zeek, Joel.)

And the conclusion — Seth telling his kids he was going to do this, “it’s gonna be tough” but “we’ll do it as a family” — huh? Even Sarah was not buying into this that much, was she? Mae Whitman’s Amber has a lot of well-justified anger to work through before she gets with that program, and Miles Heizer’s Drew was still too blissfully addled at having kissed Amy to be fully on board. Can’t the Bravermans have one week of happiness? Imagine the fine episode that could have existed with Green being more funny than moody, Sarah smooching Jason Ritter’s Mark a lot and letting Seth find his own way to rehab, and everyone cooing over that baby!

But Parenthood remains true to itself, in an admirable, if ratings-repelling way. The great mass of America is going to continue to find this series too downbeat, even as the rest of us revel in its complications.

Agree? Disagree?

Twitter: @kentucker


Comments (119 total) Add your comment
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  • Virgo Mom

    So glad there is finally a recap to mon of the best dramas on t.v., I love this show and everyone on it but I agree less Seth and more Mark please. The whole adoption thing was just too easy, we’ll see how that plays out. Look forward to this show all week, way more than Greys Anatomy now.

    • Virgo Mom

      *one of the best dramas

      • quan

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    • Glory

      I’m not sure this “officially” a recap…but I’ll take what I can get! At least it gives a place to come and chat about Parenthood.

    • T

      Totally agree. Love this show, but Seth has to go. Thank you, EW, for recapping my favorite TV drama.

    • Ally

      I agree..and can I just say that I hate Haddie?? That girl is so clueless and extremely mean to her mother. You’d think a girl as smart as her would realize how tired her mom is with a new baby and maybe help out instead of looking at all that mess and just walking away and pouting. She is such a brat. But I love this show anyway!

  • mydove

    I want a husband like Joel.

    • T.O

      Agreed. Swoon <3

    • Ava

      I was just thinking last night how sexy Joel is starting to look with that beard.

      • endo

        Starting? That man has been FINE since episode one.

  • sean

    Joel! Way to finally stand up and say something meaningful and emotionally surprising! That was my favorite part of this week’s episode. Sadly, Sarah has folded into the trap that is Seth once again. So frustrating, but I guess that’s what the writers are going for.

  • hlynn

    First I have to say that I LOVE THIS SHOW! The cast is amazing and deserves a full fledged recap each week so we can vote for it among the favorite episodes each week! Seriously EW…you recap Pan Am but not Parenthood that you constantly praise???? But onto the topic at hand…I have to agree that this episode did not seem “realistic” in that no one was helping out new mom Kristina with the new baby while Adam was working. Where were the retired grandparents??? Having dinner with the rest of the family??? Not only not realistic but down right weird! Hated the Ce-Lo storyline but love John Corbett. I hope once he gets out of rehab he becomes a full fledged cast member. I too am sick of the “pop-ins”.

    • Ava

      How about ” EW YOU recap Football NIGHT In AMERICA but NOT (fill in the blank with any television show)” There are so many deserving shows that don’t get a recap and crap like Jersey Shore does get a recap. Honestly are there people that watch Jersey Shore that can read?

      • ag

        Jersey Shore is a travesty, but the recaps Darren Franich (sp?) writes are pure genius. I’d love to see someone other than “I seem to hate every TV show I cover, yet somehow I’m still EW’s official TV Guide” Ken Tucker write about Parenthood, but it is still nice to see there are other fans out there…

    • ayla

      how come haddie dsnt wana cuddle her baby sister. she is too old for this sibling rivalry. christina really has her hands full. and Adam has become a real tosser

  • Where is Ozzie when you need him?

    This show is low in the ratings because it so predictable.
    Zeek for all his tough manliness needs his sons to grow a pair. Who believes that Adam with a newborn, special need kid and college bound daughter chooses to work with his slacker, social security stealing, man-child brother over a decent, well paying, secure job? The sisters and Hattie whine all the time. Viewers can only take so much of unbelievable plots and actors. The actress who plays Julia just can’t pull off the high intelligence required of a hotshot lawyer, Her husband is to good to be true and BORING. The intrusion of sappy music throughout the hour is another turn off.

    • Lisa

      Disagree with your whole comment. Also need to add – the show does great demo ratings (which are the important ones), so apparently many people disagree with you lol.

    • davey

      I don’t understand the people who bitch and complain about tv shows that they actually watch! why would you watch a show that you seem to HATE?
      For me, Parenthood is the one show on tv that actually seems the most realistic from anything else on the tube. The acting is top notch (and last night I found out that Peter Krause and Lauren Graham are actually in a serious relationship which made me very happy for some reason), and the dybnamics between the parents and children are simply breathtaking sometimes!!!

    • ITA!!! Where is…

      I TOTALLLLLY agree with everything you just posted. This show is just bad.
      Who loves this show?? The expectations must be pretty lame or have very low.

      • Nick

        I do. It’s a great and realistic family drama. The best on TV.

      • DonnaK1109

        I love this show .. you are crazy.

      • missdebbe

        I love this show. If you don’t like it don’t watch. There are hundreds of other channels to choose instead. Me….I think the show is wonderful and entertaining!

    • Suz

      I like this show because I find it “lighter” than real life, which can be heavy in these situations. It is escape to another world where a person like Adam could make this decision. But I agree wholeheartedly. It is NOT realistic. And I’m not buying that Julia is a high-powered lawyer.

      • HG

        I don’t agree. Many times in close knit families reason is trumped by family. Logical people make illogical decisions in order to support their family members. Plus, Adam did not turn down a job he really wanted. He turned down the soda salesman job. I find that realistic because trends are showing that during times of recession some people take it as an opportunity to take a risk that they never would have before. Finally, really, people? It is a television show, where is your sense of suspended belief?

    • Emma

      It celosd some time in the late 70′s very early 80′s maybe…. not sure why except times were changing… and what took over was Tanglewoods…an ok at best American place

  • Heidi

    Love Joel – and I do have a hubby like him which is why I love him.
    As for the coffee cart girl and the adoption storyline, I’ve had something like this happen to me……Long story but there are those kismet situations where you meet and the birth mother feels a connection and wants you to be their child’s mom and dad. Something just seals the deal. Happened to us three times. So there you go, not as uncommon as you think.
    I felt crushed for the girl who’se face crumpled up crying as soon as she knew they couldn’t see how hard that was for her.

  • hazelgs

    love love love this show, great cast, great story lines. Don’t understand why it isn’t an out of the ball park hit, wait a minute it’s not stupid, guess that’s why. As for predictable comment, what isn’t these days.

  • Mandy

    I love Joel more than anyone else on the show. Julia is damn lucky!
    With this smothering family, how did Christina not have more help? And what is with Haddie being completely useless. If you want your parents to do something for you, maybe do a load of laundry or fill the dishwasher!
    And while I also love John Corbett, this storyline is annoying. Mostly because Sarah is an idiot. Though it should be noted, Zeek was more thinking it was a waste of money and not that Seth will necessarily run off with a cheque. Even if they pay the bill, he doesn’t have to stay. But really, she is jeopardizing her relationship with Mark, who is awesome. Also the whole “as a family” thing at the end makes me think Seth thinks he is getting it all back if he gets clean.

  • Sina

    I loved this show the first season but now it’s getting on my nerves and is predictable. First and foremost, Lauren Graham ruins this show. I wish my fave tv actress didn’t get cancer and could have been on the show. I wish there was more of Amber. Whatever happened to that WONDERFUL relationship she had with Hattie’s ex the first season. They had so much chemistry and it was so romantic. True she “stole” her cousin’s boyfriend but they were so cute. I miss them. I miss season 1 Julia who was ruthless. Now she’s baby obessed.

    • Lisa

      Um. No. That’s all that needs to be said about your comments.

    • Ryan

      lol are you one those of weird bitter Maura fans who are still not over it? Lauren is easily one of the only good things this show has going for it.

    • lu

      Sina, are you the same awkward person that is ALWAYS bashing Lauren Graham and her character in every forum/review/site? No ofense. Just asking.

    • Glory

      Sooooo…you hate Lauren Graham because Maura Tierney had to back out? Hmm. Makes no sense. But, whatev.

    • browncoatali

      I don’t understand the Lauren Graham hate either. I love Maura Tierney as well, but I think that her Sarah would have been a completely different character. I don’t think she would have been as soft and wistful as Lauren can play her – not that Maura can’t do emotion, it just would have been different – perhaps a little harder and less forgiving a character.

      • Wash

        I totally agree. There is something about Maura Tierny that just makes her come off as a bit harsh. I like the whimsy that LG brings to the role.

    • Mostafa

      OMG, I am sinedng you pups a hammer to break the TV, watching that stuff will turn your little minds to mush, shame on Mommy. LOL Luv and hugs, Spencer

  • Noah

    Cee-lo Green has really white teeth… Interestingly enough.

    But yeah, I agree that the show is predictable and conveniently-plotted at times, but it’s not really trying to get by on mystery or fancy narrative tricks, is it? It’s a simple family drama with writing and acting of a very high caliber. And that’s more than enough over here.

  • Carrie

    How ridiculous – Lauren Graham is so talented and your comment is made even sillier by the fact that she was particularly wonderful in this week’s scenes. Also, I saw the oeiginal pilot with Maura. She was nothing special as Sarah, LG is so much better.

  • johnc

    It is an underappreciated show!!

    Terra Nova should learn from Parenthood if Terra Nova wants to be a family show.

  • Karoline

    My favorite show of all time is ‘Friday Night Lights’ and it’s obvious that ‘Parenthood’ has the same team behind it. The best part of last night’s episode was the role switch between Adam and Crosby. Continuing to demonstrate that none of these characters is one-dimensional (just like in FNL) will make this show watchable and interesting.

    • trish

      Love and miss FNL and hoping Parenthood will survive as I have become as invested in these characters as well. Do you really care about Jerseyshore or the Housewives? Give me a break.

  • Lia

    Love the show, CeLo Green was great. These characters are so complex

  • mia

    More Mark please. Well I enjoy John Corbett, I love me some Jason Ritter and his character is adorable here. Please don’t mess up a good thing! At least let them have more than 2 episodes being happy!

    • Ryan

      you should get ready to say goodbye to Mark. His and Sarah’s breakup should happen any episode now…

      • Lisa

        And I miss Alex,,,,I thought he really added to the shows value and its like he’s just gone. I also agree, where was the rest of the family to help with the baby…they missed the mark on that one.

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