Be forewarned that this post will contain…light…spoilers.
You know when you just know? 3 years ago when Parenthood first premiered on NBC, I knew it was going to be one of my shows. I wasn’t ready to watch it yet, and I wasn’t sure when exactly I was going to do so, but I knew. After 3 years of putting it off, the last month I decided to play catch up and, in all honesty, it’s been one of the most pleasurable TV viewing experiences I’ve ever had. For many, TV is just TV. Everyone has a favorite show, sure, but not everyone will buy all 7 seasons of Buffy or the 6 seasons of Lost and power through them in a summer and romantically and obsessively become one with this product, because that’s all it is at the end of the day. But when a TV experience is a TV EXPERIENCE, it’s more than can be described. This post is becoming a little much for me, so let’s tone it down. But what I am trying to say is that Parenthood is an experience.
There are very, very, VERY few shows that deal with realism so well. Mad Men does it brilliantly but it’s a look back. Parenthood absolutely traps the viewer in this time capsule and doesn’t let you out. The recaps before the show do a great job for those who’ve missed an episode or a scene while going to the washroom, but it’s something you have to start and you have to finish. It’s all very non-inclusive of the audience. Parenthood isn’t for everyone, though it’s showcases everyone. When you watch the show and see the characters grow, you tend to realize you know each character or you yourself identify with each character. But the stark reality of the show and it’s plethora of awkward moments (when Haddie’s pocket calls Kristina – her mom – while she was having sex for the first time? I…) is a lot for some people. If you liked the gloss of Brothers & Sisters, you won’t like the dirtiness of Parenthood. The show regularly closes the door on the viewer, allowing you to simply peak into the world of the Bravermans and that’s why it works so well. Parenthood isn’t asking you to like the Bravermans – there are probably entire episodes where I’ve hated everyone on the show – or even care about them, but this is their world that is happening in front of the cameras and you can be apart of it or not.
There are many reality shows on TV that document the struggles of parenting, families – large families in particular – but none of them even come close to the actual reality that every episode of Parenthood contains. For instance, season 3 contains the story-line of Julie and Joel trying to adopt a baby through exterior motives. The way in which it ends is absolutely devastating, heartbreaking and tiring YET, ultimately satisfying. This show doesn’t give the audience what it wants. Ross and Rachel won’t end up together on this show because it’s for the audience. If something happens on this show – good or bad – it’s because it is supposed to happen. There have been moments I’ve absolutely not cared for the show (the whole thing with the secretary and Adam at The Luncheonette is a prime example) but they come and they go and we move on, they move on because, well, that is what family does.
But this show’s simple brilliance isn’t in the heavy plotlines. This show works the best in it’s silent, most demure moments. Be it a hand gesture, a look – the looks they give each other, gah – or even a nod, any of it, I believe it. I believe these people are family. I know they aren’t but I won’t accept that. I also won’t accept the excuse from other shows that don’t feature different demographics like Parenthood does. The blood relatives of the Bravermans – excluding Jabar – are a lot of white folk. It’s a very white show, yet, it never feels white. Why? This show contains so many moments of color and diversity through it’s secondary characters that it’s so gratifying to see. It’s not insulting either, like in a Glee-way where the stereotypes are stereotypes but the character is a Doctor and just so happens to be black. Outside of race, sexuality, gender and everything else is covered (for the most part).
Maybe it’s just me that feels this way. It does decently for an NBC show, but the ratings aren’t massive and I know one other person that actively watches this show so I’m not telling you to watch Parenthood. Frankly don’t because maybe you shouldn’t. But do it if you can and if you want to and I promise you, it’s a great ride.