Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why Parenthood is the best thing on TV

I am about to make a statement that is going to make a statement that is going to upset some people. Ready? NBC’s “Parenthood” is the best show on television. Why? Well, that’s a little more complex.
The show centers on the Braverman family: parents Zeek and Camille, adult children Sarah, Julia, Crosby and Adam, each with their own families to deal with also. Sarah recently went broke and had to move herself and her two teenage children back in with her parents. Julia is a workaholic, who fears her daughter likes her husband better. Crosby, a commitment-aphobe, recently found out that he has a five year son. And Adam has a teenage daughter and a young son, recently diagnosed with Asperger’s.
In the past decade or two, American television has seen a shift in the portrayal of the American family. While I see that as a good thing (most families aren’t the Cleavers), this shift has almost gone too far.
That’s why “Parenthood” is so good. It’s portraying a real family. They have had their problems, their trials, their differences and their rifts between each other, but at the end of the day, they are still a family and know how to come together and love each other unconditionally when it’s most necessary.
All families are a little dysfunctional. So is this one. All families have their problems. So does this one. There is someone within this family that everyone will be able to see in their own, or a family of someone they know. They don’t gloss over things and they aren’t so dysfunctional they are unbelievable. They present with grace that no one is perfect – that we can all only do the best we can with what we’re given and go from there.
There was a scene in the third episode that is the epitome of what I love. Julia was having trouble teaching her daughter to swim. Adam and his wife were waiting to hear back from a school for their son, who was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s while dealing with the fact that they were missing out on their daughter’s life because of the attention they put on their son. Crosby was still coping with the revelation about his son and Sarah was still picking up the pieces of her former life. To celebrate the little girl learning to swim, however, the entire family came together to celebrate at the pool.
The show is well done, without being overdone. It’s dramatic without being melodramatic. It’s real without being overly heavy. And I think we need more TV like it.

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