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Parenthood Cry-Cap: The Tragic Skort

PARENTHOOD -- "All Aboard Who's Coming Aboard"

For the first half hour of this week’s episode of Parenthood, I was a little worried. I hadn’t cried yet, and I knew that as soon as the episode ended, I would need to write a cry-cap. How could I do that without any tears, nary even a gentle eye mist, from which to draw inspiration?

I mean, the whole plot involving Julia and her new friend Ed, a.k.a. Roy from The Office (David Denman), wasn’t particularly moving. Clearly their friendship will probably threaten Julia’s marriage to Joel, but it was too soon to even go preemptive-verklempt about that, especially when Julia and Ed’s participation on the sustainability committee was so distracting. By the way, the sustainability committee: Is that a real thing? Because in my experience, most schools have a hard enough time getting parents to volunteer for PTA carnivals, let alone convincing them to sift through the elementary-school trash in order to separate the recyclables from the compost pile.

This week’s Crosby, Jasmine, Jabbar, and Aida subplot may have had its high points, including the sight of Crosby’s early-morning abs and Crosby’s commitment to making sure Jabbar gets special time with Dad. But it was a source of frustration more than genuine emotion. Seriously, Jasmine: Take the baby outside when she starts crying in a restaurant. I know you’re nursing, but there’s got to be a way to defuse the situation, at least enough to avoid getting booted from an establishment that obviously serves irresistible bread sticks.

Fortunately, as it turned out, I didn’t need to rely on either of those two corners of the Braverman family tree for my cry moments. I got three from other corners, all in the last 25 minutes of the episode. As a veteran viewer of this NBC drama, I should have known better than to worry. Parenthood always ladles on the cry sauce during its second half.

Now, without further ado, the three big-cry moments from last night’s episode:

1. Sarah’s wedding conversation with Amber. As expected, once Amber announced her plans to marry Ryan, Sarah Braverman seemed concerned. At first she thought it was best to say nothing about those concerns, other than in a passive-aggressive way. Then, after talking to Hank, she thought maybe she should speak up immediately. But after a subsequent conversation with Adam, she decided the better move would be to play the role of supportive parent, something Zeek Braverman failed to be for her when she was a young fiancée getting ready to tie the knot with Seth.

Hence she showed up at Amber’s place and said the following: “Your dad and I got married in a courthouse. And on that day, I was wearing a tragic skort.” At this point, I started laughing and crying at the same time, which reminded me of that line from Steel Magnolias, when Dolly Parton says, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” It’s mine, too, especially when the laughter and tears are sparked by something that happens on Parenthood.

With an assist from Mae Whitman, bringing her weepy to the table like a total freaking pro, Lauren Graham/Sarah Braverman continued: “With your permission, I would like to help give you the day that you pictured, that honors how you feel about Ryan and how I feel about you.” And then her face sort of crumpled, and then I was sitting on my sofa in an emotional river, and then she busted out the bridal magazines and the appletini ingredients, and I wanted to cry-hug all over both Sarah Braverman and her daughter Amber, who probably shouldn’t be getting married so young, but whatever. Don’t talk to me about things like that when I’m this emotional.

Lauren Graham is not even remotely old enough to be my mother. But I wonder: Is it too late for her to adopt me, become my mom, and pour appletinis down my throat while she spins fairy tales about skort weddings and pretty magazine dresses? Because I would like that very, very much.

Cry factor (on a scale of one tear to five): four tears.

2. Kristina’s discussion of her mayoral run with Adam: Kristina got a hard-core campaign manager this week, in the form of Heather Hall, played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell (a.k.a. Jess from Friday Night Lights) as the Parenthood version of Olivia Pope. The ballsy Heather vetted Adam by asking him all sorts of personal questions, questions that made it clear that Adam wasn’t 100 percent behind his wife’s mayoral run. And that, like all things on this show, led to a Conversation, Capitalized, in which Adam and Kristina ping-ponged some loud words back and forth until Adam shout-mitted, again, that he was concerned about the stress she was bringing upon herself by running for office. “You almost died!” he said. Then Kristina broke down, just a little, just enough to make viewers reach for a Kleenex. And she said: “You are 100 percent right. I almost died. But I didn’t. That’s exactly why I’m doing this.”

You know who’s the only politician whom I would trust right now to stop the government shutdown, assuming she were actually in Congress and also not a fictional character? Kristina Braverman.

Cry factor: three tears.

3. The possible house sale: Zeek and Camille don’t get enough screen time on this show, so it was nice to see the matriarch and patriarch involved in a little subplot about getting a home-security system. That little subplot led to a discussion about possibly selling their house, a decision that presumably will be dragged out throughout this season. (At the moment, I am predicting that Amber and Ryan will get married in the Braverman backyard, just before the close of the sale on the place.)

When Camille first suggested the possibility of moving out and downsizing, Zeek completely dismissed it. And who can blame him? For God’s sake, look at the sun porch in which they were having this discussion. Most people would rip off their right arms just for the overhead light fixtures in that place, not to mention the whole damn quaint-California-bohemian house.

“We raised our babies here,” Camille said, swallowing the word here because it hurt to say it out loud. (Note: That was your cue, as a Parenthood viewer, to begin the tearing-up process.) “We made a lot of memories here. But let's face it, the kids don't come around half as much as they used to.” Then she made the point that, as a couple, it was time to start their Act Three.

I have a feeling Zeek will eventually agree. And then it’s bye-bye to the family gathering place, which means the opening credits for this show will have to change and that the cry-cap for the episode in which the family finds out the house is going on the market will fly off the charts on the bawl-o-meter scale.

But in the meantime, for right now, let’s just focus on this scene, which rates as follows:

Cry factor: three tears.

Photo: Jordin Althaus/NBC