After last Thursday’s performance by Kristina “Cry Hard 2: Cry Harder” Braverman during the Berkeley mayoral debate, I was primed and ready for another exercise in Parenthood-induced tear-duct drainage. Maybe Kristina would refer to Max in another moving speech, I thought before this week’s episode aired. Or perhaps someone would note that Haddie exists, which would really get the eye juices flowing because Kristina would feel so tearily terrible for forgetting she has a whole other daughter no one even mentions anymore.
Unfortunately, none of that happened in this week’s episode of Parenthood. This was an even more dry-eyed episode than the one that previously prompted me to complain about the lack of moisture in my ocular region. Therefore, this cry-cap will deviate slightly from its usual format. Instead of covering the episode’s big cry moments, it will instead touch on the one almost-cry moment, a laugh-out-loud moment, and the conversations that totally didn’t need to happen in this week’s episode of Parenthood but did anyway, because Bravermans never know when to shut their yaps.
The almost-cry moment: Julia, Camille, and the suitcase. This episode was called “Speaking of Baggage,” and no one is dragging around more emotional carry-ons right now than Julia Braverman. She’s feeling adrift because Joel’s never around, she has no job, and Sydney and Victor refuse to pick up all of their junk. By the way, did anyone else think Julia’s screaming tirade at the kids was relatively minor? If the worst thing you do at a low point is yell and throw a Nerf football or two, I sort of feel like you’re winning at this whole parenting thing.
Anyway, Julia’s pent-up emotions spilled over a couple of times in this episode, particularly when she gave Camille that spiffy suitcase to take on her trip to Italy. (More baggage — get it?) “Going to Italy is about me,” Camille told her daughter. “It’s about the other person in the marriage.” At which point Julia’s face contorted and she played it off like she was overcome with tearful joy because her mom’s going to explore art and eat pasta on another continent, but really, she’s just sad because even hot desk sex can’t seem to repair her marriage. Again: I didn’t cry, but this scene was the one that came closest to making me cry. I feel bad for Julia, even though the truth is, she’s taking on the same role Joel played for years while exhibiting far less angst about it. Cry factor (on a scale of 1–5 tears): 0.25 tears.
The laugh-out-loud moment: straight talk with Max Braverman. Max Braverman is hard-wired to tell it like it is. Often this leads to hilarious results, as it did during that classic Braverman dinner beneath Zeek and Camille’s multiple strings of outdoor globe lights, where Max announced that he had found a picture of his aunt Sarah tucked in a drawer at Hank’s studio. “It’s because he liked you,” Max noted. “But he says he doesn’t like you anymore, because you’re flaky and you have baggage.” (The baggage motif was huge this week.) I couldn’t decide what I enjoyed more about this scene: Max’s bluntness, Sarah’s irked confusion (“Are we really having this conversation?”), or Crosby’s obvious delight ("This is the best conversation we’ve had for months!”).
Now, onto the unnecessary conversations:
Unnecessary Conversation No. 1: Sarah talks to Hank. There was no reason for Sarah to go to Hank’s studio and ask him not to discuss her again with Max. Honestly, no reason at all, especially since it threatened to jeopardize Hank’s relationship with Max. Just let it lie, Sarah Braverman. Or text Hank. You know how to do that now, remember? You learned when you were forced to text Drew at school during the premiere earlier this season. But if Sarah had just texted, the Parenthood writers wouldn’t have a scene, and we also wouldn’t have been able to see how nicely Sarah did her makeup when she went to see Hank, proving that she still kinda likes him.
Unnecessary Conversation No. 2: Adam telling his dad to go to Italy. Hey, Adam Braverman. Why is it a big deal for your mom to go to Italy on her own? Did it occur to you that perhaps she might want to travel solo, or that maybe it’s none of your business to tell your dad it’s his duty to go, or that a spouse going on a trip for a few weeks without the other doesn’t have to be a huge deal? The only reason that conversation needed to occur was so another Braverman kid could find out about the possible sale of the house. Because you just know that’s going to become a thing at some other Braverman dinner that will turn super awkward with no help from good ol’ non-word-mincing Max Braverman.
Unnecessary Conversation No. 3: Hank visits Sarah to tell her he’ll continue letting Max come to the studio. Seriously: You guys know about e-mail, right? And telephones?
Unnecessary Conversation No. 4: All conversations between Drew and Natalie. I really like Miles Heizer, and obviously he needs some kind of storyline to stay relevant to the proceedings. I’m just on the fence about whether Natalie — who looks a little older than a typical college freshman — is the most compelling way to maintain that relevancy. On one hand, I like the idea of exploring dormitory hook-up culture, especially with the girl as the aggressor. On the other hand: Oh my God, Parenthood writers, please do not make Drew get her pregnant. That already happened to Drew once before, and once was enough. Actually, here’s what will probably happen instead: Drunk Natalie will knock on the door when Drew’s not around, start hooking up with his roommate instead, and then Drew will walk in on them and feel terrible and everything will be horrible and awkward. Yep. Calling it. So going to happen.
So, this non-cry-cap is already over and I didn’t even mention the fact that Amber is clearly having doubts about Ryan and they probably will decide not to get married in a forthcoming, Über-emotional episode of Parenthood. I look forward to that, and I look forward to next week, when hopefully, Julia’s personal troubles will finally have the common decency to make us all cry for real. I mean, really. It’s the least that Braverman’s baggage can do.