Can 'Parenthood' Pull Off This Election?

One of the more exciting developments this season on Parenthood was the fact that Kristina Braverman was fed up with politics in Berkeley and decided to take matters into her own hands. She put the miracle of her cancer survival to great use by running against the slimy Bob Little for mayor of Berkeley. It was a move worthy of celebration and if you're anything like me, tears. But as Kristina actually moved into her campaign, things started to shift and suddenly, one of the more empowering story lines Parenthood had going became a drag, so when the series finally had an episode without any Mayoral action, the positive difference was staggering. Thursday night's episode, "Speaking of Baggage," was the best so far in Season 4, and lo and behold, Kristina was almost nowhere to be found.

But there's a small part of me that feels awful for not missing Mrs. Braverman's political aspirations. Shouldn't I still be excited about her willingness to stand up against Bob? Shouldn't I support a woman in politics? Sure, but what Kristina has proved over the past few episodes is that she's not cut out for politics — sorry, Mayor Kristina die-hards.

Frankly, I'm tired of watching Adam pretend to be supportive when he seems to know that Kristina doesn't have what it takes. Yes, she's got the heart: she really, truly cares about education. She's passionate. But when tasked with elementary political staples — debate, dirty laundry, and exploitation of her familial assets — Kristina stumbles. She resists at every turn. But when she finally does see an avenue that makes her comfortable with using Max as a campaign point (the woman with a special needs daughter at the mayoral debate), she jumps on it. The problem is that when Kristina does this and bends to her campaign manager's wishes, it doesn't feel like Kristina is actually the one doing it.

Rather than the campaign bringing out her inner fighter, it seems to be taking her further away from herself. She's strung along on a leash by her pushy campaign manager — not coaxed into bringing out the strengths that she already possesses. It's a story, but it's not one I want to watch.

Perhaps it's my fault for watching Scandal on the same night (thank you, DVR) and watching Olivia Pope coax her housewife candidate into darker political waters. But it's a valid difference: Olivia convinces Josie Marcus to let out her inner political animal, and from what we've seen, Kristina doesn't have one. Honestly, that's probably why leaving her out of the episode this week to make room for Julia's desire to commit adultery, Amber's success at the Luncheonette, Sarah's romantic troubles, and Zeke's ability to let Millie go to Italy yielded such positive results.

As much was we want to believe in Kristina and back her, it appears as if she doesn't even want to back herself. And while I'm not one to suggest that all women on television need to be "strong female characters" (that'd be pretty boring, after all), I would like to see a Kristina Braverman who doesn't look like she's scared of every step she takes. She wasn't that woman before, and something about this mayoral campaign is destroying those pieces of her we had come to love.

Image: NBC