'Parenthood's Tensions Rise

The thing about Parenthood is that it's just about normal people and their normal-people problems, but it stresses us out as if it's about someone walking on a high-wire above a tank of sharks, or someone trying to diffuse a bomb. It also soothes our ravaged souls with lovable family fun times — but families aren't always fun, and Parenthood does a pretty damn good job at depicting both the good and the bad of family dynamics. This week's "The Ring" was an excellent showcase of that.

Let's go through this in family segments, shall we?

Amber and Ryan

These two — or, rather, Amber — have been at the forefront of the season, due to their decision to Marry Young. Their angst this episode revolved around Ryan splurging all his money on a truly gigantic engagement ring for Amber, and Amber feeling like it was way too much money. She talks to Kristina about it and shoots down the notion that "maybe this is about more than the ring" (boo you know it is), then talks to Ryan, who pretends to take it well, but is really just a little more dead inside. Everyone leaves just a little sadder than when they started.


This storyline revolved around Jabbar choosing ballet as his extracurricular activity over basketball, and Crosby's dissatisfaction (*cough*misogyny*cough*) with that. It was an interesting spotlight on one of the issues the show has to work on but doesn't seem to realize, which is its raging heteronormativity. Crosby seems pretty hung up on the masculinity of his son (or, to be more forgiving about it, about him and his son having everything in common). There were also numerous casual mentions that indicated something we already knew about this show, which is the assumption that all of the children of all of these people are going to end up straight.

The best part about this storyline is that Crosby's not painted as in the right about it, and we get a sweet moment at the end of the episode of him going to watch one of the ballet classes.

Zeek and Camille

Pretty simple: Camille's in Italy, Zeek is running around the house playing with chainsaws and eating ice cream in his underwear. Old people.


Sarah should probably hook up with her hot fortysomething tenant soon, or else I will. He seems interested in her, and even if that's (somehow) just in a platonic way, I hope it's explored more, because that party he threw seemed like the kind of place Sarah needs to be right now. Girl can't spend all her time sitting in her apartment contemplating her daughter's marriage.

Kristina and Adam

Bob Little makes the mayoral campaign skew negative just as Kristina's nearing him in the polls. This is kind of a horrifically dumb move, considering Kristina literally walked in on Bob Little on top of her 19-year-old niece two seasons ago, but Bob Little is questionable overall. Luckily for him, Kristina has the ethics of an Arthurian knight, but we have to admit we were kinda rooting for her to spill the beans to the public (Amber herself even asked her to!) and watch the shit hit the fan.

Julia and Joel

Oh god, these two. Every week, we flash back to that beautiful scene in Season 1 in which Joel cried and told Julia he would never, ever cheat on her. They're so cute sometimes, but right now they are at once quietly and overtly resenting each other, and the bad vibes are STRESSING ME THE FUCK OUT.

They found out this week that they have to hold Victor back a grade in the middle of the school year, but Joel's being stubborn and Julia's being sad and poor Victor's been working so hard and Sydney can tell her parents' marriage is in trouble and EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE. Dear god, if these two kids (and their kids) do not find a way to end this season with some romance and some family fun times, I am going to scream (more likely cry).

That hug between Julia and Ed? VERY worrisome. Especially worrisome? Kiiiind of rooting for them to spend more time together because that was the most genuine moment Julia's been able to connect with in a while.


So what will happen next week on Parenthood? Will Ryan actually say his true feelings out loud for once? Will Amber voice her buried doubts over making a lifetime commitment at 21? Will Joel and Julia maybe smile at each other with genuine happiness/love for the first time in months? Will Sarah get some?

Also, next week is Election Day, which means we'll find out if Kristina's kicking Bob Little's butt in that election or if it's back to the drawing board.

Images: NBC