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'Parenthood' recap: The new normal

Season 5 | Ep. 15 | “Just Like at Home” | Aired Feb 27, 2014

When Parenthood aired after an Olympic-size five-week hiatus, it seemed like some of our friends in Berkeley had speed-skated ahead with their lives — and some were still stuck right where we left them in January.

Leading us to believe that co-parenting is suddenly the new normal, Joel (Sam Jaeger) and Julia (Erika Christensen) play their first game of pass-the-children with little fanfare. Julia has even set the kids up with his-and-hers suitcases. It’s all very uneventful and unemotional for such a fresh split, and it doesn’t ring true. No typical tantrum from Sydney (Savannah Paige Rae)? No sullen look from Victor (Xolo Mariduena)? Who are these kids? I mean, I like them, but who are they?

Joel has already tricked out his new digs with the basic necessities: Xbox, 3-D television set, video games, a Rainbow Loom for Sydney (who reacts with an eye roll and an expected, “I don’t play with that anymore; I’m 10” — aaaand she’s back). There’s even a pool. No swimsuits? No worries! Dad bought new ones! The kids cheer! And just when we are led to think this new arrangement is working out swell and everyone’s instantly happy with split-family living, Joel’s dejected, drained face tells us he’s sad. Sad that Julia did the unthinkable and quit her job to become a stay-at-home mom; sad that Victor was held back in school; sad that Julia struck up an inappropriate friendship with another man; and sad that he wouldn’t take the time to maybe talk to her about any of it or listen to her feelings and share his own in an attempt to save their marriage. My head is still spinning at the complete 180 Joel’s character has done this season. He went from basically the nicest (albeit a bit vanilla), most supportive guy on the planet to this jerk who is uncommunicative and cold in the blink of an eye. Did Julia make mistakes? Sure. But Joel gave up on her and their family way too easily.

Over at Cal Berkeley, Amy (Skyler Day) is still bunking with Drew (Miles Heizer), and as much as he still loves her, she’s really starting to cramp his style. With Amy hanging around, Drew is no longer available for booty calls from naughty Natalie (Lyndon Smith). This calls for a heart-to-heart with sister-therapist Amber (Mae Whitman), who tells him, “You can really love somebody, but also want to let them go.” Sounds like someone’s suddenly wiser from Ryan’s (Matt Lauria) abrupt and painful exit. I hope the writers keep developing Drew. It’s good to see him actually communicate. With words. Now if we could just get him to laugh. Out loud.

Later in the episode, when he finally takes Amy home and encourages her to talk to her parents about everything — the abortion, leaving Tufts — their hug and Amy’s sad little goodbye seem very final. Closure: It’s a good thing.

Hank (Ray Romano) and Sarah (Lauren Graham) are still butting heads over the creative control and direction of the Surf Sport campaign, so Hank turns to Dr. Pelikan (Tom Amandes) for help with his communication skills. It’s clear Hank still has feelings for Sarah, and since he’s starting to accept the fact that he has Asperger’s, it’s admirable that he’s seeking help on how to have more successful relationships. But I still don’t want to see him with Sarah. You know why? Two words: Dr. Carl (Josh Stamberg). Sigh. Dr. Carl tells Sarah over tacos and beer that he likes her, and that he may be falling for her. Sure, I’m sympathetic for Hank, but after watching the fabulous Carl profess his feelings, I was rooting for them to ditch the tacos and go back to his place for “dessert.” Team Carl for the win.

Crosby (Dax Shepard) and family are still living with Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) and Camille (Bonnie Bedilia), and when Crosby discovers that the family home is on the market, it turns him into a petulant 11-year-old. When Zeek tells him that he loves Camille more than he loves the house and will do whatever he has to do tomake her happy, you can almost see future Crosby tinkering with an old Mustang in that same garage. Selfishly, I hope they don’t sell. And even though it seems like we’re being led to believe that if they do, Crosby and family will be the next occupants, I don’t want to see that happen. I love that house. I love Zeek and Camille in that happy house. I don’t want Jasmine’s (Joy Bryant) pissy faces and negative energy to infect it like the very mold that’s caused them to be homeless.

Meanwhile, dinners of the “Olivia Pope Special” (popcorn and wine) and nights of sleeping in Sydney’s bed are making Julia blue, but over at Super Dad’s, it’s a friggin’ party. Joel orders “the best pizza ever!” — and tomorrow it’s robot movies and mini-golf! Victor is psyched! Sydney, as usual, is not. Waa-waaaaaa.

Julia is about to microwave her SmartOnes when, one by one, the Braverman siblings show up bearing wine, takeout and plenty of sarcasm to cheer her up. They once again make me ugly-cry with their fierce devotion to one another. They even end up having one of their epic Braverman dance parties (reason No.143 I want to be a Braverman).

Later that night Victor has a nightmare and calls Julia, who, despite having consumed the better part of three bottles of wine, is able to settle him down by telling him a childhood story (coherently!), while walking around the house pulling blankets over her more intoxicated sleeping siblings. As we see Victor slumbering peacefully with the phone next to his head, and Julia lies down on the couch next to Adam (Peter Krause), we are led to believe that this might just be the new normal. And that everything just might be OK.


TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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