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'Parenthood' react: Camille Braverman’s complicated mid-life crisis

Over the past three seasons of Parenthood, we’ve grown to know Camille Braverman as the gentle matriarch of the family. With her soft-spoken and carefully chosen words of wisdom she can make even the most delinquent Braverman make better choices (hello, Amber).  When she decided to escape her burdensome home, her needy family, and her unmotivated husband to go on a month-long Italian painting expedition (with her mysterious-but-apparently-very-fabulous art teacher), I wasn’t only supportive of the decision, I stood up and cheered for it. Then a chain of events started that made me think our quiet mama bear had completely lost her mind and I reconsidered my enthusiasm.

As a mother to one child who is dangerously close to flying the coop and another who is quickly approaching the edge of the nest, I’ve logged a lot of parenting hours. And by “a lot,” I mean that the hours I’ve had to myself in the past 18 years compared to the hours I’ve given of myself are like King Kong sitting on one side of a teeter-totter and a flea sitting on the other —they’re that unbalanced. The point is, by this time in my life I get Camille’s motivation for wanting to get the hell out of dodge (or Berkeley) and to have some well-deserved time for herself. I understand the fact that she wanted to leave behind everything that had defined her for the past 40-plus years and try to find herself again. (Did she have to travel for an entire month and not bother to invite or stay in touch with her husband, however? Nah, that was harsh.)

I was hoping that the month in Italy would knock the hair-brained idea of selling the family home out of her head, so when she returned to Berkeley and her melancholy behavior prompted Zeek to give in and put it on the market, I got angry. I’ll admit, I reacted like Crosby did when he first heard the news. Selfishly, I am obsessed with the Braverman house, and the thought of not seeing it every week makes me want to throw myself on the floor or channel my inner Sydney and stomp up to my room.

But it’s complicated: As a mother, and as someone who threatens to pull up stakes and have the moving van loaded the morning after my youngest child graduates, I totally understand the desire to start fresh and have new adventures. As a daughter and as someone who moved around during her childhood more than she stayed put, I fully sympathize with the Braverman siblings who are resisting the idea of losing such a big, stable, permanent part of their childhood. As a viewer and as someone who loves that house, I want to stand up and yell, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WOMAN, ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?”

Sure, Camille has every right to live her life for herself but not at the expense of everyone else’s happiness. Crosby’s initial reaction was to call her decision “selfish” (and her outraged — and very uncharacteristic — reaction gave us a glimpse into what her parenting style must have been like when he was a boy. Yikes). But there’s actually a bit of truth to his distinction. Is Camille being selfish by wanting to do what makes her happy? Not at all; but making blanket decisions that affect the entire family before talking to them about it is selfish. At this point in her life she certainly doesn’t need the rest of the family’s permission to sell the house (although respecting her husband’s feelings might have been nice), but the fact that she just dropped the bomb on everyone without respect or sensitivity to their feelings was a bit callous. Sarah had to find out from Jasmine’s mom in the middle of Aida’s christening dinner, for crying out loud. Awkward.

Judging from the fact that the March 20 episode is entitled “The Offer,” it doesn’t look good for the fate of casa Braverman. In the preview, Zeek, who has been stoic and surprisingly supportive of Camille’s sudden dictatorship regarding the decision, looks shocked that it’s gotten this far. I honestly think he thought she’d change her mind or that she was just going through a mid-life crisis. Maybe he can just fix her up a nice 1970 Corvette instead?

The bottom line is this: Camille’s feelings should be respected, but she needs to start respecting those of her family as well.

Where do you think is the middle ground? Tell me in the comments below!

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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