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'Parenthood' react: Has Julia Braverman crossed a line?

When newly separated Julia hopped into the sack with her nephew’s teacher Mr. Knight on the April 3 episode of Parenthood, two things immediately happened. One, she split her legions of fans into two camps: those who applauded her impulsive act and those who judged — and perhaps even condemned — it. And two, well, I probably don’t have to spell out the other thing that immediately happened. Let’s just say Joel had shut her out a long time ago and leave it at that.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve struggled with which camp I fall into. Was Julia unfaithful? And if so, unfaithful to whom? To Joel, who had clearly walked away from their marriage? There’s no denying that the messy details that led to her choice make the situation complicated. Let’s break it down.

Julia was adulterous, regardless of these facts:

  • Joel moved out of their home.
  • Joel told Julia (in his typical inexpressive manner and by using a total of about six words) that he doesn’t want to work on their marriage.
  • Joel has been non-communicative and has not said much more than those six words to Julia for the past seven months, even when she begged him to seek counseling with her.
  • Mr. Knight looked hot in that black shirt/vest combo (see above).

But here’s a question: Can we use the word adultery when defining Julia’s actions? According to Dictionary.com, we sure can. Despite how you feel about Joel and how he’s treated Julia over the course of the season, they are still married. And even though the facts above might seem to excuse Julia’s hasty decision, she did, in fact, commit an act of adultery. Such an ugly word for such a pretty woman, isn’t it?

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Even though it might seem like the means justify the adulterous end, here’s where I get hung up: It was a choice. Was it a good one? I’m assuming for about 20 minutes it was, but let’s look at the bigger picture.

As Julia told Mr. Knight a few days after their “fun” romp, she got ahead of herself. She needed to “break free.” Understood. I think all of us who’ve watched the way Joel has treated her over the past few months can understand what motivated her decision. But with any choice you make, there are consequences. Does Julia think she made a mistake? At this point it doesn’t seem like it (and her sister Sarah certainly reinforced that feeling). It doesn’t seem like she has any remorse for what she did, and she’s put the incident to bed, so to speak. Do I think she should feel remorse? No, not if she’s decided to move on from their marriage. But what makes me question her choice is that I don’t believe she has. I sense that she’s still holding out hope of reconciling with Joel, and looking ahead to the finale on April 17, it appears that I may be right.

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Mr. Knight who?

I have a feeling the consequences are still to come, for both of them. At the very least, it will give them a good story line for next season (fingers crossed). Will Julia deserve the potentially devastating outcome? That’s where it gets dicey. She’s teetering on a fine line — a line made so faint by the mess of the past season that it’s hard to see. Sure, Joel pushed her away with the force of Thor, but the fact that she chose to be pushed into the bed of another man crosses that line — no matter how hot Mr. Knight looked in his vest.

Let’s hear your thoughts on this complicated situation. Do you think Julia crossed a faint or a firm line? Was her choice justified, despite the fact that she and Joel are still married? And most important, do you think Mr. Knight was worth it? Let me know what you think 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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