EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

'Parenthood' react: Cracking down on Kristina Braverman

Many of us superfans of Parenthood consider ourselves part of the Braverman family. And much like a real family—while we love them—they sometimes do some maddening things. Over the past five and a half seasons there have been more than a few times where this has been the case: Crosby sleeping with Max’s behavioral aide, Amber getting involved with Bob Little (gak), Zeek and Camille selling the family home, and Sarah telling the perfect Dr. Carl she couldn’t go to Africa because she needed to work on being by herself (I’m never, ever going to let that one go).

Lately, our fury has been focused on golden girl Kristina. More specifically, the way Kristina has handled—or not handled—Max’s behavior as of late. And while it’s certainly true that Adam isn’t an innocent player in the enabling of their son’s out-of-control behavior choices, fans’ criticisms (and this article) are focused on Kristina. Because not only is she doing Max a disservice as his parent, but as headmaster of Chambers Academy she is doing a disservice to all the students by ignoring it.

Before I get too far into this, let me offer a disclaimer of sorts. While I definitely do not think it’s acceptable to judge other people’s parenting skills, I don’t have a problem criticizing their lack of them. And the way we’ve seen Kristina ignore Max’s outrageous behavior over the past few weeks is an open invitation for opinion that I gladly accept.

For the record, I’ve always been a big fan of Kristina’s. I know that over the years there have been times when she’s been annoying to some, but other than that whole “send your daughter off to college and then forget she ever existed” thing, I’ve never had a problem with her. I’ve always found her to be positive and upbeat, loving and fully committed to her family, funny, and a bit quirky—not to mention having a head of hair I’d kill for (except for that awful cone-headed bald cap they had her wear in season 4, obviously). Sure, she’s gone easy on Max a lot and ignored or excused many of his rants and inappropriateness through the years, but I’ve always looked at it like this: until you’ve walked in the shoes of a parent who has a child with Asperger’s syndrome, you are in no position to judge.

Until now.

Let’s talk about Dylan, shall we? Because the way Max reacted to his first crush’s rejection was pure harassment. And when you toss in the way he treated the boy he discovered Dylan did like, we can add bullying to the list of Max’s offenses. Listen, I get it; Max has Asperger’s and cannot control his impulses and doesn’t always understand conforming to social norms. I’m sympathetic to his challenges and even more so to the ones that Kristina and Adam face as they try to help him navigate a world in which he has difficulty fitting in. Over the past several seasons, it’s been easy to applaud the loving and understanding ways they’ve nurtured Max and always supported him in spite of his frustrations. (Remember the scene after he told them the boy peed in his canteen? Oy.) Have they given in to him more than they should have and been too quick to excuse his outrageous behavior because of his Asperger’s? No question—yes. But other than the time he was supremely rude to his new, wheelchair-bound friend, I’ve overlooked it. Again, not gonna even try to walk in their shoes.

But when Max picked a fight with Aaron Brownstein (Dylan’s new crush), when he made and distributed fliers around Chambers Academy insulting and attacking the boy, when he badgered Dylan in public with his poster that declared his affection for her (a “5” on the scale, remember) and loudly and vehemently continued to demand a response from her in front of the entire school, Kristina did nothing more than congratulate him. She chased him outside where he’d run in shame and gave him one of her famous “buddy” speeches—calm and measured in cadence and tone—about how proud she was of him for “putting himself out there.” PUTTING HIMSELF OUT THERE? Is that what we’re calling physical violence, bullying, and harassment nowadays? Asperger’s or not, her handling of that situation (or nonhandling) was disappointing.

It wasn’t surprising, then, when a few days later he once again harassed Dylan, who was clearly distressed (yet appeared more frightened than annoyed) and ended up grabbing her in frustration when she wouldn’t give him the answer he wanted about why she didn’t like him. He’d never been told that his behavior was unacceptable, just that it was “brave.” Yet once again, with Dylan and her parents now objecting, Kristina (and this time Adam as well) brushed Max’s behavior off as being a misunderstanding and sarcastically apologized for Dylan being “uncomfortable.” Um, pretty sure anyone who’s being attacked both physically and verbally is a bit more than uncomfortable. Especially when she’s in her own school and the one person who is supposed to protect her is looking the other way.

Because let’s not forget, Kristina is now more than just Max’s mother; she’s the headmaster of a school she created for Max so he could flourish and thrive the way his public school wasn’t allowing him to. Yet, ironically, he isn’t any different than he was in years past. Maybe he’s even worse. Kristina isn’t just hindering Max by overprotecting him and making excuses for him, she’s doing a great disservice to all the kids she is supposed to be looking out for. (Side note: Where are all the teachers? But really.) The conflict of interest in this situation is outrageous. She’s walking (and crossing) a dangerous line by putting Max’s interests ahead of the other students’.

Again, I don’t know anything about parenting a child with Asperger’s, and I don’t want to presume that there is one way to do it correctly (or if there even is a way to do it correctly), but I can’t imagine that excusing the kinds of behavior Max has demonstrated without firm consequences is acceptable. It isn’t Max I condemn here, it’s Kristina (which is tough for me to admit).

I don’t know about you, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed she buckles down and that she and Adam make some big changes in the way they handle Max’s growing pains. Either that or get a new headmaster. I vote for Dr. Carl.

Who else thinks it’s time to crack down on Kristina Braverman?

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

You May Like