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'Parenthood' nostalgia recap: Cruel intentions

Season 1 | Episode 8 | “Rubber Band Ball” | Aired Apr 20, 2010

The eighth episode of Parenthood might have been officially titled “Rubber Band Ball,” but while there is, indeed, a rubber band ball that plays an important role, the final scene makes the title I gave it seem much more fitting. Why? Because Jasmine—and despite the good she’s convinced herself her decisions (and intentions) were, are nothing but cruel in my book. Let me explain.

Everyone knows that Jasmine has kept Jabbar’s existence from Crosby for five years, and yet for some reason no one has called her out on it. Even Crosby just smiled in wonderment when presented with his instant child back in episode one, practically thanking Jasmine for the gift of his new son. And the Bravermans acted similarly. It’s infuriating. Learning her reason for the secrecy, which we do in episode eight, is even more aggravating.

While helping plan Jabbar’s birthday party (at his insistence, BTW, since Jasmine had only sent him an invitation), Crosby makes it clear to Jasmine that he wants to be involved in his son’s life and not just relegated to being a bystander. He wants to do things a father does, including inviting the entire Braverman clan to the party. Jasmine balks. It seems that her entire family (which rivals Team B in number of members) aren’t fans of Crosby. Why? Because she told them Crosby abandoned her when he found out she was pregnant. Seems it was easier than the truth, which was that Crosby just didn’t return her calls after their hook-up, and that she gave up after a few tries. Yeah, go with abandonment.

With Jasmine’s family giving off a definitely chilly vibe to Crosby, Zeek is confused. “Are you treating him like that because he’s white?” he asks, with typical Zeek candor. As you might expect, all hell breaks loose, but before Julia begins reciting the “I Have a Dream” speech, Jasmine ‘fesses up and tells her family the truth about Crosby: That he is a decent guy who did not abandon her and who never even knew about Jabbar. (The fact that he was a playah who didn’t return her calls after banging her is an entirely different issue.) Does everyone react with shock and horror when learning of Jasmine’s narcissistic, cruel decision? Nope. They hug it out and eat birthday cake.

Later, feeling a little bit mushy at the way Crosby is stepping up to the father plate and obviously thinking she’s doing a wonderfully thoughtful thing, Jasmine shows Crosby Jabbar’s birth video. You know, the moment his son came into this world that she made the unilateral decision to exclude him from? Crosby, not surprisingly, is moved to tears watching the joy and emotion radiate from Jasmine as Jabbar takes his first breaths. It’s unbelievably sweet, and indescribably cruel. Why? Because he wasn’t there, but more importantly, because he wasn’t given that choice.

If I were Crosby, watching that video would make me furious at Jasmine for her selfishness. But since the amazement on his face tells me he’s clearly not, I’ll just have to settle for being furious at Crosby for being a coward. Listen, I know that being mad at this stage in the game isn’t going to change anything and that Crosby and Jasmine need to be on the same team for Jabbar’s sake, but all I want is for Crosby to stand up for himself and for someone to acknowledge that what she did was heartless.

Moving on. We need to talk about Sydney, who is revealed to be a genius in this episode. I can think of about eight other adjectives to describe her, but that’ll need to be a different article. The little genius has been tormenting classmates with a giant rubber band ball she made; one that she knows the exact count of each color of rubber band it contains.

Julia worries that she may have Asperger’s, and runs to Kristina to ask what signs she should be looking for. After telling her not to worry (but giving Julia Dr. Pelikan’s number, anyway), Kristina and Adam gleefully imagine a world where Max isn’t the only Braverman who is different. When Julia later conveys Dr. P’s diagnosis of “gifted,” Kristina is outwardly relieved, but later she and Adam dish on the brilliant little princess behind closed doors, and I’ve never loved them more.

Damien, Amber’s bad-seed boyfriend from Fresno, is still lurking around (Sarah catches them together in the shower!), and after Zeek tries to scare him off (see below), Millie sweetly but firmly advises Sarah to just let Amber live her life. And when Sarah takes Millie’s advice and pulls back from Amber, Amber pulls back from Damien (but makes sure Sarah knows it “had absolutely nothing to do with you”).

Zeek’s zingers:

To Damien, after Sarah caught him in the shower with Amber: “You left your sock in my house when you took my granddaughter’s innocence.”

After Damien tells Zeek he’s a philosopher, Zeek tells him something about himself: “I am an irrational hard ass with rage issues. Don’t piss me off.”

What do you think of the choices Jasmine made? Should Crosby be more upset that he was robbed of the first five years of his son’s life, or should he channel his inner Elsa?

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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