Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Parenthood - My Thoughts on the Bravermans, Part Deux

Okay, so now that we've covered the immediate family, let's move on to their significant others (when I started this post, I was going to cover the kids and other side characters, too, but then I said so much about Kristina - and considering that Sarah has so many men - I figured that we better stick to S.O. only).

Let's just go family by family, shall we? And let me also say that as much as I may have to say about all of these characters, I would LOVE to have siblings half as involved as the Bravermans!

So, Adam (BLECH!) is married to Kristina.

 Kristina Braverman
Photo Image from nbc.com
Kristina Braverman will not be deterred. There are things I love about her and things that drive me nuts. Let's start with the positive - she can pull off any hairstyle (lucky women with strong jaws!). Monica Potter is a phenomenal dramatic actress. She deserves the credit she gets and she definitely deserved the Golden Globe nomination she received for her amazing performance in season 4 (the video she makes and Adam watches is so heart wrenching!). I have cried more tears during scenes with Kristina than possibly any other character on the show. She's a powerful actress.

Kristina is determined, feisty, spunky, headstrong, compassionate, driven, and very committed to her family. She's an impressive lady. While I do think that some of her solutions are ridiculously over the top (starting a charter school? Really? I've seen multiple articles saying why that's a ridiculous and unrealistic solution.), you have to hand it to her - she WILL go after whatever she wants. And that's admirable. (Side note: I think they should play to Max's strengths, and get away from the stupid frustrations with the school system that isn't serving him well, and homeschool. I see parents do it all the time. The kid is 15 already - he's doing his school work just fine - he's right that he's smarter than his teachers - and he's learning life and career skills like photography and body surfing. He can learn more from that than from being forced to be like everyone else in a system that is failing him. Buck the system! He's thriving elsewhere - do more of that! That has way more to do with real life skills than anything he could learn in school.)

But man, oh man. Her affect! GAH! It is SO flat! Listening to a conversation between her and her daughter is enough to make me wish for a soundtrack of sharp nails on a very old chalkboard. She is so monotone! And, like, she, like, often sounds, like, you know, so, like, whiny and annoying. It takes her forever to say nothing. Spit it out, lady! Of course it doesn't help that the second she starts to express herself or say anything, her dumb-butt husband interrupts and rants and gesticulates and yells and tells her why he doesn't support her (until, you know, he eventually does).

She does NOT take no for an answer and I often cringe when I see how pushy she can be, but I have to hand it to her - she has chutzpah out the wazoo! When she pushed for Max to get invited to a birthday party - ugh, that was painful! Oh! And she butts in where she doesn't belong AT ALL. Like when she barged in on the politician and Amber - so not any of her business! I kept thinking, "Isn't Amber over 18?!?" While it wasn't the best choice on Amber's part (then again, what is? Have you SEEN the finale yet??), it was completely NOT her place to do what she did. Yeah, yeah, she's a caring aunt looking out for her niece, but she really crossed a line there. (In her defense, she was probably having PTSD from the lousy way she found out her daughter was sexually active).

See? The writers are so genius at writing flawed characters! That's why we all feel so passionate about this show - they're so good at making us mad, happy, angry, frustrated, excited, you name it. It's brilliant!

I think Adam and Kristina do care about their kids, but they seem to care more about control and being in charge and laying down the law than they do about being nurturing or respectful or considering their kids' feelings on things. It's maddening. I do see some personal growth, though, particularly in the season finale with how they treated Haddie. It's about freaking time, too. One of the WORST things they ever did as parents was to lie to Haddie about her mother's health just to get her to go back to school. So INCREDIBLY disrespectful. Again, they mean well, but it comes out all wrong and they go about it with dishonesty and their usual we're-right-everyone-else-must-bow-to-us attitude. That's why they often engage in power struggles and fighting matches with their kids. Rather than trying to understand their children and listen to them and hear them and understand and respect their feelings, they exert their authority and demand to be obeyed. So much for mutual respect! No wonder the kids sometimes disrespect them. They model it so well! Blech.

I felt bad for Kristina when her mom wouldn't show up to help her. That was so sad. I'm always curious about the in-laws' families!

I'll end on a positive note - I love that Kristina goes after what she wants in life and that she thinks outside the box. Mad respect for that. Also? I totally love the scene where Adam goes and gets her pot to help ease her suffering. That was a loving act and that whole scene was so great. They have their moments.

Seth Holt

Photo Image from tvrage.com

Sarah's ex - an absent dad, an alcoholic rocker, and a drifter. Yeah, mystery why Sarah's back with her parents. I like John Corbett and he plays a good character on here - very flawed. But again, it allows them to tackle such big issues that I'm sure many in the world can relate to. 

I do have to say, though, that the episode where Amber just happens to drive off to who knows where and just happens to enter the place of his employment (and yeah, right - a recovering alcoholic working at a bar) and just happens to see him . . . way too difficult to believe. Seemed very forced and strange. She has resisted him for so long and suddenly he's there and she's cool with him making her pancakes? Weird. 

Love Triangle #1

Photo Image from tvline.com

And the season where he shows up again, promising to change (so difficult to know if you can believe someone with such a strong chemical dependency)? That really helped showcase Sarah's codependence toward him. She nearly jeopardized a very good thing in her life due to that (no worries - she managed to mess it up for other reasons later). She was torn between the love she felt for a man with whom she has a history (and children) and a new good thing in her life. And that good thing was . . . 

Mr. Mark Cyr

Photo Image from goldderby.com

Isn't he adorable? Played by the charming Jason Ritter (son of the late John Ritter), he plays a GOOD guy who is smart and sweet and patient and kind and good. I like him. He tries hard. He sets boundaries with kindness. He is a really good communicator (so, of course, Sarah can't handle that - why does she keep self-sabotaging good things in her life?) and he's so good to Sarah and her kids. 

Not sure I have a ton to say about him, but you can't help but root for him, if not with Sarah, then with someone who deserves his goodness. 

But wait!
Love Triangle #2

Photo Image from tvguide.com
These kinds of love triangles are delicious, because they're between two GOOD guys. And that's how life can be for people sometimes, right? Choosing between two GOOD things and trying to do what's best for everyone, especially oneself? That brings us to . . . 

Hank Rizzoli

Photo Image from televisionaryblog.com
I love this guy! Who knew Raymond could be so cool?!? He plays a GREAT dramatic role. He's endearing - he tries so hard and means well and just can't seem to get it quite right, which makes him all the more loveable. Some people don't like him and find him boring, but I love Hank. I love his emergency calls to Dr. Pelican. I love his slowly-dawning self awareness. I love his bluntness. I love, love, love his relationship with Max. I love how he works so hard to navigate relationships and life. I love Hank. 

Love Triangle #3
(What, you're getting tired of it, too? Join the club.)
introduces this weird distraction

Carl Fletcher
(Dr. Carl Fletcher, no less) 

Photo Image from tvguide.com

I have very little to say about this abrupt subplot. He's a playboy that she can't stand! Oh wait, he's a life-saving doctor who does overseas charity work?!? Pfft.

So yeah, Sarah's a hot mess. But for so long, Julia had it all together with Joel. 

Joel Graham

Photo image from someone's Pinterest
Yep, Pinterest. The place where people pin pretty things. Like Sam Jaeger. Julia's (until recently) devoted husband. Joel, the hot-carpenter-stay-at-home dad. Joel, the family man. Joel, the really good guy. Joel, the superman. Oh Joel, what happened?!?

This past season has been some kind of anomaly. Some kind of horrible aberration. Joel is a GOOD guy. A family man. He puts his family first, always! I don't understand where the storyline took a reallly bad turn. I really don't. It was all so abrupt. I found myself thinking, what did it? Was it the infertility? The adoption (I love that scene!)? Her screw up at work? His going back to work? An asteroid hitting him in the head? What happened?!?!??!?!?

I love Joel. And I think it will eventually all work out. I don't think it's unrealistic that they had problems, but I think the lead-up to a split was completely out of left field. And I'm very pissed about the hypocrisy. He's mad that she kissed another guy. HELLO!! Joel kissed another woman in season 1 and yet, no one is talking about that!! Why not?!? I think that would resolve their situation, too. Someone bring it up! They both screwed up. Forgive. Move on. How could he fight so hard for Victor and then just up and leave? It makes no sense. This is a story line I am NOT liking. It's just out of nowhere. Joel is a great in-law, the best one in fact. Bring that guy back, please. 

THIS guy.

Photo Image from tvlistings.zap2it.com
In earlier seasons, he's great with his kids (even though his daughter is a colossal brat), he loves his wife, and he is great with the extended family he married into. He sets boundaries with his in-laws. He is supportive. He is patient. He is GOOD. (And, he really is Pinterest worthy). :P

That leaves Crosby's significant other, the lovely Jasmine. 

Jasmine Trussell

Photo Image from fanpop.com
Jasmine is beautiful. SO beautiful. She is a strong personality, raised by a strong mother in a strong family. She can be controlling and irritating and kind of a diva and queen bee type. I think Crosby helps bring out a better side of her. She's with the Braverman who, while not perfect, has the BEST lines and best personality. 

I was so mad at her for lying to her family about Crosby and his supposed abandonment of Jabbar. And I love, love, love the evolution of that relationship (Crosby and Jabbar) and how it made Crosby grow so so much. The ups and downs with them were quite a roller coaster for several seasons. I was happy when the campout turned into their reconciliation. He screwed up, yes, but she'd be a fool to walk away from him. At his core, he's a good guy and he loves the hell out of his family. 

Okay, whoops. So that turned into another Crosby-love post instead of being about Jasmine, but I'm not sure what else to say about her. There was a time I really didn't like her. She can be kind of selfish and want everything her way and be dismissive of Crosby, but I'm glad to see them grow together and work it out. 

Next installment will include kids and other characters. I'd love to hear your thoughts on these partners . . . . Did I forget anyone?


Dr. Mark said...

I have to wait for a Part 3? No fair!

As is our usual, we agree on so much. I, too, admire how Kristina just goes after whatever she wants. I'm not a fan of how unrealistic her story lines at times, but you are right--she is such a great actress. My tear ducts get serious work with her scenes! And either the casting director did an incredible job finding two actresses with such flat affects that you believe they are mother and daughter, or the writers are fantastic at creating that mother-daughter similarity between Kristina and Haddie.

"I think Adam and Kristina do care about their kids, but they seem to care more about control and being in charge and laying down the law than they do about being nurturing or respectful or considering their kids' feelings on things."

Yes. That.

And YES! Not telling Haddie what was going on with Kristina's health? So not cool. I thought Kristina was going to stand up for herself on this one but she just lied along with her husband. (I'll avoid labeling him since you've already got some serious anti-Adam sentiment bleeding over from Part 1.)

Seth. I like how they tried to make him become a decent guy, but also showed how so not good for Sarah is was and still is.

Mark. I like him a lot. The age difference never bothered me one bit. Who cares? But I also thought highlighting how this difference could affect a relationship going forward (different ages/different stages) was an example of the great writing they have on this show.

Hank. I mentioned this in my comment on Part 1, but I love Ray Romano's character here. He's a lot like his character in "Everybody Loves Raymond," but with less obvious humor. I really like seeing his growth throughout the series, too.

That doctor dude.

Joel. I could probably write an entire post about Joel and the crazy roller coaster the writers have sent him on. I like him a lot, and in many ways think he's the one non-Braverman that is the most normal and good for the family at large. While I think the issues they are tackling in his relationship with Julia are real and common enough to explore, they really went too far too quickly. I feel like their marriage went from great to experiencing difficulties to one gigantic, colossal mess in way too short a time. Hopefully they're going to fix this thing because I really like Joel when he's with his family, being the good guy that he really is.

(I'll save my comments on the bratty Graham daughter for when you actually talk about the children.)

Jasmine. I'm with you. I'm not sure that I like her or dislike her. Mostly I respond to how she's acting with Crosby and her family. I can respect that she is often the realist that balances the naive side of Crosby. I did NOT like how she lied to her family about him and then let him squirm for a bit. Not cool. In the season finale last week I only remember her appearing in the background toward the end, as if to remind us that Crosby is married. That's sort of how she is for me--oh, there she is. That's right. Crosby married that girl.

I'm so glad you did Part Deux. No pressure for Part 3, but when are you going to write that? ;)

(Hopefully all of these comments make sense. I'm not feeling the greatest, but after "hounding" you for this post it just wouldn't be right not to comment on it.)

Emily Foley said...

I haven't watched the finale yet but I'm kind of bugged that haddie's in it at all, let alone such a major storyline. If we had seen her face even once in the entire season it might be believeable but all of a sudden she's back with this life changing thing? In a family as controlling as the bravermans? I don't buy it. I'll let you know what I honk after I watch it.

Sometimes I feel like Christina has nothing to say so she just jabbers. Annoying.

I liked the doctor and thought it was weird that Sarah had to break up with him. Why couldn't he go to Africa and then keep dating her when he came back? He was nice! That seemed weird to me. She's the worst with men, worst!

I like Jasmine too but I kind of hate her mom. I think sometimes Crosby gets steamrolled by her (jasmine and the mom) and it's not fair.

Emily Foley said...

Um, think, not honk.

Dave said...

Hank is my favorite. He brings some balance to the show. Sorry, I will never be a Braverman, but I can try harder to be involved.

Boquinha said...

LOL, Mark. You don't want me to get anything else done, do you? :P

Agreed about Kristina-Haddie. Uncanny!

Good point about Mark Cyr.

"he's the one non-Braverman that is the most normal and good for the family at large."


"oh, there she is. That's right. Crosby married that girl."

Yep. I suppose that's the challenge of a big, ensemble cast. You can't exactly follow a million story lines at once.

Oh Emily, watch the finale!! As for Haddie, people online really like her for some reason (?????) and have been complaining that she's not on the show enough. She hasn't been listed in the opening credits for some time and she took a role on another show, so she only shows up now and then, now that her character is away at college across the country.

It's remarkable, though, isn't it, that her parents would be so controlling and rigid and then not know anything about what she's up to (actually, I think it makes sense!). It's that stupid mentality, too, that espouses the done-being-parents-when-the-kida-are-18 philosophy.

"Sure, Haddie, your mom's not sick at all. All better! You can go back to college now!"

"Sure, mom and dad, I'm straight. No worries! You can go back to sticking your heads in the sand and feeling like you know me at all!"

I agree about the abruptness of the doctor storyline. They painted it like an either-or thing: her going off with him meant putting off her big photography project and they highlighted (through Hank, was it?) how often she lets a man get in the way of her life and goals and successes. So she didn't go and she cut him off. Seemed drastic to me, too. And risky. Remember when she told Mark that she was going to try to make it work with Hank only to find that Hank was moving to Minnesota? COMMUNICATE, Sarah! TALK. Why didn't she talk more with Hank before making such a declaration??

Oh, I forgot about Billy Baldwin! Another doomed Sarah romance.

Oh yeah, Jasmine's mom is a piece of work. She'll be in part 3.

Dave, it's funny you say that, because at dinner yesterday, we were discussing siblings (no lie!) and we had all good things to say about you. Mark and I both agree that you and Emily are very, very genuine.

Boquinha said...

One more thought on Haddie and her life-changing news (SPOILER ALERT - don't read until you've watched) . . . given the level of bigotry that still exists in this country and given the fact that her parents, though from progressive Berkeley, are not generally approachable about ANYthing (they often come around, but their first reaction tends to be angry and volatile), I think it is very believable that she hadn't told them yet. It's not like she'd just mention something so big on the phone or come out on Facebook, you know? The way they handled it was very sweet, I think. It showed them taking it all in and being more open than I would've guessed. I'm not surprised that they were ultimately accepting - like I said, they generally come around, just not usually without a fight. Hey, personal growth! :P

Anonymous said...

I wish I could comment on this with something insightful, because you've obviously put a lot of work into this post series, buuuuut... I haven't actually watched this yet.

Boquinha said...

It's a good series. Though I must say, I totally prefer Gilmore Girls, hands down. I recommend that one first. :) It's replete with so many literature and music and movie references!

The Magic Violinist said...

Monica Potter is a fantastic actress. But, pushy, yes! Oh my God, I cringed so much when she kept asking that mom from Max's school why he wasn't invited to the birthday party. (Ha, I wrote this before I even read what you said about it.)

Lieing to Haddie: NO NO NO! Um, I don't care how much you want her to go back to college and continue with her life, she's an adult and she can make her own decisions. And it's her MOM for crying out loud. She deserves to know exactly what's going on.

*facepalm* Sarah helping Seth get better was sweet, but also totally naiive. I wouldn't have trusted him to suddenly change after so many screw ups.

Hank's "emergency" calls to Dr. Pelican. YES. XD

Again, Carl's character seems very random to me.

Joel and Mr. Cyr are really cute. :)

I don't really like Jasmine that much. As much as I wanted Crosby and Jasmine to get back together after the whole Crosby/Gaby fiasco, it was mostly for Jabbar's sake. I felt so bad for him. He and Crosby had just started to bond, and then Crosby had to screw it up. Blah. Anyway, I think Jasmine is good for Crosby because she helped him to mature, and the scenes with the two of them are usually really funny, but in general, I think she's dramatic. And she doesn't stand up for herself when her mom's around.