Parenthood Poppas

NBC’s Parenthood is an impressive comedic drama (I refuse to call anything a dramedy). The show follows the members of the Braverman family as they navigate life, love and, as you’d expect, parenthood. Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) and Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) are the parents of Adam (Peter Krause), Sarah (Lauren Graham), Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Julia (Erika Christensen). Adam and his wife Kristina (Monica Potter) have two kids with one on the way, Sarah is divorced with two teenagers, Crosby discovered in the first season that he has a son with a woman he’s been on and off with since then named Jasmine (Joy Bryant) and Julia has a daughter with her husband Joel (Sam Jaeger) but wants another. Having just finished watching tonight’s episode of the series which airs on Tuesdays at 10:00PM, I figured taking a look at the various dads on the show would make for an interesting post. A lot goes on in this show and I haven’t seen every episode, so I’m sure I’m missing a few things that have been said or revealed about the characters. This is more of a broad overview of these men and their roles as fathers as I’ve seen it on the show.

I like Zeek a lot. He reminds me of my paternal grandfather, a kind of man’s man who knows how to have a good time, gets things done and doesn’t always let on everything that’s going on inside of him. Unlike my grandpa, though, Zeek’s never been able to focus on a career for too long (Grandpa has been a barber since his 20s). I think that reflects his Vietnam veteran side that morphed into some hippiness. Deep down Zeek’s a dreamer and, like Camille explained on tonight’s episode, he goes after whatever he wants, which happens to be an acting career at the moment. Zeek’s also got some ego to him and keeps a few too many things to himself, like his failing business early in the series, but overall, I think he’s a pretty damn good patriarch. He does what he can to help keep his family together, offering advice when needed and even when not asked for. He also knows how to encourage his kids and grandkids to follow their dreams, maybe hoping they can succeed where he hasn’t. I can relate to Zeek wanting to chase his dreams and also keep a stiff upper lip. I’ve got a lot of that in me, the desire to shoulder the brunt on my own and not always open up. I don’t come from a big family, but I appreciate how he can keep his ever growing family in check.

Zeek’s oldest is a direct result of his dad’s free wheeling nature. While Adam saw his dad kind of taking it easy and not always worrying about everything, he has become something of a control freak and married one of the same in Kristina. His is the kind of personality that’s always perplexed me. I’m more of an artistic person I guess, but he’s all business and numbers and checklists and those kinds of things. He reminds me of those guys I went to college with who had the next ten years all figured out. The problem for those kinds of people, though, is that life can throw some pretty huge wrenches into your plans. For Adam, one of the wrenches has been the discovery in the first season that their son Max has Asbergers. At first Adam wanted to just fix it and had trouble with the idea that you couldn’t just fix this problem, you had to learn and teach entirely new ways of behaving and responding to the kid. Even though I’m not as rigid as Adam, I can absolutely relate to that idea of “Let’s just fix this.” It’s been nice seeing Adam relax a little over the past few seasons, though he still has trouble dealing with things like his daughter Haddie losing her virginity and dating a former drug addict who also happens to be a black dude. I think even the most open-minded of people would have difficulty with just that transition from little girl to woman. Okay, this is making me worry, on to the next one!

Joel’s my favorite character on the show. He’s just such a nice, good guy, but there’s also a lot to relate to for me personally. My wife’s extended family is pretty big, so I can understand how it can be intimidating for him to head into the big family dinners (and I’m sure the same is true for my wife going into our large family experiences). I can also relate to the fact that his wife is the one that really brings home the bacon while he tries to do what he loves (being a carpenter) and also takes care of their daughter Sydney. I can easily see myself having tea parties with Lucy and being the one dude in the Mommy & Me group or the PTA, though I’m not sure if the PTA will be able to handle some of my views on education, nutrition or macaroni art, which are pretty out there. Joel doesn’t get nearly enough screen time as far as my wife and I are concerned.

Crosby’s the clown of the family. He’s the screw up. He’s Zeek to the extreme. As a result, he’s the one that’s always learning the most obvious lessons on the show. Actually, like everyone else on the series, he’s done his share of growing into the current third season, but it seems like he keeps making the same goof-ups. On tonight’s episode, he was supposed to talk to Adam about something regarding their sons who are now going to the same school. Instead, Crosby just spoke to his boy Jabbar and the whole thing wound up blowing up in his face. Now, I get it, he’s trying to take the easy way out. I do that myself, but watching him screw things up on a weekly basis actually lives in my head a bit and reminds me to be a little more honest with myself and others when it comes to things like this.

Basically, the fathers on Parenthood represent a wide spectrum of styles and attitudes towards raising kids. Heck, even Sarah’s ex-husband represents the kind of jack ass, loser who constantly disappoints his kids. I think you’d be hard pressed to tune into the series or check it out on DVD and not come away relating to one of these guys. I like that it shows so many different angles to something that I’m going through right now because it shows the positives and negatives all around, which is something you don’t always see on TV and movies don’t really have the time to get across in the same detail. So, basically, check out Parenthood, it’s full of goodness.

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