This week Tiffany and I review two of TV’s top dramas on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday: the returning favorite, Parenthood, and the new smash hit, Revenge.
I’ve complained once or twice about televisions depiction of family: the dopey father, shrill mothers, and bratty know-it-all children. Parenthood manages to present an image of family in several ways, none of them being the trite formula above.
The show follows the large Braverman family. Zeke (Craig T Nelson) and Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) are the parents of four grown children: Adam, Sara, Crosby, and Julia. Each of these children offer the opportunity to examine different aspects of the family dynamic.
Adam (Peter Krause), the eldest, is the responsible, successful, and happily married to his equally capable wife Kristina (Monica Potter) They have two children (as the series begins) Haddie and Max. Haddie is a fairly good teenager, but they find themselves entering new territory as their teenage daughter starts making changes that teenagers often do. To add to the madness in their home, the family discovers that their younger son, Max, has Asperger’s.
Sara (Lauren Graham), the next in line, seems to have taken the more free-spirited track in life, landing her back at home with her parents and two children, Amber, a teen who seems to be taking after her mother a little too much, and the very quiet younger brother, Drew.
Crosby (Dax Shepherd) is a small time record producer living on a houseboat, who also takes after the more free-spirited side of the family. This life results in discovering he has a five year old son, Jabbar, when a former fling comes back to town to introduce them.
Got all that?
Now with all those characters, I thought for sure as this show began that many would be flat, one-dimensional. In reality, the writers have done a solid job giving each individual depth. What constantly amazes me is how the actors are able to act in a way that convinces you that these people are actually related. Even the smallest mannerisms can be seen from parent to child. Mae Whitman (who plays Amber) in particular is a stand out in how she can be a fully developed character of her own, but at the same time echo pieces of her fictional mother throughout the show.
The stories are varied, giving everyone watching the opportunity to relate somehow. Single parenting from both a full time and part time perspective, a full time mother dealing with a desire to have a career again, a full time dad coping with taking on the duties that are generally assumed to be a mom’s, grandparents speaking up (or standing aside) on issues involving their grandchildren; chances are, you’ll see yourself in one of these characters.
One aspect that has garnered both praise and criticism is the show’s depiction of Max (Max Burkholder), a child with Asperger’s. It should be noted that the creator of the show, Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights), based the character on his son, who also has Asperger’s. A behavioral psychologist is also consulted in the writing of Max’s scenes, and other consultants are brought in for more intense ones. My experience with Asperger’s is limited to a student I had some time ago, so I couldn’t tell you how accurate the show’s depiction is, but I can tell you that it certainly feels real, and I do appreciate the writer’s attempts at an accurate portrayal.
But what do I think of the show overall? Every week, I find myself getting teary. Whether it is a situation that I can directly relate to, or one that the actors and writers craft so well I can’t help but be emotionally invested, I’m glued to the screen.
Are the storylines action-packed? Not really. But they deliver a picture of family life, parenthood in particular, with all its faults and ultimately, its beauty.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I come from a large, close family, or perhaps it is because I look forward to having a good cry with this show each week, I have to give it a GTV. A home cooked meal at a big table, surrounded by family you love.
Do you watch Parenthood? Which character do you find yourself relating to most? What situations really tug at your heart?
Don’t forget to see what Tiffany thinks of ABC’s Revenge.
Come back next week when we’ll have more TV for you!
Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag on Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.
A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:
GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech