This week’s “Parenthood” features one Braverman striving to do the right thing in a complex, emotionally delicate situation, and the rest of the Bravermans achieving new personal bests in the field of self-absorption. This episode should have been called “First World Problems,” but it’s actual title is “Forced Family Fun.”
Sarah (Lauren Graham), the only Braverman with real issues, is torn between her loyalty to Seth (John Corbett) and her new relationship with Mark (Jason Ritter). She visits Seth in rehab. In classic addict fashion, he tells her he is only sticking it out for her. She eats it up. Her codependent streak makes sense. There’s no other reason why she would have stayed with him for so long. Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) thinks she needs to set boundaries with Seth. He even gets Adam (Peter Krause) to talk to her about it. Sarah rightfully points out that she is an adult who can make her own decisions. However, they are bad decisions. Sarah cancels a date with hot, young, smart, employed, functional Mark to attend a counseling session with Seth. Mark mans up and tells Sarah that he is not going to stick around if she keeps choosing Seth over him. At the session, Seth whines that his kids aren’t sending him cards like his roommate. He claims he wishes he had gone to rehab the first time Sarah asked him to, when Amber (Mae Whitman) was a kid, because maybe they’d still be a family. The question is why Sarah stuck around after he refused.
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Sarah returns to the luxurious rehab facility with old family pictures. Seth invites her to stay and watch “Vertigo” with him. She does the right thing and leaves to spend the evening with Mark. He asks if he needs to worry about her relationship with Seth and she assures him he does not. Then she watches “Vertigo” by herself while Seth watches it in rehab. Sarah, don’t get sucked into the drama. You can’t fix him. Damaged is not sexy!
Julia (Erika Christensen) goes full on “The Handmaid’s Tale” when she sees Zoe, the birth mother of her future adopted child, eating sushi. She reacts as though Zoe were smoking crack. She lectures Zoe about why she cannot eat a small portion of professionally prepared raw fish in response to a temporary hormonal craving. Zoe realizes that Julia now sees her body as an incubator that she owns. Julia later offers a condescending apology, bringing her food she deems appropriate and inviting her to come over for dinner for further behavioral monitoring. When Zoe shows up, it is unfortunate that she is not simultaneously smoking a cigarette, dyeing her hair, and emptying a cat’s litter box. If Zoe decides to keep this baby, I am going to have no sympathy for Julia.
The show’s biggest baby, Crosby (Dax Shepard), gets bent out of shape when he discovers that Joe the pediatrician (D.B. Woodside) has become Jasmine’s (Joy Bryant ) love doctor. He is particularly incensed that Joe is spending time with Jabbar. He whines to Jasmine that he doesn’t want to be replaced in Jabbar’s life, as if Joe spending an hour with Jabbar will ruin Crosby’s relationship with his son. When Joe fixes Jabbar’s truck — something which father-of-the-year Crosby could have done — Jasmine realizes he is a keeper. Jasmine apologizes to Crosby for not telling him she planned to introduce Jabbar to Joe, but that she is getting serious about the doctor and wants him to be a part of Jabbar’s life. Crosby is upset that the woman he broke up with months ago has met someone else. Crosby ought to consider that perhaps Jasmine is attracted to Joe because his shaved head is a refreshing change from the dirty straw that is sprouting from his scalp.
The soundtrack to Adam and Kristina’s (Monica Potter) storyline is provided by the world’s tiniest violin. Kristina is frustrated that her kids do not want to spend time with her. The rest of the Bravermans, including Adam, are still not offering her any assistance with the baby, which undoubtedly contributes to her fried nerves. Kristina decides that her family needs to do an activity together. Instead of asking Haddie (Sarah Ramos) and Max (Max Burkholder) what they would like to do, she and Adam decide they are going to play miniature golf, an odd choice for a family with a six-week-old baby. Will Kristina carry Nora in a Baby Bjorn while she attempts to hit the ball through the windmill? Everyone argues on the car ride to the golf course, so Kristina kicks them out of the car and drives away. Max wonders if she remembers the baby is in the back seat. This episode would take a dark turn if she left Nora in the car while she played 18 holes. When she returns home, Kristina reveals that the real reason she is upset is because Haddie is going to college. Haddie rationally points out that it’s a year away. Max semi-spontaneously apologizes, having absorbed the lessons that Amber (Mae Whitman), who is now the most sensible person on the show, taught him a few episodes ago.