‘Parenthood’: Come for the Sensitive Cancer Storyline, Stay for the Shirtless Matt Lauria

"Parenthood": Peter Krause as Adam Braverman, Monica Potter as Kristina Braverman -- (Photo by: Danny Feld/NBC)

Parenthood” is back, after two weeks off, with an episode that deftly blends tear jerking social issues storylines, humor, and eye candy.

Kristina (Monica Potter) is about to start chemotherapy.  Adam (Peter Krause)  is trying to take care of all the household stuff. Kristina tells Adam her mother is going to try to visit. Adam has convinced Camille (Bonnie Bedelia)  to come over to help, even though Kristina doesn’t particularly want anyone to help her.

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Adam gives Camille a long list of instructions for taking care of Kristina, like she is a child. Among other things, Kristina is not supposed to drive or eat unhealthy food. Then Adam freaks out about the recording studio being messy and orders Crosby (Dax Shepard)  to clean it up. Crosby persuades Adam to have a drink and loosen up. Adam picks a fight with a guy in the bar. Crosby diffuses the potential Rumble in the Upper Middle Class Neighborhood. Then Adam gets teary about Kristina having to endure chemotherapy.

Watch Monday’s Episode of “Parenthood”:

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Camille micromanages everything and nags Kristina about adhering to Adam’s dietary rules. Kristina’s friends, the unhappily married Lessings who we have seen before,  drop by with chicken. The refrigerator is full of it. Hee! They confess to being in sex therapy. I’d like to see more of these anti-Bravermans. Then the wife breaks down crying.

Kristina tells Adam she feels like a prisoner in her own home. She doesn’t like being taken care of. She’s a caregiver. She admits she wishes her own mom cared enough to see her. She heartbreakingly says she doesn’t want to sound like she’s complaining. Kristina, you are entitled to unleash the hounds! Or at least your puppy Otis! Kristina’s mom blows her off, claiming she has a kidney stone. This explains so much about why Kristina is so overbearing with her own kids. She’s overcompensating for the mothering she didn’t get.  Kristina tells Camille that her mom is always like this. She has a breakdown as she demands her car keys saying she is capable of driving. When she picks Max (Max Burkholder)  up, she is eating ice cream. She bribes Max to stay quiet by giving him an It’s It, which could pretty much get anyone to agree to do anything. Then they go to what appears to be a Chuck E. Cheese arcade. The morning of her chemo, Camille gives Kristina a comfy sweater that her friend who survived cancer wore. She tell Kristina that when she first met her, she thought she was wrong for Adam, but she’s never been happier to be wrong. She loves her. Everybody cries. Adam holds Kristina’s hand as she starts chemo.

Victor is still on the non-Dillon Panthers little league team. Julia  discovers the other kids are excluding Victor from their activities. She weirdly wonders if it’s because he’s Latino. Did she sign him up for the Nazi Little League team? Why are all of the Bravermans so weirdly clueless about race and ethnicity despite living in one of the most diverse areas of the country? Maybe she can go consult her brother who was shocked that his African-American wife had different life experiences from him because of her background.

Joel asks Victor if he wants to invite a friend over. Victor suggest his old friend Miguel. Julia and Joel get all classist and weird. How dare you want to hang out with your old brown friends Victor! You are living with WASPs now, and you must sacrifice every single aspect of your former life that you enjoyed in order to conform to their expectations! His social worker, who apparently is a Dickensian monster, advises them not to let him see any of his old friends, but Julia decides that it’s possible a kid from the wrong side of the tracks might not be a total thug. They go to the Bad Neighborhood where Victor is from, which is not particularly scary, though they are practically clutching their pearls in horror. Victor and Miguel happily play basketball, speaking Spanish. Maybe Victor would be happier if he were playing basketball, which he seems to be good at,  instead of baseball. Julia tells Joel how surprised she is to see him so happy, as if it never occurred to her that Victor probably had a life he liked with a mother that he loved before he came to live with them.  Then she gets self-absorbed about how she can’t make Victor that happy. It’s not about you, Julia. So Julia studies Spanish via Rosetta Stone.  Victor overhears and seems to appreciate her efforts. I hope there is a scene where Victor and Jabbar trash the Bravermans for their well-intentioned ignorance like they’re a pint sized “Key and Peele.”

Drew (Miles Hizer) decides to bring his ex Amy a get well gift because she has a cold. Drew, once you finish college every woman on earth will want to date someone as sweet as you.  He drops the basket and runs when a giant dog barks at him. He comes back to visit and its awkward, especially when Amy’s new college boyfriend Jake turns out to be there. Ouch. At school, Amy apologizes to him. Drew says that Jake looks 30 and calls their relationship illegal. Ha! Then Drew blurts out that he had to move in with Mark and his aunt has cancer. Masterful guilt trip, Drew. Amy drops by his place to say she’s sorry about Kristina. She takes his hand. A minute later, they are all over each other. Drew, you just learned a lot about how women are turned on by vulnerability.

Amber (Mae Whitman) and Ryan are playing miniature golf because Ryan is an awesome potential boyfriend.  Amber is dressed for a cocktail party. That’s how you rope him in, girl. They totally kiss while he helps her with her swing. He says they should take it slow. Cut to them totally doing it at her place. Hello, hot shirtless Matt Lauria. It’s about time there was some real eye candy on this show. Have I mentioned that Ryan has a decent haircut? Amber wakes up lying on his chest. Call me, Matt Lauria! He takes a pill, presumably anti-depressants, and tells her “That’s what tours in Afghanistan will get you.” Sarah shows up for a planned breakfast. Amber tells her she can’t go. Sarah realizes Amber’s got a boy in her bedroom. She is thrilled when she learns it’s Ryan and can’t resist yelling goodbye to him.

Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) shows Ryan drop listings. Ryan shares a story about trying to get Afghan Opium farmers to plant wheat. A farmer he persuaded was killed. Ryan says “We killed that guy.” Whoa, “Parenthood” gets political. Let’s talk about Drones! Zeek is surprised to learn from Sarah that Amber and Ryan dating. He’s bothered that Ryan didn’t tell him he was dating Amber. I can think of no scenario in which a young guy would want to tell a man that he is hooking up with his granddaughter. Then he admits he’s worried that Ryan is still messed up from the war and might not be capable of being in a relationship. Sure enough, Amber notices that Ryan is having trouble sleeping. He doesn’t want to talk about what’s bothering him. Given that Amber does a better job than anyone else of relating to Max, I think she can handle a great guy with PTSD.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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