PARENTHOOD “Clear Skies From Here On Out” Review

PARENTHOOD “Clear Skies From Here On Out” Season 3 Episode 4 – Parenthood is such a deft show that even when its storylines are meandering and pretty plotless, they’re still watchable and even enjoyable because of the charm of the cast and the calibre of the characters (I am so on an alliteration roll). But quite often it’ll crank out an episode like this which is just filled with everything that makes the show as great as it is: the character flaws impeding their development, and not in a stilted, reversal sitcom-y way, but in a proper “we, as humans, are doomed and it is often we ourselves who doom us” that is frustratingly cyclical and psychologically intriguing. It’s what makes Mad Men so great: the whiskey and the cigarettes and the clothes are lovely, and the dialogue is smart, but what’s so alluring about the show is the way that the characters doom themselves, how psychologically messed up they are and how, hard as they try, they most probably never will be able to remove themselves from the rut of their vices.

You can see that in the way the Drew storyline worked out: his introvert persona made the car ride with his date unendurable, until finally the far more outgoing Amber breaks the ice. These things broiled inside of him until he was finally pushed over the edge with a photo and lashed out, broke down, over the top and dramatic and completely uncool. It was predictable, but in the most complex way. Over the past three seasons Jason Katims and his writers have developed these characters into real people, so that we the audience can read their ticks and know what’ll send them over the edge and you could see Drew’s mind work as soon as he laid eyes on the photo of his mom and English teacher (Jason Ritter, still affably bland, but here at least used for a purpose) and you knew he was going to explode, but you just prayed he wouldn’t whilst simultaneously hoping, for the sake of drama, that he would.

It’s what’s so great about television as a medium, why , the very few times it’s done right, it transcends film and theater and arguable literature as a vent for character study: we get to spend so much time with these people, and because it’s fictional we usually see them not when they’re lying around the house watching cartoon and eating Ben and Jerrys, but at the most interesting moments in their lives, like a during and after a breakup or a fight between cousins, so we know what makes them tick, we know what makes them happy, we learn who they are when their backs are against the wall and they become recognisable as people.

And sometimes it can sneak up on us. I did not realize I was as emotionally invested in Alex until his breakup, not so much with Haddie, but with Kristina. The Bravermans had become such a force in Alex’s life, but it was not played up and so when the time came for them to part it was devastating.

The other storylines worked well: Max and Jabbar’s fight in the playground dragged in both branches of the Braverman clans (and Jasmine, of course) and was as satisfying as any of the storylines involving Max have ben (as in, very satisfying). Zeek’s erectile dysfunction balanced off the heaviness of much of the episode in a brilliantly played subplot.

Without a doubt this was my favourite episode of the show this season.

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below.

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