PARENTHOOD “Mr Honesty” Review

PARENTHOOD “Mr Honesty” Season 3 Episode 10 – Parenthood is, for the most part, a show which develops organically. Its “slice of life” style doesn’t jive with everyone’s sensibilities, but the show rewards dedicated viewership with moments of painful honesty few shows on television manage to skim. So in this episode you had Amber’s lower class and failed bid for independence shame as she works her ass off in a thankless job and yet fails to make ends meet, forcing her to grovel for money. You have Crosby and Jasmine rekindling their relationship so many episodes after the Minka Kelly fiasco.

These are all plotlines, but they’re plotlines so organic that it almost feels cheap to label them that.

Then there are the more obvious plotlines in which you can see the writers’ hands, but when it’s done well, as is the case with Joel and Julia’s adoption from the latté girl story, it doesn’t really matter.

In this episode they finally met latté girl’s baby daddy and he turned out to be predictably greedy. You knew before even meeting him that he was going to be an obstacle, and the most obvious obstacle when it comes to a surrogate pregnancy story is the good ole extortionist, and that’s what he was. But doing what’s predictable isn’t at all bad so long as it’s done in an interesting way, and the writers and actors expertly navigated around the clichéd shlock to bring out the best from an admittedly uninspired storyline: both Julia and Joel have way too much dignity and backbone and brains to allow themselves to get lured into the rabbit hole. They’ve agreed to pay for latté girl’s medical expenses. In return, they get the second child they want but can’t have, and latté girl doesn’t have to raise a baby for eighteen years on coffee tips. That her boyfriend wants extra cash makes sense, and it certainly brought out the best moment when Joel got seriously pissed off (any time Joel gets pissed off, whether it’s at Zeek, Sydney or his potential baby daddy, the show jumps a grade in quality) and let them know in no uncertain terms that he and Julia were not to be bullshitted. Those are characters I can get behind.

On the other hand, when you see the ink practically spilling onto the screen, it’s never a good sign, and the whole plot line regarding Adam being kissed by McBooby from White Collar reached a new level of ridiculousness when he tells Kristina that, just for the sake of honesty, he got a lip smacking. This wasn’t the problem. It stays true to his character and their relationship that he’d tell her, and the scene would have been far better had she laughed it off (my other favorite moment of the episode was when Julia and Joel had their playful indignant departure in her office). Kristina’s reaction was terrible. Not in the way it was performed (Monica Potter is very good on the show), but just the idea of it was awful. And yes, I get that it was established that her reaction was enhanced by post-natal stress or depression or whatever but the whole thing just stank of contrivance. First of all, why wouldn’t Adam just fire McBoobs? He could promise to give her brilliant references and hire Amber instead, seeing as she clearly needs the money, not to mention the fact that she’s got an obvious love for music and despite the fact that she’s probably the best actor on the show, the writers sometimes have difficulty incorporating Mae Whitman in with the regular plot.

It’s a problem the show has been having with its female characters recently, which you might consider odd since half or just over half of the episodes this season have been written by women. In past episodes Jasmine has come off as almost harpy-ish, Julia as an airheaded wombat, Sarah as a passionate bipolar case and Kristina as a raving lunatic. This isn’t a dig on the series, which has actually been very good this season, but rather on smaller plotlines and moments within the season, which have irritated me somewhat.

Just to clarify: the show is not sexist. It’s nowhere near sexist. Maybe it’s a coincidence that the main irritations I’ve had with certain storylines have all centered on the women, or maybe I’m overlooking a storyline involving Max or Zeek. It’s a narrative problem with the show, which makes it far less interesting than it could be and more annoying than it should ever be.

Because you have the likes of Crosby being superdad, Mark (I finally learned his name!) standing around while Sarah drools after Seth, Joel being for the most part passive in his wife’s hijinks and Adam being the ideal husband.

The show would be far more interesting if these dramas and plotlines weren’t so contrived, if the men weren’t so ideal. What if Adam did have uncontrollable sexual yearnings for McBoobs, brought on by his realization that he is indeed old? Sure, he’d never act on it, but when he tells Kristina she could laugh it off, tease him about kissing a fifteen year old, and wait for him to react indignantly as he realizes he actually is becoming old. Then the fireworks could come out of that and she could get justifiably and unreasonably angry. Right now, she’s only unreasonably angry and that’s only funny for so long before it becomes really really annoying.

The show has gone to some lengths to make sure it’s obvious that Crosby’s a screw-up, but for the last season his scew-upedness hasn’t really hurt anyone and the only one being hurt by Jasmine’s new relationship is Crosby. That one way street of hurt is fairly uninteresting to watch since it borders on self-pity.

Nobody wants to see a bunch of women martyrs, but it’d be nice if the men were as flawed in their actions and reactions as the women.

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