Parenthood: The More Things Change...

Parenthood S03E18: "My Brother's Wedding"

There were lots of big moments during this season of Parenthood: a birth, a wedding, a first time, an adoption. But after last night's finale, I’m forced to question why it doesn’t feel like a season where very much happened. Let me be clear about something first—this isn’t a criticism. Parenthood is one of my favorite dramas on TV. The fact that it doesn’t feel like a series with big moments, despite having many of them, is actually a testament to what makes the show so great.

There is something so natural and effortless about Parenthood—each progression is the next logical step forward. Even the missteps can be smoothed over because the end result is so satisfying. That Parenthood gives us this much drama without ever feeling like a soap, and that I can look back on a season that drove the plot forward and still feel as though I was simply watching a family grow, reflects a series at the top of its game. Parenthood is grounded and consistent. Quite simply, it’s the best family drama on television.

I don’t know how else to say it: I love Parenthood. It’s rare that I just gush about a series—as a critic, I try to keep my responses more measured, less based on gut feelings. But this is just the kind of show you fall in love with—the Bravermans are the kind of family you fall in love with. And so I’m left feeling nothing but warmth as I think back to the arcs of the show’s third season. I can nitpick the mistakes that were made along the way and the choices that I still don’t understand, but I basically just want to hug the show and tell it how much I love it, flaws and all.

It helps that the finale worked for me on so many levels: Each of the season’s storylines reached a conclusion that was honest and earned. Even the marriage of Crosby and Jasmine, which I’d initially thought would be too rushed, felt true to those characters. Of course Crosby and Jasmine would drop everything to suddenly marry each other, and of course Parenthood would give us that perfect wedding before saying goodbye for the season. (God, please just let it be for the season. I don’t want to imagine a TV landscape without the Bravermans.)

Even the plots I cared about less reached conclusions I appreciated. I’ll be honest, I had little interest in Amber and Bob Little. And if you told me I’d be at all invested in Drew and Amy’s first time having sex, I’d have been—well, mildly uncomfortable. But it all worked. These stories led to some of the episode's best moments: Amber calmly choosing work over a man, Drew and Amy sweetly (and awkwardly) falling into bed together. There’s always a lot at play on Parenthood, so it’s easy to lose track of the subtler stories—that just makes them hit harder when they do come to the forefront. This is a show where I don’t always realize I’m on board until we’ve reached our destination.

The story I was most drawn to this season, and this is likely my bias as an adopted person, was Julia and Joel’s decision to adopt another child. This is also the story that has taken the biggest toll on me emotionally: I’m glad you couldn’t see me last week when Julia realized she would not be getting Zoe’s child, and ducked into an empty room to cry while Death Cab for Cutie’s “Transatlanticism” played. (Just typing that made me a little bit weepy.) It would have been too simple to just give the couple another baby, so I admire the show’s decision to complicate matters with the adoption of an older son. I’m thrilled to see how the family adjusts.

The other plot I don’t want to see end is the relationship between Sarah and Mark, which is a testament to the performances of Lauren Graham and Jason Ritter, two actors with strong, believable chemistry. I hate the fact that the finale left us on a proposal, and I accept that if Ritter’s pilot is picked up, we may never see him on Parenthood again. I’m just glad we got something past that abrupt break-up—a chance that maybe these two can find a way to make it work. I’m rarely so invested in a TV couple, and logistics aside, I desperately want them to stay together.

Give me another season of Parenthood, NBC. Give me five more seasons of Parenthood. I don’t know that I’ll ever want to say goodbye to the Bravermans: some of the most realistic, endearingly flawed characters on television. May we continue to step into their homes every week and be a part of their family. And, you know, “may you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true, may you always know the truth, and see the lights surrounding you...”


QUESTIONS:

– Will Victor be welcomed into the Braverman family?

– Is Sarah going to accept Mark’s proposal?

– Can Crosby and Jasmine learn to live together?

Comments (18)
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This show is by far one of the most understated shows on tv. At times I think it's at a disadvantage being on NBC, but it truly is classic tv in the moment.
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couldn't have said it better. i agree 100% with this article and i'd be really sad if it got canceled. sometimes i can relate to this tv show so much cuz it reminds me so much of my own family. except my family isn't as cool as the bravermans lol
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if they cancel this show and "Whitney" is still on the air, I will go hobo with a shot gun on NBC studios.
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Wait a sec...Ive always been under the assumption that this show was a Comedy. I mean, hello, Lauren Graham? Comedic moments used to promote the show? Come to find out it was actually a DRAMA this entire time? is it an hr long? Did I miss much? Well, if it had very few "big moments," then maybe I didnt.
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I don't usually watch family dramas because I always feel like it gets a little too crazy, but I LOVE Parenthood. The storylines are amazing and the characters lovable.



I'm glad the season finale put some closure on all the characters' storylines, but I really hope it gets renewed. Would especially love to see more of Victor and a married Crosby and Jasmine.
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I, too, hope it returns next season. It is one of a few shows that I can watch at any time, day or night, unlike an action show or a mystery show where I have to be in the right in order to watch them.



I am in the process of watching Six Feet Under for the first time and find it funny in the similarities between Peter Krause's characters of Adam Braverman and Nate Fisher, where in both he plays the older brother who gets into a business that he at first wants nothing to do with and then later must make a decision between financial comfort and family loyalty when someone shows up to buy the family business.



And finally, has anyone made a drinking game for this show? One of the things I find amusing is the amount of yelling on this show in each episode. If someone were to take a drink every time the characters got into an argument with each other, I don't think anyone can make it through an episode without blacking out.
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wait hold on? this show is in danger of being cancelled?? dang you NBC!!!

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very nice and beautiful episode!! did you guys see jabbar and sydney dance! wow really adorable!!
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I couldn't have written it better myself, well said Louis! I love the Bravermans so much, i feel like a part of the family everytime i watch them, which is why it'll kill me if the show got cancelled. Every single character is just so convincing and lovable, i can't bear to part with them yet. NBC better renew them for at least another 5 seasons!
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love the pictures. Why is the show over so fast. It was a good epidoes but felt like it was rushed. Jasmine and Crosby barley get back together and then married. Good episode just sad it's over and will have to wait 7 months probably.
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NBC only increased the 3rd season order to 18 instead of 22 (or 24) episodes.
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i disagree, there was no need to wait they need to get married right away. I mean we had already seen them as an engaged couple there is no need to spend the next season again as an engaged couple and then get married you know.
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sixseasonsandamovie!
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I agree although ti felt quick it was a VERRRRY good season finale....



I jsut wish that it ISNT the end fo the show, but I imagine ednign it on 18 episodes instead of the regular 22 sitn a good sign at all.....



there are WAYYY too many plots left hanging....



will crosby and jasmine really be a loving married couple??? will crosby F it up again??

what will really ahppen to the luncheonnette??

WHAT THE HELL WILL HAPPEN TO THE VICTOR ADOPTION PLOT????



that last part confused yet excited the hell out of me, I literally was waiting, ok a cute little baby girl or boy then INSTANTLY WTF WTF WTF its and boy and hes also 5-6 years old???that will definitely be an interesting plot, I just wish they would have introduced sydney to him at the same time they met him, she WAS just sleeping upstairs....???



all in all if that IS the final episode of the show ever, I will be VERRRY annoyed and sad....they at least need a proper finale, even a 13 episode season like chucks final season would be fine with me....
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I totally agree the show is just so comforting and so inviting, it not super thrilling or super hilarious but just a really great drama. I loved the wedding it was so sweet and real, and that Adam actually made the right decision for once! I am so excited for more of the Joel/Julia stuff because its so fantastic. The only thing I am sick of is the back and forth with Sarah/Mark we had the same thing happen a while ago when Jason's show the Event (a real winner) got picked up either become part of the cast or leave for good, I would love more Seth on the show instead!
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Jason Katims is truly a writing genius. I especially like how 'Parenthood' creates storylines where I'm constantly conflicted -- I pick a side of one character, then pick the other's side, and back again. But I will NEVER be on Crosby and Jasmine's side -- those two as a couple are a COMPLETE MESS! I feel sorry for Jabbar to be surrounded by that dysfunction.
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I can see what you mean, I was just WAITING for crosby to sleep around with some random girl the nigh before the wedding...



shes a sweetheart but he needs some relationship help.....he may not need help with women but he needs help with monogamy.....



that and I was JUST getting used to the doctor J was dating and all of them moving in together....she deserves him SO MUCH better....
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First, I'd like to say that I am 100% with you. I just want to hug this show. It makes me misty for the days I used to watch "Everwood" and see Ephram and Andy Brown grow from two strangers into a strong Father-Son team as well as the rest of the cast (incidentally, if you love "Parenthood" GO WATCH "Everwood", too. You will LOVE it). This show is truly the best family drama on TV, and I would be SAD times like 500 if it got cancelled. I teared up about 12 times last episode with the adoption storyline.



-I think he'll be welcomed into Julia and Joel's arms. Sydney will of course have her issues. I think Sarah and Co. and Crosby Inc. will be fine but that we might see a little bit of pushback from Zeek and Adam.

-You don't know how much I hope that she does. No offense to Jason Ritter, who I am sure is an excellent actor and who deserves his own starring show, I don't want him to leave this one.

-I think so. I think it'll be easier than they think if they learn to grow around each other rather than fight for the straightway against each other.



Love this show. Let it return for next year!!
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