Parenthood Review: Tragic Circumstances

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As Parenthood Season 4 winds to a close, we're getting into some really dramatic and intense issues. 

"Small Victories" highlighted to a chilling degree the latest in the adoption saga of Victor by Joel and Julia, as well as the consequences of the oodles of unprotected sex that occurred between Drew and Amy. 

Can Camille Help?

Julia and Joel: I know this will be a very unpopular opinion and I'm prepared for the feedback, but I cannot condone Victor's behavior. Yes, Sydney is and always has been a spoiled brat, but Victor is no better. He doesn't get a free pass because he was raised differently. He obviously loves his real mother very much and takes it out on Julia. She can't win.

My assumption is he was raised without a father, so Joel isn't taking any of the flack because there isn't anyone for Victor to compare him to or for him to miss. Either way, the situation is getting worse and it's very hard to watch, especially knowing how much Julia wanted another child.

Calling 911 on Julia because he refused to let go of the candy box and fell off the bed could have just invited social services into their lives forever. While he tossed a metal bat at his adopted sister and received barely a harsh word in return, he called 911 over another incident for which he was partially responsible.

Yes, Julia was behaving irrationally by grabbing at the box. She should have walked away. But falling off the bed is hardly child abuse. I think Victor has serious mental problems that will be exposed. His reaction to Joel wasn't even appropriate given the situation. Can their marriage withstand all the stress of their predicament?

Julia's second guessing the decision to adopt Victor didn't surprise me at all; it scared the hell out of me. For as much as she wanted and needed Victor, she was losing her confidence. It really makes me wonder how often these things happen to people who don't think as deeply and thoroughly about their decision to adopt and the kids who get caught in the middle. It's a very disconcerting situation, from both sides.

Adam and Kristina: Thank goodness Max's candid and brash nature offset the sadness of the Graham's situation with a bit of humor. Greeting Zeek with a chat about pubic hair was hilarious, as was Zeek's response about wet dreams. I was wondering why there was a note about adult themes at the beginning of the episode and I sure found out why with the stories that played out. Kristina was channeling the late comedian George Carlin with her many turns of phrases for the upcoming states of Max's private parts. 

Drew and Amy: If ever a teen pregnancy didn't move me, it was this one. I barely bought the romance between Drew and Amy during their first go around, but the sex-filled romp it became after she returned from summer camp never set well with me and now it seems the only reason they were brought back together was to tell this tale about teen pregnancy. 

That said, the very best thing about taking the time to tell it was they didn't back away from the abortion. It seems there are very few in Hollywood willing to touch the topic, despite its legality or its support in the liberal world of entertainment. It was a topic Jason Katims tackled successfully once before in Friday Night Lights.

At that time, the story had very far reaching repercussions for characters who weren't even directly involved, so I am interested in what this development might mean for Drew's future and Sarah's when she finds out she really was in the dark in thinking he was only stressed over school issues. Might it be a way for Sarah to get closer to Mark again?

Crosby and Jasmine: Even Crosby couldn't have prepared for how difficult it was going to be to incorporate Jasmine's mom, Renee, into their home. She was cooking food he didn't like and serving it before he got home from work, spending hours in the bathroom doing her hair for a job she was offered but turned down and even did her son's laundry at the house. It was beyond trying for him.

Every time Renee came close to getting a job, Crosby got his hopes up so high that his landings became harder and harder until he could no longer hide them from Renee. She was forced to admit she was probably looking for something that no longer existed, but it was awful to hear her talk about working for a non-profit for 30 years and giving every extra cent to them only to end up a budgetary cutback. Ouch.

What surprised me was that as much as Jasmine is into making lists and rules for things that she didn't try to make things more bearable at the house with time schedules, charts and graphs for eating, using the bathroom, when people could and couldn't visit, etc. When an extra person is added, it's workable as long as everyone is respectful of the time of others. The only person on the planet that scares Jasmine is her mom, and that ended up biting her in the butt.

It was another extraordinary episode of Parenthood. What did you think? Too controversial or did they get it right? 


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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


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@Kristy you've echoed my feelings perfectly, in a way i couldnt quite express. You're a goddess.


Having watched every episode from day one (some of them a few times), I have repeatedly seen Joel refer to Julia as "your mom" to Victor, and seen Julia huff and pout and walk away when Victor asserts that Julia is not his mother. Just because she doesn't flat-out say "call me Mom" doesn't mean she doesn't want it and press for it, even expect it when it is not very likely to happen.


Some posters seem to have strong opinions but have not watched the show regularly. Julia does not want Victor to "call her" mom. Victor calls them Joel and Julia and everyone seems fine with that. She was trying to explain to him that his real mother could not be a part of his life anymore and they do often refer to Julia as his mother, I think that is appropriate. I do wish that she had explained what his mother did wrong, even though he does seem to understand that she was not an appropriate care taker, I wanted to know more. I think it would be sad for everyone if they do not go through with the adoption. I think that the social worker and perhaps other professionals need to play a bigger role. Victor is acting out because he's upset and some very bad things have happened but I'm not sure that means that the adoption cannot work.


Oh gosh, I feel bad for Victor. Of course his actions were bad, especially calling the police, but this kid has had his whole entire life turned around. And he does remember and love his "real" mother, no matter how bad she was. The Grahams have changed his whole life and now they are taking away his "real" mother. If Julia just dropped the whole thing everything would work out faster. Joel is such an amazing person. He is like a saint.
I feel for Amy and Drew too. And I think they showed the teenage dad's version on the pregnancy & abortion well. They never do that on TV, so it was nice.
I also feel bad for Crosby. My house is three generations and all that but it is culture and I'm used to it. But Renee was just controlling and annoying. If she had a job offer, she should of taken it.
Adam/Kristina were fun this week. What happened to Hattie though? When she skypes home, isn't she going to notice her mom's cancer now that she doesn't have hair?


Loved this episode! (as usual...Emmys here we come Monica Potter...or I quit watching them.) I don't care for Amy at all and am glad she's out of Drew's life, tbh. Not sure I care for Drew, tbh...but with Sarah as his Mom...jus' sayin'. The only one of those three that I like...and I REALLY Amber :-) Re: Renee -- 30 years on the job and she gets let go? Govt jobs like that are based on seniority...she really must have done an awful job to be let go like that. Just my thoughts...I don't feel sorry for her one bit. she's just not likeable to me.


Julia didn't get a baby, and Victor comes with a past. It's going to take time. And as for the bat throwing incident: while I would have liked to see less leniency for Victor, I also would have liked to see Sydney take responsibility for antagonizing him. They were both wrong, and she was beating him emotionally just as severely as she might have been hurt by that bat. He lost his temper and made a bad choice, as shown by the look of surprise (not malice) on his face. I think he meant to scare Sydney, he could easily have hit her with the bat at that range if he had wanted. That temper and anger and constructive ways to handle it need to be addressed, and Sydney needs some chances to develop empathy before she becomes totally her mother's daughter. The heartless corporate lawyer using her words to destroy Victor's Mom-and-Pop emotional security.


Julia has little to no emotional intelligence, and has been blundering forth as though this child were an orphan desperate for love. No matter how imperfect his bio mom, he remember and loves her. She needs to give him a little space and let him come to her, while making her behavior expectations clear (and holding him to the same standard as Sydney). The Grahams need to do a lot more calm talking before things escalate to bat-throwing and 911. Victor is not "un-savable" or mentally ill. He is a kid struggling to deal with a seismic shift in his life, with almost no emotional support. If Julia could ever put herself in anyone else's shoes she might understand that.


Wow, I guess I really see the Victor situation differently than everyone else. Maybe since I often work with kids like him. Victor lost everything in one night: his mother, his old neighborhood, his socio-economic class and the identity that went with it, and even his native tongue. EVERYTHING. That would be hard enough to handle even for a well-adjusted kid from a stable, two-parent home. He has been with this new family for less than a year and his new, rich white mommy is throwing temper tantrums when he points out that he already has a mother (one whom he remembers well).


What struck me most about this episode wasn't so much that they didn't shy away from abortion, but they actually gave a voice to those teen BOYS that can feel sad and a loss over an abortion. They exist in large numbers but are never talked about, never considered, and definitely never portrayed on TV. Bravo for giving Drew that depth of feeling and not giving us yet another teen boy in a panic fleeing from or ignoring a difficult problem.

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Parenthood Season 4 Episode 13 Quotes

Hi grandpa, I have pubic hair.


My real mom got me Burger King every day.