If you turned on the Olympics at any point these past two weeks, you must have caught an ad for NBC’s newest show, “Parenthood.” The commercials for it ran constantly. So often that when the Olympics ended my friend tweeted “Remember, Parenthood airs on Tuesday. #olympicmemories.” (Is there anything more enjoyable than passive aggressive tweets against network TV?) Well, when Tuesday night rolled around, as promised over and over again by NBC, “Parenthood” premiered.
The concept of the show is exactly how it was portrayed during its massive advertising. It’s about being a parent, wanting the best but dealing with the worst and how to handle it. While the kids on the show are an intricate part of the storyline, the focus is (not surprisingly) on the parents. We look at how it makes a parent feel when the child is being pressured, bullied, rebelling, retreating or sick. A typical primetime show will focus on the relationship between the parent and the child; how they both feel. “The Parenthood” centers on mainly the parent’s emotions and struggles. It takes on an interesting perspective.
Most of the parents on this show are siblings (with a few spouses mixed in) and their parents are played by Craig T. Nelson (who you may remember from one of my all-time favorite sitcoms, “Coach”) and Bonnie Bedelia. Nelson plays Zeke, the more intervening, dominant parent. His relationship with son Adam is brought to the forefront immediately. Adam, played by Peter Krause (Six Feet Under) seems to have the most heart wrenching story line in the pilot episode. After trying to keep his overbearing father from meddling with his parenting decisions with son Max, (played by Max Burkholder) he learns that Max’s struggles to be normal are being caused by more than just outside pressure. Max is diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. In a scene outside Adam’s niece’s chorus concert, Zeke demands that Max comes into the concert and attends with everyone else. Adam then defends his son, saying he will not be able to attend if the candles are present so they will remain outside. Adam and Zeke butt heads on this issue until Adam breaks down and admits his son is sick. He requests his father’s help and already in the first episode, we realize that the father-son relationship is very powerful.
The show has a few sappy moments that can over power the interesting stories that are happening. The constant celebratory family dinners are forced and the family bonding at the end of the episode, in celebration of Max wanting to play baseball suddenly, is a bit nauseating. There are also characters that are bland and cliché, such as Crosby, played by Dax Shepard (“Punk’d.) Must there always be a fear of commitment/womanizer on every show? (Is there even one in every family?)
For a pilot episode, it was surprisingly emotional. Most shows take longer to develop that kind of attachment from their audience, but this show hits home quickly. The clips for future episodes seemed much more intriguing than the pilot episode; causing a viewer to get sucked in. If the show can continue to deal with real-life parental issues, and stay away from the easy sugar-coated family sitcoms that we have all grown tired with, the potential to be great is there.
Initially, I wanted to dislike this show. I wanted to come onto my blog and say that even Ron Howard and Brian Grazer couldn’t get me behind this show. I didn’t want to enjoy a show that NBC was forcing down my throat while I was trying to enjoy a simple game of curling. I even wanted to write a tweet about how bad this show was… well, thank goodness Twitter has a delete button.