Tuesday’s third season premiere of “Parenthood” featured the Bravermans in unusually melodramatic scenarios, a departure from the show’s typical focus on realistic family issues. Will it work? Or will it turn out like “Friday Night Lights” Season 2, which awkwardly shoved a murder plot into the high school football drama? It’s an apt comparison not only because Max (Max Burkholder) gave a shout out to the show, but because Jason Katims is the executive producer of both series. Is this an attempt to fix something that wasn’t broken in pursuit of higher ratings? That is but one of the many questions this episode posed.
1. How can Amber afford her own apartment? Amber (Mae Whitman) has plenty of motivation to escape Casa Braverman, with her mother, Sarah (Lauren Graham) watching her every move thanks to the bad choices she made last season. But where did she get the money to rent her own loft? Yes, it was dirty and lacked a kitchen, but it was huge. There was no mention of her having a job. She is not going to college, so she can’t take out any student loans. Her cool new car was explained as a gift from her grandparents. Are they paying for her room and board too? If so, what incentive does she have to further her education? She’s living better than most recent college graduates.
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2. How did Christina get such a great job? Last season ended with Adam (Peter Krause) getting fired and Christina (Monica Potter) discovering she was pregnant. This season begins with her as big as a house, and excelling at a seemingly important job. It apparently started as a temp position, which somewhat explains why a company would be willing to take a chance and hire a pregnant woman, but how, when people who have been unemployed for a few months are unable to find work, did a longtime stay-at-home mom land a professional position? Why is Adam complaining that the situation emasculates him instead of being grateful that his wife is providing for the family? Will Adam and Kristina break new “Parenthood” ground by becoming the show’s only household with two working parents?
3. Will Adam go into business with Crosby? By the end of the episode Adam had landed a soul-crushing job with a beverage distributor. Crosby (Dax Shepard) suggested that Adam turn it down and purchase an abandoned recording studio with him. This seems like a doomed business venture both because, as Adam pointed out, the music industry is dead, and because the large initial investment required means that it would be a long time before they turned a profit. Adam’s baby is going to need diapers right away. But it could be entertaining to watch them attempt to pull it off. Crosby claimed the studio was where the Grateful Dead and Janice Joplin used to record. That’s the music of Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) and Zeek’s (Craig T. Nelson) generation. Shouldn’t he be name checking the Bay Area music stars of Generation X, Green Day?
4. Why is Julia joking about buying a baby? Julia (Erika Christensen) has had no luck in her quest to adopt a baby. When she learns that her office’s barista is pregnant and does not want to keep the baby, she starts joking to her family that she wants to buy her baby. Where did that come from? It’s not funny. It’s creepy and snobby. Why doesn’t she just casually mention to the barista that she wants to adopt and see if she responds? Why does the barista look and sound exactly like Juno?
5. How the hell did Alex get arrested? The scenario: Haddie (Sarah Ramos) goes to a high school party. Her boyfriend, Alex (Michael P. Jordan) opts out because he is a recovering alcoholic and wants to avoid temptation. When he arrives to pick her up, she is wasted on Jell-o shots. Alex demands she leave. She says no. The party’s host, doing his best impression of the villain from a John Hughes movie, gets in his face. Alex decks him. Alex gets arrested. Wait, what? A drunk, underage teen called the cops? The cops did not cite any of the drunk teenagers but arrested a sober adult on the word of a drunk kid? That seems highly unlikely. Given that Alex is poor and African American while the party attendees were rich and mostly white, it seemed like Alex was being discriminated against. The revelation that he had prior convictions came out of nowhere and seems like an attempt to turn nice guy Alex into Jordan’s prior character, Vince from “Friday Night Lights.”
6. Do the show’s hairstylists hate the cast? Haddie has an 80s style perm that makes her look like a damp poodle. Crosby’s neither long nor short hair continues to be an unflattering travesty that makes it hard to believe women find him attractive. Amber’s short, blonde look suits her alternative, hipster tendencies, but it’s not what most people would consider attractive. The memories of Zeek’s Season 1 hippie mullet will linger forever. Presumably, “Parenthood’s” hairstylists are trained professionals, so why are they choosing to make so many attractive actors look so bad?