Before the season premiere of “Parenthood” one big question loomed on viewers minds: how would newcomer Ray Romano fit in with the Bravermans, particularly since his character, Hank, is slated to be a love interest for Sarah (Lauren Graham)? On what planet would a woman who is engaged to Jason Ritter leave him for Romano? As it turns out, Romano is great. If you watched “Men of a Certain Age,” you know that he is capable of playing more serious roles. Hank is sort of like his MOACA character Joe, if, after the show ended, Joe failed at his quest to join the PGA Senior Tour, grew more cynical, sold his party supplies store, moved north and opened up a party business. His bemused reaction to the Bravermans is funny and he and Graham do have chemistry. Maybe the Bravermans will love Raymond/Hank.
It looks like Mark, last season’s perfect younger boyfriend, is about to get thrown under the bus. Though he and Sarah have been engaged for months, he still has not bought a ring. There are references to him being too young for her. Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) does not want him in the Braverman family portrait because she has a rule that you have to marry into the family to make the cut, though he eventually persuades her. That seems both hostile and pretentious. Are the Bravermans the VIP room of families? The Bravermans have hired Hank to photograph them, dressed in tasteful black and grey, before Haddie departs for Cornell. When Sarah drops by his shop to finalize arrangements, she talks her way into a job as his assistant despite having no photography experience. When she screws up, he fires her. Then, after photographing the Bravermans and mocking Mark’s relative youth, he hires her back because she is good with people. Apparently, there were no applicants who were both qualified for the job and had decent social skills. Or, more likely, Hank thinks Sarah is hot.
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Joel (Sam Jaeger) and Julia (Erika Christensen) are finding it difficult to parent the newly adopted Victor, who they are letting eat junk food and ignore house rules. When Max (Max Burkolder) accuses Victor of steal his lizard, after not so helpfully pointing out that Victor is not a “real” Braverman,” they don’t press the issue. Julia confides to Joel that she is still waiting to fall in love with her new son. It’s pretty heartbreaking. Fortunately, Victor does make the cut for the official portrait.
Amber (Mae Whitman) is now an assistant at the Luncheonette. The singer in a bad jam band hits on her. She totally sleeps with him. Oh. Amber, if you’re going to be a groupie, pick someone whose band doesn’t suck. She plays guitar for him and sings. Later his girlfriend drops by the studio with a gift for him. Amber does a good job of pointedly bringing his girlfriend in to see him. Amber sort of tells Crosby about the situation. He tells Adam who freaks out and orders the band to leave the studio. Amber is rightfully angry, reminding him that she is an adult who is aware that lots of musicians are scuzzy, and that she can handle the situation on her own.
Adam (Peter Krause) and Kristina (Monica Potter) have micromanaged Haddie’s final week at home, seemingly unaware that teenagers want to spend more time with their friends than their family. Kristina laments that Haddie will never live at home again, apparently not having read a single one of the thousands of articles about college graduates who move back in with their parents because they can’t find a job. By the end of the week, Haddie does not even want to attend the family party in her honor, though once she’s there and sees the effort that everyone is made, she realizes how lucky she is to have some a great, albeit overbearing, family. She also has a sweet goodbye scene with Max, the source of so much conflict in her life. She even hugs her parents at the airport.
Crosby (Dax Shepard) cut his hair! Hallejulah! Speaking of which, he and Jasmine (Joy Bryant) are upset that Jabbar has started praying. God forbid! Jasmine’s mother has taken it upon herself to teach him about Christianity. They ask her to back off. Crosby is surprised Jasmine believes in God. He doesn’t and doesn’t want his son to go to church when he doesn’t. How did this not come up when they planned their wedding or all the years they have raised Jabbar? Crosby learns that those ex-hippies Zeek and Camille experimented with communes, Buddhism and Tantra. Crosby has never had a conversation with anyone about anything before this week. How was this not something that Zeek and Camille talked about all the time, like every other Baby Boomer who was vaguely experimental during the 1960s? Didn’t the Bravermans used to be part Jewish? Crosby asks Jabbar what he prays about. Jabbar, like a typical kid, prays for his family, and an X Box.
Drew’s (Miles Hizer) girlfriend Amy returns from camp and clearly wants to break up with him. But we won’t see what will surely be an awkward conversation until next week’s episode.