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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Parenthood Season 4, Episode 9: Hateful Haight Neighbors

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Julia and Joel deal with stay-at-home parenting. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NBC.COM
  • Photo courtesy of NBC.com
  • Julia and Joel deal with stay-at-home parenting.

Perhaps sensing that we were all feeling sympathy nausea during Kristina's chemo story arc, Parenthood goes in a less intense direction this week in "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

Let's start with Crosby, who's obnoxiousness is now prompting legal action from others. A new neighbor of The Luncheonette's Haight location busts into the studio to complain about noise, cigarette butts, and band members using up her two parking spaces. First of all, if you live by yourself and have two parking spaces in San Francisco, I already hate you.

See also:

Parenthood Season 4, Episode 8: Bad Seeds and Killer Weed

Parenthood Season 4, Episode 7: Pre-Chemo Tension

The neighbor, Marlise, is a bit exaggerated as an entitled Bay Area resident (I personally think we Bay Area folk are a tad more passive-aggressive) but I loved the representation all the same. Notable traits include 1.) chastising Crosby when he mistakenly calls her "Marlene" and she responds with "It's Marlise. It's French." 2.) stating the price of her $900,000 condo and 3.) insulting the quality of Crosby's gift basket peace offering. Seriously, if you're gonna give a San Franciscan a gift basket, you better step yo' game up and do a little better than choosing Gorgonzola as your main cheese.

The cheese was an attempt to play nice with Marlise after she gets legal on Crosby for essentially ignoring her complaints. When the plan fails, Crosby tells her she's delusional for buying a place in the Haight if she wanted a pristine, silent living environment and mocks her overall bourgie-ness. He goes to Julia for legal advice and she says that Marlise's homeowner rights could potentially shut down The Luncheonette. Crosby, against all good judgment, decides to handle the situation on his own since Adam has enough on his plate. He should start curating his "I'm Sorry I Got You to Invest in a Business That I've Effectively Ruined" gift basket. See you at the Ferry Building, Crosby.

Meanwhile over at Julia and Joel's, there's some friction between the golden couple as Julia is having trouble adjusting to life as a stay-at-home mom. After dropping off Victor at school, she gets practically kidnapped by a group of squawking school moms to join their morning coffee klatch. Among their agenda items? Naming all the teachers who are infatuated with Joel. It's a bit creepy, as if they're just working themselves up to finally invite Julia and Joel to the mass key party they've been planning.

Not able to transition with grace into her new role, Julia freaks out on Joel when he accepts a high-profile contracting gig without consulting her first. Joel puts his handsome foot down and says he has never questioned Julia's career or parenting decisions because he respects her and clearly it's not mutual now that he wants to work outside of the home. Julia first tries to guilt him by saying they should both be home to devote full attention to Victor while Joel espouses this radical notion that at least one adult in the family should be earning an income. I'm convinced that Zeek made millions as a drug trafficker and is keeping his kids' pockets lined, because the Bravermans have a serious aversion to work while maintaining an affinity for really nice Bay Area homes.

Julia says she's just not cut out for staying at home and that she doesn't find it fulfilling. The kids aren't too excited either, judging by their tepid response to Julia's homemade pasta skills, which is apparently what stay-at-home moms do when they're not at the cafe talking about sexual fantasies. I bet Joel makes fantastic pasta dough. I bet he built that pasta machine himself. And of course, Julia comes around, because how could you not when desirable and reasonable Joel has his masculine five o'clock shadow in your face?

Also wanting employment is Ryan, Amber's vet boyfriend. Zeek tries to prep him for an upcoming interview and tells Ryan an anecdote about selling encyclopedias when he got home from Vietnam. Ryan jokingly asks what an encyclopedia is and Zeek gets salty. No one ever teased him about his age back when he was acting in those erectile dysfunction commercials. Ryan's interview turns out to be a bust, apparently because the employer asked him if he had ever killed anyone. What a dick. Amber goes to Zeek for guidance because she's worried about Ryan's emotional state and Zeek tells her that war changes people. Every time Zeek talks about war or coming home from war, I expect to hear the faint chug of choppers in the distance, but alas, it never comes.

Over at Adam and Kristina's, Max's student council adviser phones home to report that Max has been vetoing (without any actual authority) his fellow members' desire to hold the annual school dance. While Max initially states that the budget should be saved for his beloved vending machine, you can tell that he doesn't want to attend the dance and doesn't see why it should be held. Adam is ready to let Max skip the dance but Kristina, under the rationale that she doesn't know how much time she has left on earth, forces him to go and even buys him some new dress shirts for the occasion. Adam backs her up, because how can you say no to anything requested by your awesome, cancer-stricken wife? On the big night, Kristina coaches Max on how to ask a girl to dance and also how to politely respond to a girl rejecting his offer to dance. And when you thought your heart couldn't swell anymore, Kristina shows Max how to slow dance while a jazzy number plays in the background and Adam watches on with a smile. It's a bit of a Rain Man rip-off but without the general unease that the presence of Tom Cruise brings.

Then we get to the most explosive part of the episode which involves the ongoing love triangle between Sarah, Mark, and Hank. Sarah and Mark are headed to a wedding in Napa for the weekend and Mark has even upgraded their hotel suite for some added romance and luxury. What they don't want is any type of romance for Drew while they're gone so they banish him to Zeek and Camille's, making it extra difficult for him and Amy to have sex. [Note: They're forgetting that those crazy kids will still have access to her house, to a vehicle, and to any open or enclosed space in Berkeley.] Drew disagrees with this decision on the grounds that Amber was allowed to stay at home when she was his age before trailing off about Amber being crazy. Seriously, anything Drew mumbles under his breath is pure gold. He is perhaps the most authentic character on this show.

Drew's protests are just a minor hiccup compared to the havoc Sarah wreaks when she tells Mark that she's going to miss the first day of their trip to help Hank at a shoot in LA. Hank -- who was already on Mark's bad side after calling Sarah for a late-night ride after getting wasted -- has discovered that his ex-wife plans to move with their daughter to Minnesota and is trying to do a sneak attack on her in L.A. without their lawyers to work out a compromise. After telling both Hank and Mark that she can't make it to L.A., she backpedals and tries to split her weekend to accommodate both men. Mark calls bullshit and tells her not to come to the wedding at all since she's prioritized Hank over him. Is it possible that Hank's surly sarcasm is more appealing than Mark's aw-shucks cuteness? I guess that's too subjective a question. What we do know is that Sarah makes terrible decisions, so either way, none of this bodes well and it's likely that Drew will soon have to find a new place to have sex with Amy.

Parenthood airs on Thursdays at 10 p.m. PST on NBC.

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Sylvie Kim

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