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Friday, January 11, 2013

Parenthood Season 4, Episode 13: An Unplanned Braverman Pregnancy

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2013 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge Amber consoles Drew after learning that Amy is pregnant. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NBC.COM.
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  • Amber consoles Drew after learning that Amy is pregnant.

We start this week's episode with our least likeable Braverman, Crosby, doing just what we would expect from someone with that title. Despite his five seconds of maturity last week -- in which he decided to be a gracious host to mother-in-law Renee as she tries to find a new job -- Crosby begins to unravel because he gets shut out of the bathroom one morning and has to eat fish for dinner one night. You know, unspeakable things.

See also:

Parenthood Season 4, Episode 12: The Bravermans Wig Out

Parenthood Season 4, Episode 11: A Very Emotional Braverman Christmas

Crosby gets really unhinged when he learns that Renee has turned down a job offer because it doesn't meet her benefits expectations. Though he loosely frames his argument in a "In this economy, we can't be picky" context, it's transparent that he just wants her out of the house. Renee gets emotional as she apologizes for inconveniencing them, noting that perhaps she is being too prideful by trying to find a job as meaningful as her previous one. So, yeah, there wasn't too much of an arc with this storyline aside from featuring Crosby's awfulness through yet another lens. But, I suppose it's a realistic arc nonetheless. Sometimes family members just suck, narrative structure be damned.

Over at Adam and Kristina's, Max's pituitary gland is well and active judging by his reeking body odor. Kristina learns that Max has still been on a pre-teen two-day-a-week shower schedule and she and Adam ask him to amp up the bathing program. Max (surprise!) pushes back about the increased showering because like all malodorous people -- particularly ones that ride public transportation -- he just doesn't seem to register his own scent. He does, however, recognize that hair is growing on various parts of his body and begins to drop trou to show his parents. Kristina quickly averts her eyes and yells that she'll give him Skittles if he showers. Ah, the simple, hairless days of Skittle bribing. How the kids grow up so fast.

When Camille and Zeek pop over for a visit, Max announces to them that he has pubic hair but has yet to experience ejaculation before his grandparents can even take off their coats. Kristina is horrified but Camille and Zeek act as if Max just said, "I got an 'A' on my math test," and they heap on the inappropriate, creepy praise. Zeek even asks Max if he's had a wet dream yet because as a former erectile dysfunction commercial actor, Zeek is happy if any Braverman is functioning normally in that department.

Adam finally sits one-on-one with Max to go over some hygiene tips and then tries to steer the discussion to sexual feelings. Max says he won't have those feelings due to his Asperger's. Adam tries to delineate the difference between expressing emotions and having sexual urges, but Max interrupts saying he's just not ready to have the conversation. It's great to see these moments when Max struggles with the less concrete aspects of his Asperger's, particularly since it shows a different angle to the condition that's not all about blunt (albeit, often hilarious) comments and tantrums. Parenthood also focuses a great deal on Max's growth and couldn't have captured it better than the scene where he emerges from the bathroom to the tune of "Feeling Good," freshly-showered and declaring to Kristina that he smells better because he washed his "armpits, butt hole, and balls like Dad said." Note: These are not the original lyrics to the Nina Simone classic. Also, if Berkeley Unified Schools does not hire Max to teach their sex ed classes, then they are truly missing out. Though Adam felt saddened by his talk with Max in which his son seemed too aware of his own limitations, he and Kristina consider Max's new shower schedule to be a small victory.

At Julia and Joel's, Victor is still battling with this adoptive mom. At breakfast, he refuses to eat the pancakes Julia has made because he prefers Burger King pancakes, a restaurant his birth mother took him to every day. If Victor does not see the correlation between his daily breakfast with the King and why he is now living with strangers, perhaps he will someday.

Victor also skips dinner and Julia breaks, saying she's going to feed him fast food. When she and Joel go to Victor's room, they see he has procured a giant bin of candy which Julia had kept secure in her closet. Julia confronts Victor about taking things from her room and he responds like every child, biological or otherwise, by telling her he hates her and to get out. Julia reaches for the candy bin and she and Victor begin a tug-of-war until he accidentally ends up on the floor, now full of even more misdirected rage.

He guides that rage toward the telephone and soon, Julia has the police at her door saying they received a 911 child abuse call. The authorities leave once they realize the call was unwarranted, but their visit has traumatized Sydney and left Julia and Joel emotionally exhausted. When Julia tries to tell Victor that his phone call was out of line, he ignores her and, once again says Julia is not his mom. Victor, just go to Zazzle, print "You're Not My Mom, Julia" on a t-shirt, and make things easier for everyone. Julia walks away and Joel tells Victor that he has really hurt her and the rest of the family.

It turns out that Victor's police call triggered a visit from Julia and Joel's caseworker from the adoption agency. Julia explains Victor's transition into the house as getting progressively worse, though Joel thinks Victor has made great strides at school and with baseball. When the caseworker asks them if they're reconsidering going through with the adoption, Joel immediately says "Of course not," but Julia hesitates and then wonders aloud if they can keep doing this. Joel, the O.G. Parenthood unicorn, is deeply upset by this and leaves the room. Come on, Joel. It's not like she said she was going to abandon Victor at a Burger King (though, he'd love that). I appreciate Julia's storyline and how human it must be to have these kinds of reservations as an adoptive parent.

Speaking of unicorns, Mark returns to this episode because he's concerned about Drew. He spots Drew and his girlfriend Amy having an intense conversation in the hallway at school and notices that Amy isn't in class. If you couldn't tell by the title of this post, young Amy discovers that she is pregnant. Drew, in all of his shaky emo-ness, tells Amy that everything will be okay, but is shocked to learn that his platitudes have no effect on making her feel better. Amy takes an emotional but pragmatic stance and tells Drew that she has made an appointment at Planned Parenthood to get more information and confirm the pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Mark shows up to Hank's studio to ask Sarah if everything is okay with Drew. Hank tries to make himself scarce but it turns out that walking to the back of the room does little to minimize the crippling awkwardness of the situation. Sarah thanks Mark for showing concern and they both give each other a prolonged, wistful stare before saying goodbye, which means that this unicorn is probably flying back on his glitter rainbow for a third shot at love with Ms. Braverman.

At home, Sarah tries to pal around and asks Drew how he's doing, explaining that Mark had been by to express concern. Drew does a terrible job at covering up his anguish but pins it on college application stress. Because teen couples always cry and fight in public over college apps. "Your personal essay sucks!"

At their Planned Parenthood appointment, Amy and Drew sit in a catatonic state while listening to their doctor and remain in such a state as they drive home. Amy says that there's only one option for her and that they can get an appointment for an abortion as early as the following day. Drew tries to convince her to wait, suggesting they can start a life together and raise the baby. Amy believes her life will be over if she has the baby and asks Drew to help her cover the abortion costs. Though we rarely see this trope with male characters, it's clear that Drew is trying to produce a baby in order to keep this relationship together. His main problem is that he's trying to produce a baby using a uterus that is not his own. He should really go back to the drawing board for this one.

At work, Hank asks Sarah about the Drew situation and she assures him that Drew is fine. Hank suspects then that Mark made up a reason to come by and Sarah ribs him about being jealous. Then, as if Hank had planted the idea in her brain, Sarah stops by Mark's apartment pretending to have some of his old household items and to let him know that Drew is okay. Mark admits that it was hard for him to see Sarah with Hank and that he should have fought for her. They share yet another prolonged, teary-eyed stare which means somewhere Hank has suddenly and inexplicably begun weeping.

Meanwhile, Drew has gone to Amber for moral and financial support for Amy's abortion. He tells Amber that Amy has shut down emotionally and that he feels like this situation is his fault. He cries as he explains that he doesn't want Amy to abort the baby yet wants to respect her decision. Finally, we have a depiction of a non-doltish teenaged male expressing genuine emotions about the complexity of abortion. It doesn't counteract the baby daddies from what feels like 29 seasons of 16 and Pregnant, but it's a great start.

Despite his feelings of conflict, Drew goes with Amy to her Planned Parenthood appointment and drives her home afterward. When they pull up to Amy's house, Drew says he will call her later but she says it's not a good idea as she needs a lot of space. Drew is now thinking, "If only I had a baby to keep her close!" which provides Amy with the perfect time to discreetly slip out of the car and run inside. At home, Drew breaks down in Sarah's arms, and she finally figures out that perhaps it's not those college application essays that are causing him to sob uncontrollably. Good detective work, Sarah.

Parenthood airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.

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