By Emily Bodden, Daily Arts Writer
Published October 1, 2013
After eight painstakingly long months and a very noticeable absence, NBC’s “Parenthood” is back. Luckily, the producers made it up to the audience by providing a fairly satisfying season-five opener.
Thursdays 10 P.M.
More like this
Crosby (Dax Shepard, “When In Rome”) and Jasmine (Joy Bryant, “Hit and Run”) have their healthy baby girl within minutes of the episode’s opening, and they make at least two jokes about her being whiter than they would have thought for someone biracial. Aside from that slight discomfort, the baby provides a situation that pushes Crosby to take on a more serious role, feeling like a continuation of themes in season four.
Crosby may not be the youngest child in age, but he definitely is personality-wise. His charm has worn off, and he has become that aggravating 14-year-old boy stuck in a late-30-something’s body; audiences need to see emotional growth at this point, because otherwise he will soon bore. Baby Aida provides this opportunity. The writers have created a natural way in which to make Crosby grow up by raising a child — remember, Jabbar, his son, was already five he met his father.
Kristina (Monica Potter, “The Last House on the Left”) also sees character growth in the season opener. After several sob-inducing episodes about her breast cancer diagnosis last season, she walked away in remission. After being approached by Bob Little — the politician who both Kristina and Amber (Mae Whitman, “Arrested Development”) worked for last season — to run his mayoral campaign, she declares she’d rather run for mayor herself.
Sure, Kristina fought cancer last season, but this decision is active and conscious. No longer making excuses for herself, season-five Kristina has potential to kick some serious butt. She may finally show off the intellect and drive suggested previously and only reflected in brief instances. It would be great for her to unapologetically seize what she wants after seasons of bending over backwards to help her family — taking charge of her life in a way previously unseen. As evidenced in her performances again and again, if anyone can solidify her character as an audience favorite, it is Monica Potter.
One of the notable omissions in the season opener was Amber’s drool-inducing boyfriend Ryan (Matt Lauria, “Friday Night Lights”). In the eight months between seasons, he was redeployed to an undisclosed location. His face is seen momentarily in a glitchy Skype call with Amber before the connection is dropped — but then Ryan comes back with a rather cliché move. The writers of “Parenthood” have Ryan return from his deployment to get down on one knee as soon as he is reunited with Amber.
“Parenthood” is better than this. Proposals of this nature are commonplace and unoriginal television. Considering how emotionally guarded Ryan is, the proposal seems out of character. The presentation did not hint at a cause for this sudden-changing life plan. Hopefully the writers have something up their sleeves because the development in current context is eye-roll inducing.
The season premiere of “Parenthood” sets up a potentially great start for season five with pivotal growth moments for several characters. Perhaps this season will not be as emotionally taxing as last season, but watchers beware: “Parenthood” pulls on the heartstrings. Viewers can look forward to another wrenching, albeit sometimes too much so, season with the Bravermans.