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What Should Parenthood Have Done Better In Six Seasons?

What a forum Parenthood had for sharing so much valuable information about autism. What a waste.

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Yup

They should have gone to Autistics and asked them for input. We know that Autistics, like most disabled people, would benefit from some advisor job and Max would have been a more realistic character, or at least more like Autistics

Katims had an agenda, and in the best Autism Speaks fashion, he denies the existence of thinking Autistic adults. To them, all Autistics are children and difficult, then they grow up and disappear. The ones who speak up are "not Autistic enough" and the ones who are very disabled, but do speak up, are ignored. Autism HAS to be a bad thing and parents HAVE to be heroes.

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Sensing there is a lot people would like to discuss about how Parenthood might have handled some of their storylines through out their six season; Should Jasmine and Crosby gotten together? How realistic is the autism storyline? Joel and Julia: Meant to Be?

 

Discuss these here!

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For sure the biggest dropped ball is the absolutely piss poor handling of the Autism storyline. The show could not have bungled it worse.

 

I also can't believe that in six seasons and over 100 episodes, on a family drama called Parenthood, they never bothered to explore Kristina and Joel's backgrounds and relationships with their respective parents and/or siblings. Kristina's cancer storyline pretty much begged for an appearance by her parents, but nada.

Edited by jb1183.
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I would have kept Haddie around! And a small change, but make Amber speak without saying "like" every other word. 

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How about not letting the youngest generation get away with stuff just because they got emotional. With the exceptions of Haddie, Victor and Jabbar, it seemed virtually every time a Baby Braverman got upset, angry or cried, the Middle Generation Bravermans would immediately leap in and try to use their emotional outburst as an excuse for not holding them accountable for whatever they did. Max, Amber and Sydney are the worst examples but just once I'd have liked their parents/aunts/ uncles,etc. to have said 'I understand you're upset but that doesn't give you the right to pull [whatever]'

Edited by Blergh.
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They shouldn't have focused so much on Adam and Kristina's family. For years, they have gotten the bulk of the major storylines. From Kristina's ever changing jobs to her cancer to Nora to Max's autism to Adam's companies to now this Snowflake Academy storyline, it feels like we get very little from the other families. Like Crosby, for example. His major storyline happened in season one, with discovering Jabbar. Maybe a couple of seasons ago when Jasmine moved her mom into their home. Besides that, Crosby and Jasmine's wedding took up one episode, the pregnancy about two in between seasons and he's only now starting to get a meatier storyline, which of course won't be done justice because it's the last season and they all have shortened contracts. Sarah gets her love life as a storyline throughout the seasons, but not much else. What about storylines surrounding her kids? More surrounding her and Seth maybe? Although maybe it's best they left that storyline alone, because it was good with the little attention it has had but it could have been worse.

 

Then look at Julia's storylines and I'll admit she's had the second most good storylines. Well, of course they HAD to have a divorce/separating storyline on this show so naturally it HAD to be with Julia/Joel (because Adam and Kristina must win at everything! Sure. Kristina had cancer but she BEAT it. Sure she has an autistic son but he's AWESOME AND SO BRAVE. Sure she started up her own business/school, but KIDS! Sure she didn't make mayor but...BUT SHE'S A MOM!). The adoption storyline was great, it's definitely my favourite storyline of the series. So basically, too much focus one one household. They pretend that the storylines are divided equally but in hindsight, if you step back and look at the weight of each storyline, Adam/Kristina get the 'hardships' without the true hardships. Crosby gets the struggling with money storylines (I'm impressed by the consistency of Crosby/Jasmine not being rich), Sarah has the single mom with various boyfriends storyline, and even Julia gets the struggling adoption storyline and none of them have been easy. 

 

Also, Max. Actually, no, I don't blame Max. He doesn't know any better. It's his parents that are the problem. Sure, Max is a problem child but his parents don't teach him anything, they coddle him and they make him a special snowflake. No wonder he's a horrible child! They never discipline him! Except for maybe in the first two seasons. 

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It's the autism thing that really bugs me. Parenthood may be the first, or maybe even the only, exposure the audience has to autism. It is a spectrum disorder. If we are to think that it is 1 to 10, why make Max a raving maniac? This makes me think of some fifth grader at dinner one night who wants a new boy he's met at school to come over, and mentions that he's autistic. (Wait, think the parents - not like that kid Max on Parenthood??!!) Why write Max as having so much anger and so many behavioral issues? It's a social development disorder. There were so many ways to write a  stronger and realistic story arc. They have trouble accepting it. They keep fighting for him to stay in general ed classrooms. They don't like the diagnosis and still want to downplay it -- and teachers and administrators and their family and the audience could have been rooting for Max. A breakthrough? They decide to address it and struggle with meeting his needs, not cutting everyone down who doesn't go along with how "special" or whatever their son is. Instead he was just difficult, demanding, selfish, irritating, blah blah blah, with parents who fixed everything and never once addressed the roots of his over the top behavior. 

 

The biggest mistake: Kristina for Mayor? How about the school board. Kristina starting a #%@@ school? How about a perfect classroom for her son, who has a social, and not a learning or physical, disability. General ed isn't a fit, special ed classrooms are dealing with reading intervention and multiplication facts. Hey Kristina of the school board, why not create and find the funds for maybe a couple of bungalows at an existing school site to create classrooms for kids that have autism and have issues typical of a young teenager with high functioning ASD, which again is a social development disorder. This could have shown all kinds of kids on the spectrum, and could have offered potential "buddies" for Max. 

 

And that's just at school. I'm saying this because Autistic Spectrum Disorder is being said a lot. People are hearing it everyplace, the statistics are alarming, maybe they've heard about their own children. So why not show the real struggles of trying to help your child to understand things and learning to integrate into the community instead of just fixing everything leaving Max blameless?

 

The other thing? Why do they have so much money? I mean opening seasons Adam was a what? Tennis shoe executive? There are a lot of other things too, but they have been stated here and there and again, quite beautifully. I'll miss this show because it's so annoying -- admit it, we all love hating a bad show. 

 

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CouchTV

Re: Autism

It is Katims agenda. It is his message, which is Autism $peaks message. Nothing can be good when it comes to autism. That's how they get their money. Fear and pity, nothing positive (of course marketing dictates that they mud throw a scene or two with positive messages, but that cannot last)

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CouchTV

Re: Autism

It is Katims agenda. It is his message, which is Autism $peaks message. Nothing can be good when it comes to autism. That's how they get their money. Fear and pity, nothing positive (of course marketing dictates that they mud throw a scene or two with positive messages, but that cannot last)

Yes. They didn't do a very good job of exploring other aspects of autism. I have had conversations with two teenage boys recently about their autism/aspergers. Both were able to speak to the advantages of their autism. They like the way their brains work, they like that logic and order take precedence over emotion. Granted these boys are gifted in math and science so they had advantages associated with that. But they like themselves, are in good control of their emotions, and accept themselves as "weird". They wish others could understand them better, though, and get sad about not being accepted by peers.

Neither of these kids would blow up like Max does. They used to, but they learned ways to deal with frustration.

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Since fall finale encapsulated so much of what Parenthood could (and should:) have done over the years, I've cross-posted here.

Background: I wanted to like this show; I have tried to like this show. Others (many others, in fact :) have noted the flaws discussed below, but loved the show in spite of them. I guess I must have a lower threshold... But, what's made watching Parenthood such an exercise in frustration is that it's always been disconcertingly easy to see the show that it could have been -- the show it should have been.

The true pleasure of serial drama -- and yes, Parenthood is a serial drama -- lies less in the culmination of a story than in the anticipation leading up to the climax and the aftermath. But, with so many characters to service and a declining number of episodes each season, Parenthood has skipped from high point to high point, never exploring the valleys in between; always telling viewers when it was time to cry, never letting us get there on our own. (I really thought I was going to be the only person to make it through the entire series without shedding a tear. But during Joel's heartfelt plea to Julia in the restaurant, I finally teared up for the first time. Better late than never, I suppose. :)

The other source frustration is, of course, the Bravermans: insular; entitled, boarding on arrogant; self-absorbed, but incapable of self-reflection, self-examination or ever admitting that they might just be the one in the wrong. Yes, they may say the words when pressed (but really, has anyone ever truly called a Braverman on their shit and made it stick? I know, rhetorical question:). But with the exception of Camille and Joel (of course, neither a Braverman by birth :), they do not own their faults or learn from their missteps. And those missteps never, ever, result in real and lasting consequences. In the end, everything always works out for the Bravermans.

As Alan Sepinwall pointed out at HitFix, the financial constraints of this final season (which meant fewer characters per episode) provided a real opportunity to delve deeper into the characters and their relationships. Why Jason Kamins choose to squander this opportunity by focusing so much attention on Hank and his family is anybody's guess.

Here's my take on the fall finale:

Zeek's treatment of Drew

While Zeek's desire to surprise Camille with a trip to France was lovely, his treatment of Drew since his surgery has been unforgivable. And, no one's called him on it. Not Camille, the closest thing Parenthood has to a moral center. When Zeek told her about the trip, it would have been the perfect opportunity for her to hold his feet to the fire for the damage he's inflicted on his grandson.

Then there's Sarah

She's been so tied up with Hank and his family drama that she doesn't seem to know what's going on with her own children. Is she even aware that Amber was in the hospital? Does she know that both Zeek and Amber have been pulling Drew away from his studies, which in typical Braverman fashion, has had no consequences, at least not yet (and anyone holding out any hope for the final few episodes, raise your hand)? Thinking back, have Sarah and Drew even shared a scene this season? Less of Hank's family drama would have freed up time for the missing Sarah-Amber, Sarah-Drew, Sarah-Zeek, Sarah-Camille scenes

And finally, the Snowflake Academy:

This episode offered an opportunity (squandered, of course) to explore in the persons of Adam and Kristin much that is wrong with the Bravermans, while, at the same time, providing both anticipation and aftermath.

Their behavior toward Max has created so much damage, not just to Max, but to the school, where his obsessive attention toward Dylan is quite likely actionable. Why wouldn't parents watching the meltdown of Max and his parents start yanking their kids out of Chambers Academy, post haste, putting the school's future in serious peril?

That possibility could have led to some serious soul searching on the part of Adam and Kristina, and lead them to the painful realization that their inability to confront Max's behavior has not only undermined his growth, but brought them to the point of losing the school. Their conversation would have taken place before they talked to Max (anticipation); leading to a conversation that would have forced Max to realize that notwithstanding his intentions, that yes, he was harassing Dylan. The aftermath? Well, instead of dropping by unannounced, perhaps a proper meeting at the school that began with Adam and Kristina acknowledging the truth of Dylan's parent's observation that Adam and Kristina see the world only through the view of the son, and that ain't no way to run charter school.

If only... The saddest words in the English language...

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Aside from Buddy's behaviors being overlooked and fixed by his parents for years, with no consequences or teaching or much needed therapy?

It's all that damn money they have!! Where on earth is all this money hidden? This isn't a couple of thousand here or there. This is purchasing things like a music studio. In SF, with historical ties. Financing a mayoral run. Haddie's college tuition. Fixing black mold. OK, one more thing...it isn't just the stairs in their retirement home, it's the location. Hey, let's move to San Francisco to relax and lower our monthly payment! What? Last thing. Oh, whatever. There are far too many. Well the school is just too ridiculous to even acknowledge.

 

Oddly enough? I really like this show, if only because I know the next day is Friday

Edited by CouchTV.
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Kristina's character's moral high ground position should have been honestly challenged...what? more often? once?  I honestly can't remember Kristina's sanctimonious side being ever seriously challenged by another character.  Drama isn't about putting forward a point of view you secretly agree with (perhaps the writers do, perhaps they don't but the show seems to indicate they do) and never providing conflict for it.  Drama is all about conflict, if it's not then it's bad writing. 

 

I believe, overall, the show is effectively written with spots of good to very good writing, but in Kristina's case...well I would say to the writers that they missed an opportunity there.   I would also point out, over the years, the exceptional talent of some of the actors involved often brought some periods of very run of the mill writing up by quite a few pegs.  

Edited by CheersEnthusiast.
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I'm just disappointed that the show never once had a story of the difficulties caused by raising kids when both parents work.  Pretty much the entire show at least one parent wasn't working and was able to stay home and take care of the kids, or attend some school function, or after school activities.  At least they finally tackled the issue of a parent having to take a job to bring in extra needed money to the family (though still lol at $30 an hour for filing - I mean really).

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I'm just disappointed that the show never once had a story of the difficulties caused by raising kids when both parents work.  Pretty much the entire show at least one parent wasn't working and was able to stay home and take care of the kids, or attend some school function, or after school activities.  At least they finally tackled the issue of a parent having to take a job to bring in extra needed money to the family (though still lol at $30 an hour for filing - I mean really).

Yes, the chagrin expressed by the clan over poor Jasmine having to take a job to help out with finances was so out of touch with the times. Not to mention a clerical job that paid $30 an hour!

I took the liberty of looking up average salaries and the salary for a file clerk is listed at $8 to $15 per hour with the $15 probably going to those who have been in the job for years and years. In fact the high end of Dance Instructors is only $35, so she very well be making more than she ever did before and money, not job satisfaction, was the issue at hand.

Don't get me wrong, Jasmine and Crosby are my favorites but this particular storyline was ridiculous.

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I do think that the Braverman's seemingly endless supply of money, time, and talent  created story lines that were simply not realistic or believable.  

 

Sarah is a flaky, single mom with no common sense, and yet she can start a career - playwright, sneakers, photography, and find that she is instantly successful because of her enormous natural talent.  She had some kind of Midas touch, where she could stumble into a job by accident, and 6 weeks later she's more successful than people who have devoted years to the same career. 

 

Kristina and Adam had unlimited cash.  Yeah, there was mention, occasionally, of "how will we afford this?"  But the answer was always along the lines of  - where there's a will there's a way. Send a kid to  Private college, open a music business,run a  political campaign, start your own school.   How the heck does all this happen?  

 

Added to that, EVERY time one of the kids had a play, a game, any event at school,  the entire clan showed up to cheer the kid on.  How does that happen?   There's never the reality of one cousin having a soccer game at the same time that another has a play, and another a dance recital.  No, they always had time for everyone to do everything together.  My kids rarely went to their cousin's events, because they were busy with their own stuff - school homework, scouts, sports, music, etc.   And my kids certainly did not expect to see every aunt, uncle, cousin and grandparent at every one of their events! 

 

The school was the kicker for me, though.   Starting your own school, when you have no training or experience is just ridiculous.  Doing it for your teenager, who will age out of the school in just a few years, is plain stupid.  Having so many parents sign their kids up is so over-the-top delusional.  Most parents are going to be wary - watch the school for a year before committing.  The idea that these parents were all willing to place their trust in Kristina was crazy.  She lost her campaign for mayor, so maybe she'll try running a school instead?   

 

The braverman clan came across as a bunch of egotists who think the world revolves around them, and can't understand when others don't agree. 

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  • They should've handled Max better in the last two seasons. At ANY other school in the damn country, Max would've been expelled for his actions in it. Hell, if he were an adult, his life would basically be one giant restraining order. No parent should ever seem to almost accept his behavior like that and brush it off. 

 

  • The school did NOT need to happen.

 

  • Kristina Braverman needed to not be so ambitious. Yes, she kicked cancer's ass, but then she runs for mayor and then starts a school. Where the hell are they getting all this money from? They live in friggin' Berkeley! (Average rent in the Bay Area is ~$3,000/mo)
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I stopped watching the show because of how they handled Max's autism. Hated it. At first, they acted like he had cancer. Then, the way they allowed him to act was unbelievable. They could have done so much good, but instead they wasted the opportunity. It was horrible through and through. I stopped watching the season Kristina had cancer. I just couldn't deal with it anymore. I was all the more amazed at the way they portrayed it knowing that one of the creator's had a child on the spectrum. 

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In addition to co-signing re the Max and Kristina comments, I also wish that someone had called Amber on her self-destructing and, more importantly, aiding Drew in self-destructing re encouraging him to wallow in booze and pot with her and skip weeks' worth of classes rather than find a more positive means to deal with Natalie's self-justifying,entitled, cheating tude. As I said before, I know that Drew alone was responsible for choosing to get drunk and high but it was wrong for Amber to encourage that in him [and for herself]- especially since she dissed Seth for what he put them through every chance she got.  Can someone say hypocrite? No one called her on that after that disastrous dinner in which they showed up like that [only cattily dissed Sarah for having raised them]. And, this season, once Amber found out she was pregnant, no one wanted to confront her over that- just thinking that she'd somehow gotten this Madonna-like pass [both senses of the meaning]. Even when Amber was blubbering about what a 'sacrifice' it would be for her to give up booze, pot and condoms [to her brotherof all people] after pregnancy Drew, etc. never called Amber on the self-destructive tude she'd had for herself or for him. Oh, and as nice as it was for Camille and Zeek to invite her to live in their new home with her son, they should have spelled out that she'd have to be clean or at least be willing to get treatment rather than thinking they'd greenlight her possibly using under their roof.  Yes, it seems she stayed clean and sober once she bore Baby Zeek (at least looked that way in that forward flash family dinner) but, unlike TV, it's rare someone who'd used as much as she had magically quits that way forever without some serious help-and without being called on how harmful the actions are to themselves and others.

ETA- for spelling,etc.

Edited by Blergh.
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  • I would've liked to have seen a new behavioral aide for Max after the Gabby debacle.  It was like after they lost her, Adam and Kristina just gave up on trying to correct any of Max's behavior and just decided that the world needed to accommodate him instead.  I think it would've been a better story if they had showed some growth (minus the finale where he magically started smiling, making eye contact, dancing with girls, and hugging his sister voluntarily).

This will probably be an unpopular opinion, but I think they should've cut the cord with Mark earlier.  I didn't think it made sense for them to consider being together after season 3.  Once Sarah decided she didn't want a baby, I thought they were basically just kidding themselves.

This is more about the finale, but I wish there had been one scene with just the four siblings.  Those scenes were always some of my favorites.

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I'm re watching Season 1. I completely forgot about all the early stuff with Max. I'm 8 episodes in & I can't believe how much worse Max's outbursts etc became in the later years. He was totally fine, better than fine on the baseball team, hanging with Drew etc. Why did the show drop Adam/Drew/Max friendship? Drew could have been like a big brother to Mac & he was already really helping him a lot! On re watch, I hated how Adam left Drew at the baseball field to take Max to Yogurtland. Why not tell Max they'd pick up Drew on the way? Adam knew Max liked Drew, so why not use that as leverage for Max? Like TV time etc. that they used in other episodes?

The Asperger's storyline could have been SO much better. It's like they forgot that Dr. Pelican said Max was very high functioning.

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I think that the producers/writers bit off more than they could chew from day one. Everyone loves the fact that this show has so many wonderful characters, but for me it felt like all of those characters were competing for screen time and storylines and therefore none of them were as developed as they could have been. That's been my main frustration for years now. I had to sit through crap I didn't care about--although luckily not for long because they were always jumping from one storyline to another--and even the stronger stories usually weren't told as fully as they could have been. I know it's a tall order and very few family dramas/ensemble dramas get it right. It has always been my greatest disappointment with Parenthood though.

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I wish the writers/producers had more faith in their audience and didn't treat us like we all had ADD. Almost every story arc for all the families was a whirlwind frenzy. There were five branches of the family; that's plenty to work with so that the arcs could be more stretched out, staggering their dramatic peaks so that the show was still exciting.

I agree with all the specific topics that have been brought up (Autism, Kristina, Sarah's Midas-career-touch, Snowflake Academy) but I only 90% agree with the money complaints.

Yes, for the most part the show had characters go, "Oh no! How will we afford this?" "We'll find a way," and then the end. But one storyline I don't include in that is the mayoral campaign. Granted, I don't know anything about campaigns to know if the show depicted one accurately. But according to the show, the only money concern was at the beginning, before they started acquiring donations. Once those started rolling in (realistic or not), I assumed the family was reimbursed so that in the end the campaign was only funded by donations.

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Sarah is a flaky, single mom with no common sense, and yet she can start a career - playwright, sneakers, photography, and find that she is instantly successful because of her enormous natural talent.  She had some kind of Midas touch, where she could stumble into a job by accident, and 6 weeks later she's more successful than people who have devoted years to the same career.

 

In the first season, Sarah seemed closer to what I imagine the character would have been like if played by Maura Tierney (the original choice).  Then the writers seemed to make her more like Lorelei/Lauren, with guys falling over her right and left, and the character stumbling into one success after another, all while the parenting skills she showed early on pretty much went to pot.  I would have preferred a more realistic struggle to support herself in the more conventional, mundane ways that most people do.  And Adam should never have hired her at the shoe company.

 

One of the things that bugged me about the Braverman clan is the utter lack of boundaries.  Show up unannounced at Adam's offer during working hours to solicit personal advice was the worst.  He should have put an end to that himself, rather than just bitch about it.

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Better late than never I suppose...

  • I wish Crosby would have remained single (marrying Jasmine was such a tired old plot twist that didn't need to happen).
  • Haddie was interesting...I wish they would have started the show with her being 1-2 years younger so she wouldn't have gone off to school.
  • Max should have improved to reward us for sitting through all of that awful behaviour.
  • The Kristina cancer storyline was perfect...the aftermath with the academy and mayor race was not.
  • The show was generally quite obvious, safe, and predictable, right down to Amber naming her baby after grandpa.
  • Julia should never have quit her job...I loved watching the female breadwinner storyline, and then they ripped that apart.
  • Hank's ex and his daughter offered up zero storytelling value...what a waste of time.
  • The terms "Buddy" and "Sweetie" were used so often I know cringe in horror upon hearing them.
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17 hours ago, Superpole2000 said:

Better late than never I suppose...

  • Haddie was interesting...I wish they would have started the show with her being 1-2 years younger so she wouldn't have gone off to school.
  • The Kristina cancer storyline was perfect...the aftermath with the academy and mayor race was not.
  • Julia should never have quit her job...I loved watching the female breadwinner storyline, and then they ripped that apart.
  • The terms "Buddy" and "Sweetie" were used so often I now cringe in horror upon hearing them.

Amen to each of these!

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I have been rewatching the show on Netflix, and I forgot how cringe inducing the stories could be at times.  No one in the Braverman family has any boundaries.  Everyone is up in each other's business, and I forgot how many episodes seem to consist of men throwing themselves at Sarah. 

And am I wrong, or did they just kind of forget that Zeke and Camille were on the brink of financial ruin during season 1?  I don't think the story is ever resolved during the first season, nor mentioned afterwards. 

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On 09/07/2018 at 4:09 AM, txhorns79 said:

And am I wrong, or did they just kind of forget that Zeke and Camille were on the brink of financial ruin during season 1?  I don't think the story is ever resolved during the first season, nor mentioned afterwards. 

They did - and there were  quite a few other loose end stories. They never new whether they would get another season, so every season finale tried to wrap up several stories only to somehow forget about or undo them at the beginning of the next (just look at Sarah the playwright LOL)

To me Parenthood is not a show that should be binge-watched, it actually needed the week between two episodes (when it origially aired) so that inconsitencies were less obvious and viewers could recover from all the screaming. I have been thinking about rewatching the show, but then I remember how annoying some of the early season were and settle for S4 (my favourite, because #TeamHank) to S6.

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44 minutes ago, Aulty said:

To me Parenthood is not a show that should be binge-watched, it actually needed the week between two episodes (when it origially aired) so that inconsitencies were less obvious and viewers could recover from all the screaming. I have been thinking about rewatching the show, but then I remember how annoying some of the early season were and settle for S4 (my favourite, because #TeamHank) to S6.

I have been a weekly listener of Dax's podcast, Armchair Expert. He has had 4 (maybe more) Braverman guests on the pod so far, and it has made me want to re-watch the show. Mae and Dax kept saying how it was the best job they ever had and they hoped the viewers enjoyed it as much as the cast did. But after season 2, the show is just 80% improv and I wanna kill myself. They all say "like" "um" and "so what" all the damn time. The characters were just the actors by the second half of the series. I also despise how they styled Kristina to show she was a SAHM. 

The first season through Michael B Jordan's arc is the show I remember loving. But after Sarah moves in with Jason Ritter, the show was just so flimsy. I don't need shows to always have Sorkin or Sherman-Palladino commitment to the script. But dude, this show was just act as you go and I'm not even sure what happens in the later seasons. 

Not a binge-able show at all. Such a let down. 

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To me Parenthood is not a show that should be binge-watched, it actually needed the week between two episodes (when it origially aired) so that inconsitencies were less obvious and viewers could recover from all the screaming. I have been thinking about rewatching the show, but then I remember how annoying some of the early season were and settle for S4 (my favourite, because #TeamHank) to S6.

Yes, binge watching has probably made me much more annoyed than when I originally watched the show.  I did forget how truly awful Camille's hair was, and how silly it seemed that so many family members could just drop in on Julia at her office whenever they wanted.  

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