Parenthood Review: Growing Up, Moving On

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"Family Portrait" tossed us into the melee of the Braverman world five months after we last saw them. A lot happened while we weren't looking and, as so often is the case, we were treated to both heartwarming and heartbreaking stories in the fourth season premiere.

While I was certainly happy to see Sarah and Mark continued their engagement, foreboding was at every turn as Mark wanted so desperately to be included in the family portrait. Something about the urgency of his need to be included made me wonder what had happened during the five months we missed that made him feel such separation from Sarah.

Let's face it, it would have only taken him a short stroll over to the main house to confirm everything he was told about previous portraits - that fiances were not included. The real issue had to be a much deeper sense of detachment from Sarah and the entire Braverman clan. 

Parenthood Season 4 Premiere Pic

Ray Romano has come so far from Everybody Loves Raymond. His work in Men of a Certain Age was outstanding and he didn't disappoint in his first appearance on Parenthood. As Hank Rizzoli, the cranky photographer, he added yet another dimension to the troubles between Sarah and Mark. Sarah doesn't know it yet, of course, but for a type like Hank to crack as easily as he did when faced with her colorful personality, topped off by his numerous comments about Mark and his age, their future was almost written in stone. Hank's going to go for it.

Elsewhere Joel and Julia's adoption went through and we met Victor, a young boy of questionable origin. We didn't receive much information about his background, but it was immediately obvious that Julia was out of her comfort zone. Not only was he being allowed to watch television and eat in front of it when Sydney was forbidden, he was watching what a appeared to be a live execution.

I don't care how comfortable you want someone to be in your home, kids need boundaries and that's one I was shocked to see crossed. Yes, I realize it was probably only a movie, but when Sydney wandered through the living room, how was she to know the difference?

Apparently Joel had been letting Julia set the rules to that point, because he finally had a chat with her after a lizard fiasco between Victor and Max. The way he phrases things can melt a girl's heart. He essentially told Julia that at some point she had to stop treating Victor like a guest and start treating him like family. That when she said this Parenthood quote and this broke my heart: 

Julia: Joel. I feel like I'm waiting to fall in love with our son. | permalink

If only that were the only heartbreaking story of the evening. As much as I've had my ups and downs with Haddie over the years, I really felt for her as she prepared to go off to college. Max was acting up at the thought of the change in ways we haven't seen in a very long time, but she held it together, telling him how much she would miss him and what she loved about him. There were family meals and parties and celebrations of Haddie and her life as she moved on to her next big adventure.

At the heart of it was a silent sadness that nobody wanted to admit. Haddie was moving very far away, and the change would be enormous for such a close family. If you didn't at least tear up as Haddie broke free of the line in the airport to run back to Adam and Kristina then I think you were guilty of multi-tasking.

There were a few lighter stories, thank goodness, to this weighty episode, but even they had a tone of sadness. I know if I don't touch upon every arc in this season opener review there will be hell to pay, so keep reading!

As Jasmine and Crosby struggled with what to teach Jabar about God, we learned that Camille spent some time in the 60s in a commune and she and Zeek studied Buddhism for a while. Why should I be surprised at that? Their back stories are always so picturesque. What they didn't do was provide Crosby with even a sliver of help in determining how to influence Jabar's spirituality.

While most parents would just do for their children what had been done for them, I like the idea of them taking time to decide what is best for their son, even if it might mean exploring avenues that make them a bit uncomfortable along the way.

Zeek, who had learned to be Zen back in the day, was now teaching Drew how to bulk up for Amy who spent the summer away. Like his mother's relationship, early indications seemed to spell doom for their romance upon her return from camp. It's so difficult to watch young love and remember how awkward it was to be so unsure of your actions and unable to read the signs. Oh, who am I kidding? Many moons later and that awkward inability to understand the twists and turns of the heart is what makes watching them so compelling.

Finally, rounding out the Holt family love life was Amber, hooking up with a musician who was recording at the Luncheonette. I am so glad she's working there. It makes more sense than any of their other employee choices. Keeping it in the family and keeping themselves out of trouble.

Unfortunately, it gave Amber a chance to get into some. The guy she slept with, seemingly sweet and fun, had a long term girlfriend. I loved that Amber took Adam to task for kicking the band out of the studio on her behalf. She's grown so much and knew the responsibility for what happened was on her shoulders. 

I wouldn't have expected less, but we had an absolutely wonderful return to the schedule from Parenthood. I can't wait to hear what you all thought of the episode, and what you think will be coming up in this sadly shortened fourth season. Let's keep those ratings up!


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (73 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


what a great recap. so glad i stumbled across this. as a new convert to the show, i appreciate the writer's perspective. fav line: If you didn't at least tear up as Haddie broke free of the line in the airport to run back to Adam and Kristina then I think you were guilty of multi-tasking. nice way of giving the benefit of the doubt for not tearing up -- aren't we always multitasking while watching tv? annoying. we used to be able to just sit there. what i love about this show is the heart -- it always gets to the heart of matters. not just the surface. the writers are genius. even if you know where an episode is going, it's still really rewarding. at the end of the day we are all just people, trying to be happy.


This is my favorite TV show. I laugh and cry every episode. It's such a refreshing change from reality TV. The writing is amazing and the acting is superb. I love the way the writers give the actors permission to ad lib. Please spread the word about this show so it stays on forever.


I absolutely adore this show. Ray Romano was fantastic and I instantly loved his character. It was great seeing Paul from American Idol love the tone of his voice and that crest white smile! I have a like dislike relationship with Haddie but I'm going to miss her. Its funny how with a family like hers she undoubtedly spent all this time dying to get away but they're too close and too fun and she clearly will miss them. Amber working at the studio id perfect I just wish she'd work on keeping her professional life separate from her personal one in the romance department. I just adore this show. It was a great premiere.

Sarah silva

Lucas...Sarah Ramos is not leaving for good she will be one a couple episodes

Sarah silva

I too have been up and down with Hattie and I did like her scene with Max in his bedroom and I did shed a tear at the end when she ran back to them at the airport. Sadly I read that one of the Bravermans gets bad/sad news and I think it will be Christina and she will have cancer and so Hattie will come home.
I like the Jasmine we had last night, she was on Crosby's side for once! I was one of the few that liked Bob and Amber last season and they end that relationship but then have her fall for a guy that was a cheater! I really hope she gets a good love interest.

Sarah silva

I love this show and it deserves a full season not 16 or so episodes!
I like Mark and I want him and Sarah to get married, sadly I do not know if that will happen. Jason Ritter has said many times he loves working on the show and will stay as long as they allow him too.
I love Joel he has been my favorite since day one, his humor is great and he is a sweetie! I am not sure if people caught his humor on this episode but when Christina said she had to wait 8 years to get in the family photo and Jasmine said she had to get married to be in the photo and then Joel said he did not get in the photo until their 3rd anniversary. He was reffering to earlier seasons when he would joke that he never felt like part of the family.


Gosh, I love the Bravermans and it is so nice having them back. I really liked the season premiere and could easily relate to Haddie's goodbye and send off. Every season I grow more in love with this show. It's a shame the seasons keep getting shorter and shorter.


OOPS - I meant Haddie - NOT Maddie. sorry. The poor kid, Victor, is out in left field because no one is paying attention to him. The parents need to set some rules and make him feel like he is part of the family and not the horrible statement she made, "I'm still waiting to fall in love with my son?" Why did they want another child if this is the way they are going to act??


If the season is going to be as awful as this first episode - then PARENTHOOD will go off the air very soon. Max was just horrible (they need to rein him in, syndrome or not), Maddie just wanted to be left alone and all the mother did was cry throughout the entire episode. The religion discussions were not for TV; that's a personel discussion behind closed doors. The entire storyline was lame - the characters didn't act and I was so disappointed in the entire hour. This was one of my favorite shows and now I'm not so sure.


What happened to the politician amber was involved with last season? That was a promising story arc, but now she's hooked up with some guy at the luncheonette? Where is the old receptionist that Christine forgave for coming on to Adam? So yeah, a couple things I want to know, hope they answer those questions.

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Parenthood Season 4 Episode 1 Quotes

We think it's just better if you let us handle the big questions with Jabar.


And now, take your shirt off!