Parenthood Review: Margins of Error

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Life is filled with gray areas.

Simply standing on a different side of an issue can create a margin of error whereby you either win or lose an argument and that was the theme of Parenthood Season 5 Episode 8

Four of the larger stories involved Kristina dealing with her campaign, Amber's concern about the cost of her ring, Zeek's discovery of what life would be like without Camille and Joel and Julia coming to terms with the choices they made about Victor, along with Joel's growing disdain for all of Julia's choices over the past year.

Adam In The Media

Things started out so great for Kristina, as she learned she was within two points of Bob Little in the mayoral race - until Bob Little took the gloves off and started swinging. All of a sudden innocent Facebook photos taken on the sidelines of Haddie's soccer game made Kristina and Adam look like killers and Adam's past run-in with a man who insulted Max in a supermarket parking lot thrust their personal issues into the spotlight.

It's a sad thought that the same people who stood behind Kristina and made her a contender in the race didn't give her the same support when she chose the high road in defending her husband for his actions. Of course, they didn't know the dirt she had on Bob Little and may never know.

I'm also not sure just how "dirty" the dirt they had on him really was. Yes, he had a relationship with Amber when she was an intern, but she was 19. While a lot of people thought he used his position to his advantage, he was single and he treated her well. Frankly, I was surprised that Amber had such animosity toward him about the incident considering how it ended.

Amber's other story of the evening was her upset over the ring Ryan bought her. Despite what everyone says, I still say she's wavering about Ryan and not just the ring. Remember this Parenthood quote?

Kristina: Are you sure it's just about the ring?
Amber: Yeah.
Kristina: Oh. OK.
Amber: Everything's fine, I just. Yeah.

Sure, it was a big ring, and it felt odd to her to have such a large ring on her little finger and to have a bigger diamond than her aunts. But she was also afraid of his anger if they had the discussion. That's a flag. The way she answered Kristina was a flag. And Ryan's reaction to her request and how he felt after returning the ring weren't the actions of a happy man.

Amber and Ryan have a very long road of growth and discovery ahead. Marrying so soon is a mistake. They should do more of the former, first.

If Amber asked her grandmother about her thoughts on the issue, Camille would most likely tell her to live a little bit more before settling down. She has two generations below her and she's just now seeing the world and doing things she dreamed of as a young woman. She's doing these things while her husband is at home, eating cereal with whipped cream and bananas.

At first Zeek seemed to be loving the freedom on peeing in the bushes of his own front yard, but as much as he complained about his kids dropping in on him it was obvious he enjoyed the company. The joy on his face when he saw Millie on Skype and his exclamation of how beautiful she looked were lost on her because she was having the time of her life in Italy. If she had been able to process how deeply he felt in that moment, it might have been one of her favorite memories from her trip.

Their time apart will definitely make Zeek appreciate her more, and increase her wanderlust. I just hope they find a middle ground where they can enjoy their "Third Act" together.

A marriage that seems to be skidding into it's final act prematurely is that of Julia and Joel. Every week their interactions become more forced and painful to watch. There is little that they are not at odds on at this point, but the issue of Victor has been a sticking point since he entered their lives. Julia has always had a more difficult time with him, and I think her earlier belief that they would never bond makes Joel think part of her is giving up on him and his education. She's not.

Julia hates to see Victor struggle, but he is seriously behind in school. The differences between he and Sydney are noticeable and other students must see it as well. It will affect every aspect of his life if his friends are kids who are also behind. They should have held him back earlier in the year so it would have been easier on him, but to make it easier on them they chose to wait.

Something that hit me and was unexpected was when Joel told Julia he would be there for his son. No mention of his wife or his daughter, but only of Victor. Where is the family man we loved? He has completely changed. I understood his frustration and taking Julia to task for making decisions without him, but she quit her job in part because she had missed out on her children's lives and Joel kind of held that over her. Not against her, but over her.

Now that their roles have changed, he doesn't seem to like being in the position she was once in any more than she did. Their role reversal is not working. Is their future one of separate lives? It seems closer than ever.

The other two stories on the burner weren't upsetting in any way. Thank goodness! 

Crosby realized he had to change his expectations with regard to the life he thought he would have with Jabbar when he decided his winter sport would be ballet. My favorite scene of that whole plot line was when he was bouncing Aida around and asked her if she wanted to head into the ESPN Zone and do some chest bumps. Embrace diversity!

Sarah took Zeek's advice and went to her neighbor Carl's party. She kept acting as if he was going to have a college kegger going on, but when she arrived her had a rather lovely apartment party with wine and cheese and a lot of nice looking people just waiting to for Sarah to befriend them. 

Frankly, it made the job of apartment superintendent look awfully appealing. It's like your own Meet Up group, if you get into the right building.

This was a really pleasant episode. I didn't miss Drew and his college drama, and even though everybody wasn't happy, they weren't dire and downtrodden. There's a way to play drama where it's still an enjoyable experience to the viewer, and the mix this week was just right.


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.6 / 5.0 (23 Votes)

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


Kinda late getting here but have tough time finding post. Came away with 2 things from last week feeling pretty good .Really enjoyed passion in Zeke's' skype moment and Christina's choice not to go dirty in her election bid. That being said, I really hate the direction the writers are taking Julia and Joel's marriage. Seems all to often when 2 people have serious issues its too eazy to install a potental affiar. I hope that Julia can see what hurt it would cause to both families and stops it . Joel's attiude last week was disguesting but doesnt justifiy Julia stepping out of marriage.Cheating is cheating! As for Amber its easy to see where this is going. She is nutts. Ryan is doing the best he can but between Ambers flirting with the band and what looks like a lot of issues Ryan may have brought home from the service I dont see this ending well. Ryan is kinda alone and Amber seems to be as distracted as ever.


This show is so great at portraiting the intense emotions and journey people are going through.
Amber and Ryan's interactions are not good. It's almost as the 2 are scared of hurting the other person's feelings and very insecure. They're not OK with just saying how they feel and being direct. I dont think theyre going to make it and after seeing next episodes preview, they are definitely done.
Julia and Joel really need to spend more time together. Remember what they were like before all these stressors were in their lives. Maybe even counseling. Joel obviously is under a lot of stress and seems to take it out on Julia with building resentment. He brought up quitting her job and his resentment towards it but I dont know if this issue was discussed before. So they definitely have a lot of communicating to do. Julia is definitely finding more comfort in Ed, trouble is on the horizon. Unless Ed just takes him out of the picture for a while, which I dont see that happening.
Drew has had a girlfriend before, so should be acting a little more mature instead of someone non-experienced. But I think it's great he's letting the girl know he's confused and communicating.
It wasreally sweet to hear how much Zeek missed Camille.


I agree with you Carissa, Amber should talk to her granny and try to understand there is so much time in life to get married. she is 21...she should live a little...these two do not talk honestly to each other...and having a relationship is a lot of work, a lot of talking and understanding.
he is not honest with her, why just not admit: "you hurt me, because you don't want the ring". Amber is dishonest too. she is cheating herself in thinking she wants to marry this guy, when she obviously doesn't.
let's see how it all plays out. Joel and Julia are another story. I think they should work it out and not calling it. why? it is a commitment for better and for worse. they should try to sit and work it through. then if it still doesn't work, well, they can consider it.
they have two kids, they loved each other, they passed through worse...Just saying!


Where is Hattie?

@ Daron

The actress who plays Haddie, Sarah Ramos decided to attend Columbia University this year, so she's on the east coast at school and not available for filming.

@ Daron

Haddie is Adam and Kristina's first born daughter, across the country in college at the moment. :-)

Sarah silva

I love this show and have since day one, however this season there are 2 things I am not liking. I know it fits the storylines and I do enjoy every episode but I am not a fan of the following 2 items.
Joel: he has gone from cute, funny and sweet husband to a very mean person that I want to yell at. The way he talks to Julia and blames her for them not having money to send Victor to private school and then saying that it is not his fault that the kids are noticing that they are fighting (when he is just as much to blame), to saying he will be there for his son (not we will be there for our son) and then walking right past Julia after the spoke to Victor and not talking to her about what happened. At this point I do not want them together anymore, she deserves better that this version of Joel.
I felt bad for Victor, when he cried I did too. However it is not Julia's fault.
Now for Ryan, I really like Ryber and for 2 episodes we had Amber go head to head with her mom telling he she loves Ryan, wants to marry him and she would not turn out like her mom and their relationship would last. To now Ryan acting a little stand offish again. I can see his point in a way as I would have kept the ring as it was beautiful and his feelings were hurt when she basically said she did not like it. Well she said she did but Ryan took it as she did not like it. I can see Amber wanting some of that money for a house or something but like Ryan said there is time for all of that. Now in the preview he beats the crap out of some one! Not liking that as that will be the end of Ryber.
I admire Christina for not playing Bob's dirty game, she had Amber's permission to tell the story but she stuck to her morals. If that were me and it was real life, I do not think I could have done that, I would have revealed that story. As I expected Christina dropped in the polls. We will see if she wins next week.
Zeke misses Camille, I wonder if he will go see her. I love that all the kids came by to see him, even though we only saw Sarah. I did not like Sarah's tenant at first but I think I want them together.
Crosby as always was funny. I also like Adam's advice that your kids may not like what you like BUT as the parent you should take an interest in what they like.

Ronald simkins

Amber is Sarah Jr. both them are toxic with males. Ryan should totally dump her and find a non-neurotic female as far away from Lorelie/Sarah spawn as possible. And of course Drew is also the toxic fruit of the tree so I wish him luck.

@ isoron

Agreed that Joel is being too harsh on Julia. Not sure what's going on there, but I'm beginning to suspect that something may be happening between him and his boss, Mer. But I don't think Julia has no blame in the growing rift between her and Joel. She tried to put a guilt trip on him first by telling him that if had agreed to hold Victor back months earlier when she wanted to, it wouldn't be so traumatic for their son now. Also, she has been having what is very close to an emotional affair (and could become more soon) with Ed, and she knows it. Plus, she has been so frustrated by staying at home, yet she never seems to appreciate tha fact that Joel did it for a long time and it wasn't easy for him either. It's a mess and sadly, it looks like it's only going to get worse. Those two may be calling it quits soon. Then there's Zeke and Camille. It was very sad watching Camille practically jumping for joy when skyping with Zeke and clearly not missing him in the slightest. It must have been a real kick in the gut for him. He may as well just leave the divorce papers on the table for her to sign and move out before she gets back. And yet a third relationship appears to be about to be over - Amber and Ryan. I don't think there is even a slim chance that Amber will go through with the wedding, especially after seeing the previews of next week's epi. Those two are done as well. Last year, Parenthood was nothing short of inspirational.. This season is shaping up to just be as depressing as hell. I'm starting to dread watching every episode, which probably means I'll eventually won't.

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Parenthood Season 5 Episode 8 Quotes

You were the underdog! Now you're two points away!


Kristina: Are you sure it's just about the ring?
Amber: Yeah.
Kristina: Oh. OK.
Amber: Everything's fine, I just. Yeah.