Parenthood Review: Sydney Has a Point

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It's not easy watching kids get the shaft on television, but when a series is called Parenthood, there are bound to be times when parents don't get the job done right. 

Some mistakes that have been building came to an explosive point in Parenthood Season 5 Episode 18. From a parenting standpoint, it deals with Kristina and Adam and their sheltering of Max, as well as Joel and Julia and the way Victor was integrated into their family.

Before digging into those meaty topics, let's hit upon the offer on the homestead, Amber and Drew and Sarah leading Hank on.

Zeek and Camille got a great offer on the house before it was even on the market. That's everyone's dream, isn't it? That someday you'll consider selling your house and someone will be strolling through your neighborhood and just want to put in an offer?

It happened to Zeek and Millie, but since it came so quickly and was under asking (even thought it was all cash), they decided to hold out for a few more months until Crosby was settled, the car was fixed and other excuses they were using to put off the sale. 

Then the couple countered their refusal with an offer over asking, making it the largest sum ever offered for a home in their neighborhood. Zeek and Camille have a lot to think about, but it seemed like the steadfast Millie was starting to waver the closer selling her home of 44 years came to reality. We'll have to wait and see!

Drew was staying away from school because he didn't want to see Natalie or Dorky (or whatever his name is) and was also sad about Amy. He just wanted to write songs and get high. Amber tried to do the sisterly thing and give him some advice, but in the end she just decided to sing with him. A really long song. Like too long for the show long. It was a little awkward.

Hank finally had the guts to tell Sarah that he didn't think it was cool that she kept coming to him when there's a Braverman on every corner and yes, she is sending him mixed signals. Although she has told him prior to that she only wanted to be friends, after he shared his feelings she didn't really have a follow up. She's not a very nice person when it comes to men and it's difficult to understand why so many seem to fall for her.

Onto the real meat of the hour. The poor parenting skills or overindulgence or my inability to understand how to properly raise children in a world full of creeps. Because let's be honest, there are a lot of jerks in this world and the best thing parents can do is prepare their kids for them. It's unfortunate but we all know they're out there.

Sarah might have angered Kristina and Adam by pointing out that Max didn't seem to understand the word no, but kids hate him. Yes, he is a bit weird, but would he be so adamant all the time if he wasn't always told to express himself when and where he wanted to? It doesn't seem as though he has been taught the appropriate ways to communicate in a world where kids are going to be jerks. 

We can't teach other kids not to be jerks, we can only teach responses to the jerks. That's just the way it is. 

Someone peeing in Max's canteen is heartbreaking. But it's not something special because he has Asperger's. That can happen to a kid with buck teeth, pimples, a lisp -- any number of things. It hurts and it's horrible that kids have to be strong to get through childhood, but they'll be the winners when they're older. Take it from the girl who was stapled in the back in 5th grade. Not cool.

Then we have Joel and Julia and their situation that has cascaded onto Sydney and Victor. Sydney got upset about Victor and said it was his fault that her parents were split, and it's difficult to blame her. The problems did start about the time Victor came into their lives. Way back then it seemed as though they were jumping through hoops to make Victor feel welcome while ignoring how it made Sydney feel.

Joel, in particular, discovered an affinity with a son that he didn't have with a daughter and formed a special bond. Whether it was intended to be written in that way or not, it came across that way and it was brought to light again when Joel broke his own rule about not making solitary decisions by purchasing Victor a cell phone to make him feel safe when just a week ago he was angry at Julia for promising Sydney she could sleep at her mom's for the same reason.

By comparison, Julia telling Sydney she could just sleep at home with her jammies was a relatively small decision, but one that made Joel very angry and he had no problem telling Sydney it wasn't going to happen. When faced with an issue of his own making, he immediately caved and made a huge decision; one that left out his daughter if you look at equality issues.

Sadly, Victor is caught in the middle thinking he is the cause for his new parents living separately. There is so much anxiety in that family right now it's amazing they're handling things as well as they are.

You will have a lot to say about Max from both sides of the issue and a lot to say about Sydney and Victor. Hit the comments. Play nice. These are really difficult topics and there are no right answers, just conversation.

To find out how all of these relationships have gotten here, you can watch Parenthood online to put the pieces together.

Do you think Joel has a soft spot for Victor over Sydney?


Editor Rating: 3.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.6 / 5.0 (31 Votes)

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


Does anyone else hate how bratty Sydney is? I want to reach through my TV and smack her. She has no respect for anyone and when told no she starts arguing and screaming.


One Reason this show is so great is that its not one sided. I feel a lot of shows operate like pro wrestling where characters just turn heel for no reason. Where they would just become a holes out of nowhere so the audience has to dislike them. I think the way they handled Joel and Julia's marriage has been brilliant. I have seen dissension between them since last season. I really do think Victor has been the main reason of their marriage troubles. Last season there was a lot of tension between Joel and Julia because Julia was not on board with adopting Victor 100%. Joel saw him as a son and Julia didn't especially after he broke the window and scared Sydney. I have an adopted brother and my parents have gone through that where the mother is closer to the children that are biologically hers and that causes problems. And then they were brought up again when they wanted to hold Victor back and Julia was on board with that the entire time and Joel seemed to care about Victor's feelings more than Julia did and that was another one of their major fights. Also for Sydney to be so smart she should have known not to say something like that to Victor. Adopted kids #1 fear is abandonment and not belonging and that becomes a huge problem for a significant part of their life. That's why I understand why Joel gave him the phone he was wrong to and should have just given the I'll always love you speech that he did at the end but he knew how big of an issue that is for Victor and he acted impulsively. Sydney's Pj's problem wasn't even close to the same thing. Also the show has shown how infidelity can kind of be justified. It's still wrong but you understand it and is something you wonder as a kid why your parents would do something like this. But with the fighting at home, and meeting someone new who was going through similar things it gives you a new perspective on the difficulties of marriage. The Julia and Ed thing moved so slow and perfectly that I think some of the audience was probably rooting for them at some point. But there are a lot of reasons to be on Julia's side she gets more camera time, we understand why she did what she did and we know she still loves joel and joel has been extremely tough on her even before the separation. But I think a lot of people are against Joel this season but I still remember the rest of the seasons. I think Joel was the nicest character in the show in the first 4 seasons. He didn't work and never resented Julia for being the breadwinner. He did all of Sydney's school stuff with a smile on his face. He never really got mad. But when he gets the big construction job and julia is the housewife its obvious she is more jealous than excited. And I think that was a major friction for them that Julia just couldn't be a housewife and she was telling him what he should do on his job and getting mad if he didn't listen to her. And then while he is frustrated and mad all day hes still wondering how to fix his marriage while Julia is frustrated but decided to go to another man for comfort. Like how he came home early and made dinner but no one was hungry because Julia was flirting and eating dinner at Ed's house. Joel probably knows that Ed was the one who kissed Julia but why are you over his house when you know hes vulnerable you probably knew what could have happened. But Like i said I can see both sides and they are both two of my favorite characters. I did not mean to write this much and no ones probably going to read this. But I have to have a short comment on the max thing. I think Kristina is too overprotective but I understand why she is. There are normal mothers who are too overprotective but a kid who has the problems that max has your going to worry exponentially more. And I'm not blaming Adam and Kristina for kids acting like jerks. I don't think its right to give partial blame to kids or parents for not being taught or being strong enough of how to do deal/ignore bullies. Especially in max circumstances when he doesn't understand when he is getting bullied or why he is getting bullied how would you prepare him for that. I thought that car scene was one of the best scenes of this season. Great Review by the way just had some respectful disagreements.


I think Joel is so emotionally dead at the moment that he has become permanently indecisive. He's just a walking drone. Him and Julia need to have a real one-to-one. No kids, no distractions, and make an honest decision. Joel shouldn't have to stay in the marriage, but limbo is the worse place to be, especially for the kids.


The Boring:
Camille and Zeke: They're storyline has gotten so boring. Sell the house we love or stay and die in it. It's emotional, but not unique or interesting. Crosby and Jasmine: They need a storyline. I guess there isn't too much to write about when they are married with young kids and Crosby and Adam's studio is no longer newsworthy. Joel and Julia: I think they need to spice this one up too. We get what's going on at this point. There needs to be a bombshell dropped here. Instead, Julia just keeps acting bratty and Joel acts like he's on downers. Sarah and Hank: Same old stuff...just get back together already. The Weird:
Amber and Drew: Is it just me, or do Drew and Amber seem attracted to each other? All of their scenes have become unsettling. Plus Amber's reaction to Drew's ridiculously petty and common college problem was so pathetic. Side note: How does Amber make money? The GREAT:
Max, Adam, and Kristina: That car ride might have been the best episode of TV in some time. They displayed the horridness of some teenager's actions, the vulnerability of Max, and the vulnerability of Adam and Kristina, who realize that, despite wanting to snap necks, they can't. All three of these actors are unreal, and the show does a great job of showing Max emerging into a confident young adult and also reminding of his weaknesses. It's sad in life that some of the most crippling handicaps cannot be seen, which is why kids like Max have the toughest time.


As a parent of a child on the spectrum like Max, I need to provide some context to Max..
He hasn't been being told to "express yourself" at all times. He lacks a *neurological foundation* for that type of situation, considering context of a thought or feeling and its effect on others.
Max wasn't diagnosed until age 9 - far later than the typical age of 3 - which means that the therapies that help some autistic kids "rewire" their brains prior to age 5 didn't happen. All spectrum kids have varying degrees of symptoms and issues, but what they DO all have in common is that certain things (like the ability to understand that your words and behaviors affect others - again, neurological) need to be expressly taught, like learning how to write code or do accounting or surgery. Many do learn those skills and adapt well; others have a tougher time. However, Kristina and Adam are sheltering him. He cannot learn those skills without the opportunity to practice them. But it is HARD. REALLY, REALLY HARD. doing everything you are supposed to do is exhaustive, and that's still assuming that you have any idea where to start. So, yes, they need to work on him for those skills, but cut them all a little slack. Max is not the way he is because his parents don't tell him no or he is told to "express himself". As a side note, this is the only place I have seen people whine about episodes focusing on Max. Everything else I have ever seen comments on how incredibly accurate and compelling his portrayal is (I started watching before my son was born, and thought he was so good that I incorrectly assumed that the actor must be Aspie). Wasn't all about him, lots went on. He is a part of the family after all.


I maybe crazy and alone on this but after rewatching last nights show,I find myself wondering , is Julia already having an afair with Ed?
We saw the "it's only dinner date " 2 weeks ago. Don't know what happened there. The teacher / Julia confortation about gossip and rumors about "him" and then the several missed phone call's with only text replay an hour later. Just wondering what she might be doing?

@ reality adictt

You make a really good case but Parenthood usually doesn't have things happen without telling the viewers but you have me wondering also.

@ reality adictt

Wow. Now you have me wondering.


I don't think Joel has a soft spot for Victor, he just felt very guilty for mixing up the schedule and so to "save" the situation he gave him the phone, putting Julia in a very complicated situation. Sarah...well...actually for once, I don't think she is giving Hank mixed signals, why? just because she is freaking out for the job and she is seeking advice from him since he is has more experience in dealing with this situation?! yeah, she has been hanging out with him quite a while, but honestly, I do not misinterpret that. even the hug at the end...I mean it could happen between co-workers! About Max, I agree with the review, I didn't have any medical conditions, but I was most certainly bullied at, no matter what kind of teenager Max is, the parents should teach him how to deal with this and stop intervening to protect him... Why on earth is Natalie still around??? Drew get some balls, and tell her to knock it off!!


I think that Max's situation ought to be examined from both angles. On one hand, Max absolutely needs to understand how to manage social situations more effectively. At the same time, kids can be taught (and need to learn), compassion. Acceptance is, and should be, a two way process, not the responsibility of a lone individual or group.


Yet anotherrrrrr episode about Max. Seriously, why does every and I mean every episode have to be about him? I used to like this show but now I actually literally cringe when he and his parents are on the screen. So true about the "buddy" comment. Honestly, I think that I'm going to find something else to watch. Just can't take another episode about Max.


Oh yeah. The girl who plays Sydney excels at being able to cry and pout on cue. And it seems like the producers are milking this for all it's worth. Seems like she throws a fit weekly.

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Parenthood Season 5 Episode 18 Quotes

Joel: You should have just seen him, Julia, he's melting down in front of me and I feel like all these abandonment issues are coming back and...
Julia: Because you moved out.

Alright, I'm sad. I'm sad about Amy and I want to smoke week and write bad songs.