Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Family Portrait

Parenthood Season 4, Episode 1 – “Family Portrait” [Original air date: Sept. 11, 2012]

The Braverman’s are arguably the modern-day Brady Bunch: all of those who are “part of the family” are not necessarily blood related, everyone in the show has his or her own storyline, and all of the storylines intertwine and connect through character development and learning-centered life experiences. The average American family no longer fits the picturesque mold of Leave It to Beaver. This may explain why Parenthood tackles issues many modern families face today, in an almost updated and more independent 7th Heaven manner.

Religion has always seemed to be somewhat of a grey area, whether referring to history books, friendly conversation, or families’ belief systems. What is significant and why it is significant when it comes to religion are practically unanswerable questions – or if they are answerable, answers vary depending on who is doing the answering. The notion of religion was subtle in this episode of Parenthood, but was present just enough to make a lasting impression. Crosby and Jasmine struggle with how to talk to their son Jabbar about realign: What is the right or proper way to raise your children when it comes to religion? This episode had its stereotypical grandparent versus parent tension over which religious doctrine(s) should be instilled in a child. Not only does this illustrate a generational gap, but it sheds light on the realistic issue many people face today: traditional versus progressive thinking. In a world obsessed with always being politically correct, perhaps a little tradition can do us some good. Yet a little self-exploration can never hurt; there is a possibility that religious beliefs are meant to be discovered rather than bestowed upon us.

With the state of our economy the way it is today, job hunting might currently be the most stressful and discouraging task out there. Searching for a job may as well be the headlining joke for stand-up comedians from coast-to-coast. Lying about your work experience is never wise, but whose fault is it if you get hired after stating such lies if you are never interviewed and the person hiring you never does a screening or background check before offering you the position? The way Sarah obtains a photography job in this episode is rather unrealistic. Still, it points out that a good work-relationship has one worker handling the managerial aspects of the job while his/her colleague acts as the people-person in charge of schmoozing customers. Also in this episode, and related to the work environment, is the often hard to balance aspects of our personal versus professional lives. Viewers saw how Peter treated the band at the recording studio after the lead singer “used” Amber. Where do we draw the line and choose what in our personal lives can and cannot acceptably affect our professional lives? Though these are supposed to be mutually exclusive categories, our emotions have a way of crossing the line – regardless of where it is drawn – bridging the two sides together, whether for the better or worse.

Parenthood continuously finds a way to bring its messages back to the idea of family. Joel and Julia appear to struggle with integrating their adopted son Victor into their family: you must love and trust people rather than treat them like a guest if you want them to feel accepted. The main family aspect of this episode however, was seen through Haddie’s storyline. Haddie’s character comes off as rather fake and selfish at first, but it is quickly realized that she is dealing with a lot. Her emotional outreach, though it may seem forced at times, is actually quite genuine and real given the circumstances. Haddie manages to turn a negative into a positive, stating that she admires her brother Max’s honesty and ability to say what he thinks and knows even though this is a side effect of his Asperger Syndrome. Parenthood is filled with family hardships, such as having to say goodbye to your oldest child as you send her off to college. However crazy one’s family may seem viewers should all be in agreement that family is irreplaceable.

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