Somewhere someone is doing something right when it comes to the show Parenthood. I squealed with excitement, muttered the word “What?” under my breath with shock, smiled with happiness, and cried my eyes out with uncontrollable emotion, all during this single 44-minute episode. Not sure if I should thank Patrick Norris who directed this particular episode, Jason Katims who wrote it, or the cast who brought the story alive; perhaps it was a collective effort. Regardless, this episode of Parenthood is bold, and appears to be both a turning point for the show’s storyline, as well as a major steppingstone for character development among many of the Braverman family members.
Finding a work life-family life balance is nearly impossible, and viewers get a glimpse here at how work can interfere with some of our other priorities. Work can be overwhelming to the point where you literally feel as if you’re being pushed over the edge, causing yourself to reach your breaking point. This seems to be the case with Julia and her job at the law firm. No one is superhuman, though many of us may try to be. Julia’s quest for perfection, along with her “I can do it all” mentality, becomes too much; a feeling many can probably relate to. She misses Sydeny’s recital, leaves Victor’s baseball game early, and hasn’t been able to fully tell Joel what’s been bothering her. Julia’s struggle is a great example of how work can cause us to worry: If I mess up I can lose my job, I need to please “the man,” I have deadlines which must be met, my mistakes could cause this company to fail, I could be the reason this company gets sued, I can’t focus on family because I need to do these assignments for work, etc. Julia’s struggle is also an example of how you have the power to change your own life: if you’re unhappy you can – and should – do something about it.
Work provides us with financial stability. However, when our family life changes our work paychecks don’t always change in the same fashion. Keeping a family together and raising children costs a whole lot of “cheddar,” and making that cheddar or asking for more can be difficult. Crosby understands, like many working individuals, that no one wants to have to live paycheck-to-paycheck. Work can also change our romantic relationships, as seen in Sarah’s ordeal with co-worker/boss Hank. When other options knock at your door, particularly options which may intrigue you, you might second guess personal decisions. Vulnerability is seen throughout this episode, and though many people may fear being vulnerable, it is sometimes when we learn the most about ourselves and those around us.
It has been said that “distance makes the heart grow fonder,” but sometimes distance is too much to handle. Haddie, much like Julia, cannot focus on her work because of what is happening at home. In Haddie’s case, it is learning her mother has cancer and feeling helpless because she I so far away from home. Ryan just came back from Afghanistan – he was removed from reality, physically and mentally, and is now struggling to readjust after being distant for some time: “I’m sick of people looking at me like I’m a veteran, like there’s something wrong with me, like its broken or something. I don’t want to be a veteran, I’m just Ryan.” No one is alone in this world, no matter how alone we may feel at times. Parenthood reminds us about caring and love, and how important it is to show you care about and love those who matter most in your life. Whether it is because these people are part of your family or because you want to be there to help these individuals through tough times, everyone deserves to have some kind of support system. Zeek takes Ryan under his wing, and the Braverman family comes together for Victor during his baseball game. The theme of caring through love comes full-circle when Kristina shares about her cancer diagnosis. It is so easy to let other things like work get in the way of being there for your family. Perhaps we just need to practice being present and remind ourselves to say “I love you” a little more often. We are only human, but we cannot lose track of what we value most.