Monday, March 25, 2013

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Parenthood Season 4, Episode 9 – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” [Original air date: Nov. 27, 2012]

If we always got what we wanted when we wanted it exactly how we wanted it, there would be very little reason for living. It is the fact that we do not always get what we want which allows us to grow both personally and professionally. This episode of Parenthood stands as a reminder that we become better and stronger individuals by not constantly getting what we want, but by working towards our goals and learning how to overcome the challenges and obstacles life may throw our way.

Time is precious, and it is true that anyone’s time can come to an end at any given moment. “I don’t know how much time there is, none of us do. I don’t want to miss out on any milestones,” Kristina says to Adam in regards to Max not wanting to attend the school dance. We do not want to live life being so cautious and worried we fail to enjoy ourselves, nor do we want to live life so on the edge we put ourselves at risk by making questionable and dangerous decisions, but we do want to live life to the fullest. It is cliché and rather unrealistic to say you should live every moment as if it is your last, but it is crucial to find out what in life is important to you and to live life with those aspects in mind.

Do you. We as humans strive to please everyone around us, but it is impossible to make everyone happy even if we wanted to. We may often find we overbook ourselves or stretch ourselves too thin. At some point we have to learn to say no. Sarah feels obligated to her boss Hank and she often gets guilt tripped by him and his messed up personal situations. She has a hard time letting anyone down, and by having that mentality it only seems she hurts others and lets herself down. Her Fiancé Mark accuses her of putting Hank before him. Still, Sarah, played by actress Lauren Graham, tries to get ahead while keeping it all together (a theme we are to see in Graham’s upcoming novel “Someday, Someday, Maybe,” being released April 30, 2013 – this book has been described as “witty, charming, and hilariously relatable” according to Amazon, much like Graham’s character Sarah in Parenthood).

Do not let yourself lose track of the fact that other people have feelings, wants, and desires too. Keeping other people in mind when making decisions can be difficult, but as Adam says, “It’s part of growing up: doing things for someone else; doing things for other people.” This theme is seen all over this particular episode, from Crosby being forced to see eye-to-eye with the “crazy homeowner lady” who moved in next door to the recording studio, to Julia struggling to accept Joel’s new job and he new role as a homemaker: Julia says, I’m ”overwhelmed or bored out of my mind. I’m not cut out for the stay-at-home mom thing and I’m not fulfilled by it.” Julia and Joel remind us how important it is to respect others. The writers of Parenthood left Julia’s storyline open with room for major potential character growth. Not everyone can accept free time, especially those who never had much free time to begin with. Julia does bring up a good point: life should be fulfilling; if it not, perhaps you should make the necessary changes in order to make it fulfilling.

Veterans have a hard time finding jobs after they get back from being overseas. Ryan’s employment situation shows this reality fairly well. There are certain questions applicants cannot be asked during a job interview such as one’s gender, age, religion, or sexuality. When the Ryan’s interviewer saw he had been in Afghanistan, Ryan was asked, “You were in Afghanistan? You ever kill anybody?” Questions like these may not be illegal to ask, but there has to be some kind of interview etiquette where people should know better than to ask such ignorant, personal, and physiologically damaging questions. While some scenes between Ryan and Amber have recently appeared forced and almost unnatural, Amber’s interaction with Zeek over her worry for Ryan came off as rather genuine. Zeek’s attitude towards what war does to those involved may have been the most real line in this episode: “War is a place where you lose who you are… and you are scared to death of what you might become.” This may also be true for situations outside of war, but it does give viewers a taste of what our military men and women are forced to deal with.

As we go through the motions and live life, it is easy to take the little things for granted. For example, at the end of this episode of Parenthood Kristina puts music on in the living room and attempts to teach Max how to dance. If we get so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life we may overlook the little things, or push them away all together. It is the little things that bring so much potential to what life can be; it would be a shame to not give them the time of day. We may not always get what we want, but in the words of Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, “If you try, sometimes you just might find, you get what you need."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

One More Weekend With You

Parenthood Season 4, Episode 8 – “One More Weekend With You” [Original air date: Nov. 20, 2012]

No one said life was going to be easy. Actually, if no one has told you before, let me be the first to tell you: life is a challenge, it is frustrating, and it is going to require a great deal of give and take. Just as Parenthood shows us, we often look to blame others for our downfalls. It frequently takes learning to accept people for who they are, and situations for how they are presented to us. The two golden words to keep in your back pocket and never be ashamed use: “I’m sorry.”

Too often people keep emotions bottled up inside. Eventually those emotions are going to surface and want to come out, but we cannot always control when this happens. We are only human, after all; we are far from perfect. Though we may think we can control everything, we cannot. Like mother, like daughter – Julia had a breakdown a few episodes ago, and it was time for Sydney to do the same. While Julia and Joel have been trying to support and encourage Victor ever since adopting him into the family, Sydney has felt rather neglected. Some reasons why prove to be out of Julia’s and Joel’s hands, but other time Sydney may have had a point, just going to show the hardships a family can face when expanding the family and adding new family members: “You are not my brother!” Sydney yelled at Victor as she threw a cup of water in his face at the diner. “In case you forgot, I was here first,” she said to her parents as she went to run away from home. We can almost all remember a time when we were younger and made a plan to run away from home for one reason or another.

There really is no good time for death to grace us with its presence. But when death does knock on our front door and we are forced to deal with it, how we deal with it can teach us a lot about our own character. When Ryan has to go to take a road trip to Bakersfield for his friend’s funeral it is obvious he is shaken up about the whole situation. Still, Amber continues to say all the right things at exactly the right time, as she asks if Ryan would like company: “I’d be nice to be together; if you wanted that I’m here.” We soon learn that Ryan’s friend Evan Williams, Private First Class soldier, someone Ryan considered a brother, did not die at war, but committed suicide after making it back to the states alive. Another one of Ryan’s service buddies called Evan’s actions the “coward’s way out,” causing Ryan and him to get into a physical fight. Viewer’s got a look at the side effects of PTSD and how real it actually is. It may be hard, but we need to remember that physical violence is never the answer. The beach scene at sunset between Ryan and Amber was a little cliché, but it gave a good message: life is worth living, so surround yourself with those you love and create your own happiness.

People have sex; it is simply a fact of life. It is usually during our teenage years when we first experiment with sex. This is usually a personal choice and everyone has different views when it comes it such topics. Abstinence can make us naive, so it is probably best to get educated before making any major life decisions. Though Mark was fairly awkward when he caught Drew and Amy in the act, he dealt with the situation like a professional: are you being smart? Are you wearing condoms? Is she on the pill? Do you know about STD’s? Let’s talk about responsibility. Though teenagers experimenting with sex can be scary, it is important to keep open communication about such life choices both with your partner, as well as with those who always have your back (i.e. parents). Sarah feels shut out of her son’s life, and that is a natural feeling, especially given the circumstances. Yet the conversation Mark and Sarah have about opportunity to get closer to Drew, trying to figure out their place in this family, and having a lack of experience, are healthy conversations for anyone to have, ones which should be seem more as a work in progress rather than a find the answers and move on kind of situation.

It has been said, if there were no rainy days we would fail to appreciate the sunny days. In similar thinking, we are able to enjoy happiness because we have been able to get through frustration and hardship. Fighting in a relationship is practically inevitable, and believe it or not it is rather healthy to work through problems and disagreements together. For example, Jasmine calls Crosby a freeloader while Crosby calls Jasmine a dictator as they fight over the cocktail and hor d'oeuvres party they were throwing. In the end though, through a little give and take, the two were able to make it through and understand each other’s differences. Being a support system for one another is important, and Adam and Kristina are the epitome of such a team. Adam is willing to try everything he can to help his wife through the hard times chemotherapy is giving their family. While their house becomes somewhat of a zoo, much like Grand Central Station during rush hour, Adam does his best to keep things under control. Kristina learns that you cannot always expect yourself to be the exception to the rule: “Thought I’d be the one person who wouldn’t get sick from chemo.” This mentality can be quite dangerous, especially when it comes to activates such as trying hard drugs, having unprotected sex, or being a reckless driver. Life is too precious to take such chances.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Parenthood Season 4, Episode 7 – “Together” [Original air date: Nov. 13, 2012]

As much as we sometimes want to forget about our pasts and only focus on our futures, every now and then bits of the past come back and collide with the present day. In this episode of Parenthood the time Ryan spent serving in Afghanistan is affecting his drive to find employment, as well as his ability to be open about his feelings in his new relationship with Amber. Victor’s past living arrangements appear to be holding him back from finding new friends and gaining social acceptance among his peers. Drew’s breakup with Amy earlier this season still has Drew in shambles, and his mom’s decision to have them move in with her fiancé, as well as Drew’s aunt being diagnosed with cancer, has only propelled Drew farther out of his comfort zone.

Frustration seems to be a main theme here, especially in regards to Kristina’s feelings about her cancer situation. No one really knows how to respond or react towards Kristina, so everyone wants to help or live in solidarity with her. However, the insistence on assisting is only making things harder and more overwhelming for the very person everyone seems to be trying to keep claim. How do people really deal with cancer, anyways? Cancer affects so many people, yet we all tend to feel some kind of aggravation, paranoia, and/or vulnerability. Kristina’s phone conversation with Adam really hits the head on the nail: “I feel like a prisoner in own home… I don’t like being taken care of… I feel helpless.” Kristina says she wishes things could just be normal again, but what exactly is normal? We don’t always get to choose what frustration or goodness or hardships get thrown our way. How we deal with it all is really a testament to our character. I can’t help but think of lyrics from Martina McBride’s song “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” when watching Kristina’s and Adam’s storyline unfold on screen: “
The doctor just confirmed her fears; Her husband held it in and held her tight; Cancer don’t discriminate or care if you’re just 38 with three kids who need you in their lives; He said, ‘I know that you’re afraid and I am, too. But you’ll never be alone, I promise you.’

This episode really speaks to the heart about not letting the handicaps society places on us keep us feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with life; life is too short not live everyday to the fullest. The writers of Parenthood tend to intertwine situations and ideas people face on a daily basis into the show. For example, in this episode viewers see the difficulty of searching for a job, the agony of feeling marginalized and excluded, and the awkwardness of romantic relationships and how they can wilt and die just as fast as they bud and blossom. In the end it is often the little things in life that mean the most or have the greatest impact. As humans we tend to take risks, want to try new things, and have the drive to learn more about ourselves and others. Watching Victor and Miguel speak Spanish while playing basketball inspires Julia to try and learn Spanish. Kristina is starting chemotherapy treatment in an effort to overcome the cancer which has infected her body. Ryan and Amber take their relationship to the next level, getting physical for the first time, but hint at the fact that sex changes everything. Zeek and Amy find out information they didn’t know earlier, which causes them to rethink the relationships they have with others. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to making it through life. Parenthood makes it clear that cookie cutter life expectations are a characteristic found more often in fairytales than reality.