I don’t often have the time or opportunity to watch tv shows during the regular season. Even if I schedule the DVR to record each weekly episode, getting the chance to sit down and catch up is a rare treat.
So I usually end up “discovering” new-to-me shows on Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon.
Last month I decided to start Season 1 of Parenthood (all three finished seasons are available for free with Prime; episodes of the new season are available a day later on Hulu Plus). At first, I found the show very charming. I really love some of the actors (Monica Potter and Peter Krause are standouts), the soundtrack is cool, the writing is pretty good. I mentioned on Facebook that I was starting the show, and friends came out in droves to gush about their love for Parenthood. It looked like I was in good company!
But after just a few episodes of Season 1, something started getting under my skin: the characters talk over each other all.the.time. It’s like a study in How Not To Communicate. At first, I let it slide. Then it just got to be too much, and almost a cliche. We get it, they’re a lively, passionate bunch. But it also comes off to me as really disrespectful.
Yes, I know they’re a big family. I am one of 4, my husband is one of 8. I myself have 5 kids. I get it: big families are loud. But that doesn’t mean you can’t afford each other a little respect and maybe listen to each other talking. And it’s not just with family that the characters in Parenthood behave like this – it seems with all of their interactions, the communication seems to be more about formulating your answer while the other is talking, then either interrupting, or coming back with a quick, witty response. In that way, I feel like the writing and acting are hogging all of the attention away from the actual story. It’s like “our writers are awesome!” and “our actors are so impassioned!” and then I’m left sifting for the actual heart of what is going on.
I also have issues with the often shrug-shouldered, impotent approach to parenting teens. In some respects, I feel the show takes the easy, well-traveled road of “kids will be kids” and “teenagers are a nightmare” and “whaddya gonna do?” when it comes to parenting. I’ve worked hard to not buy into those philosophies in raising my own kids, and get impatient watching it depicted in any show (no matter how popular it is).
I finished Season 1 of Parenthood and got a few episodes into Season 2 before I just couldn’t watch it anymore. Many people declare this show to be the closest thing to depicting how a “real” American family lives. Ok, I can see that. People also confess openly that they cry at every episode; I can see that, too. And I actually love the entire story line with Max and understand how special needs families and activists have applauded this show. I think Parenthood definitely has value, but I just can’t handle watching it anymore.
**UPDATE (added 1/20/13): Watching all the talk about Kristina’s cancer story this season, I decided to give Parenthood another try. I’m still not impressed. They continue to talk over each other, and it’s just become more gimmick-y than ever. I’m also frustrated by the lack of respect couples show to each other in this show. Excluding Adam and Kristina, everyone else is a mess. Jasmine belittles and emasculates Crosby at every turn. Sarah acts like an idiot and completely blows things with Mark (and over HANK, no less?!?). Even Joel – who I typically like – completely invalidates the seriousness of what Julia is going through with Victor’s treatment and rejection of her. I understand that writers want to make characters vulnerable, but they are becoming downright unlikable to me.**
And, when you get right down to it, television is such a luxury – we each have a million choices in how we spend our time, and if we decide to spend some of that watching a fictional show, I think it should be something we feel really good about (which is Modern Family for me!).
So…based on my Facebook feed – and the internet at large – I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who doesn’t love Parenthood, but tell me: