Parenthood Owes Me Money For Tissues

Tomorrow marks the end of an era. After six seasons, our beloved Parenthood comes to an end. It’s been a rocky road over the past few years, and I’m not just talking about the fact that it could’ve been cancelled by NBC at any given second. No, I’m talking about the literal ups and downs this show has taken us in just this little sliver of a peek into the Braverman family history.

“When are we going to know? I need to get off this roller coaster.” – Sarah Braverman having a meta moment while talking about Joel and Julia’s relationship status

Creator Jason Katims has nailed down the subgenre of “Shows That Make You Super Emotional And Attached To Fictional Characters In An Unreasonable Way”, and this is no different. You’ve witnessed it in Friday Night Lights, and you’ve witnessed it with Parenthood. I mean, this guy fucks with your heart so much that it should probably be a crime by now (An example taken from the series finale, which is aptly titled “May God Bless and Keep You Always,” a lyric from Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” the show’s theme song. LIKE CAN U NOT).

In saying that, Parenthood is known for its emotional storylines. It’s known for eliciting an unexpected and unmentionable amount of tears. When I went to the PaleyFest panel for the show a couple of years ago, they actually handed out packets of tissues with the Parenthood logo on them. That’s how synonymous crying is with this damn show. Every week, there’s at least one emotional scene where you find yourself with tears in your eyes. Because I’m a crier by nature, this stat is higher for me.

“I think that Parenthood is a good litmus test to see if you’re emotionally okay. If you tune in… and you don’t laugh a little bit, and cry a little bit, you might be a sociopath. You might need professional help.” – Peter Krause on the psychological impact of the show.

And while there have been many scenes that have made our eyes well up, I’ve picked my personal favorites that make me cry just thinking about them. I’m sure the entirety of the series finale will be added to this list, but for now, let’s focus on the magic moments from the past six seasons that will stay in our hearts forever. Like Dawson Leery before her, this is ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 Crying Ambers, 1 being a little tear up in the eyeball region, while 5 is straight up ugly cry pray to Jesus that no one ever sees you.

Thank you Parenthood. We laughed, we cried, we learned more about ourselves. But mostly we cried. So thank you.

*possible spoilers ahead if you’re not caught up. in chronological order! and a lot of mae whitman because she’s the best crier in the world*

Season 2, Episode 17: Amber yells at Seth

1 Crying Amber

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Seth comes back and tries to assimilate back into the family in a totally normal way as if nothing’s wrong and he hasn’t been absent from the kids’ lives, but Amber totally calls him out on it, and you can tell she’s letting out years of frustration in one fell swoop.

 Season 2, Episode 22: Zeek confronts Amber after she gets in a car accident

5 Crying Ambersamber crying 5

Amber’s lowest point comes when she spirals into a drunken depression and gets into a super bad car accident. Luckily she survives and has to face the wrath of Zeek Braverman. He brings her to the junkyard where her totaled car is, and says a line that marked the first time I had really broke down and ugly cried while watching the show:

“I dreamt you, Amber. You do not have permission to mess with my dreams.”

Turns out that the brilliant Craig T. Nelson rewrote that speech on the spot and Mae had no idea what he was going to say. They did it in one take, and that’s the take they used.

Season 3, Episode 4: Alex says a final goodbye to Kristina

4 Crying Ambers

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Haddie’s first real boyfriend, Alex (played by the smokeshow that is Michael B. Jordan), is, on paper, the total opposite from Haddie. When their differences become too glaringly incompatible, he breaks up with her. But when he says goodbye to Kristina, you realize that Alex needed to be a part of this family as much as Haddie needed to love and lose the first boy that completely changed her world. And the Bravermans changed his world too.

Season 3, Episode 17: Julia realizes Zoe isn’t giving her the baby to adopt

5 Crying Ambers

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Despite being all, ‘hey if you’re not using that baby’, and Zoe ‘agreeing’ to give Joel and Julia her kid, Zoe changes her mind at the last minute to raise the child by herself. The moment where Julia realizes the time and effort and heart she’s put into the baby she thought would soon be hers, wouldn’t be going home with her – Julia shatters into a million pieces.

Season 4, Episode 1: Haddie leaves for college

4 Crying Ambers

amber crying 4Before all this Kristina stuff goes on, she and Adam send their first born off to college, thousands of miles away from Berkley to Cornell in upstate New York. A lot of us can relate to this, which is why this scene is so important. So when she says goodbye to her family, she knows it’s the end of an era, and things will never be exactly the same again.

Season 4, Episode 5: Adam talks to Haddie about Kristina’s diagnosis

3 Crying Ambers
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Woof. The whole Krisina cancer storyline is a doozy, but the beginning of the arc brings a lot of tears. From Kristina silently confirming to Adam she has cancer, to this scene where Adam has no choice to talk about her diagnosis with his college-aged daughter, these scenes were always hard to take. But the great thing to take away is that Peter Krause is such an incredible actor. In just this phone conversation alone he perfectly portrays a man who is just trying to keep it together.

Season 4, Episode 5: Kristina tells the family she has cancer

5 Crying Ambers

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This is perhaps the most memorable scene in the entire series. Everything about it is perfect. The family is all gathered and Kristina finally has to tell them she has cancer. It starts with us hearing her say, ‘I have something to tell you’, and the sound goes out. The camera pans to all the family members, and because each actor knows their character so well, they each respond to the news differently. I think my favorite is when the camera goes to Crosby, and he looks like he’s in shock, mainly because he had been giving Adam a hard time about the business, and now he realizes how much of an ass he’s been while he’s been dealing with Kristina’s diagnosis. And he does it in one single stare.

Season 4, Episode 11: Adam watches the video Kristina made in case she dies

5 Crying Ambers

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Kristina suffers a setback in her cancer battle, and in the event something went awry, she decides to make a video for her family. The result is another brilliant scene from Peter Krause, but also one that will tear you to bits.

Season 4, Episode 14: Crosby consoles Julia about adopting Victor

2 Crying Ambers

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For some reason, Crosby and Julia never get a lot of screentime with just the two of them. But this scene features the two babies of the family, with the usually unreliable black sheep of the family, Crosby, assuring smart, perfect lawyer Julia that she’s a better mom than she thinks she is, and that he’s admired her strength for years.

Season 4, Episode 13: Drew comes crying to Sarah after Amy’s abortion

3 Crying Ambers

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After Drew’s girlfriend Amy finally decides to get an abortion, we see Drew having a really hard time coping with it, and he finally lets it all out by just going to Sarah’s house and sobbing in her arms. It’s a realization that while he may not have been ready to be a father, there was still a part of him that thought he could.

Season 4, Episode 15: Joel and Julia officially adopt Victor

4 Crying Ambers

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This is the scene that makes you want to become a Braverman.

“Beautiful family you have.” – Judge

“They’re something aren’t they?” – Zeek Braverman

*Didn’t realize this until I rewatched the clip, but the judge is totally the guy who played the Stars Hollow Rabbi in Gilmore Girls.

Season 5, Episode 10: Ryan tells Amber he’s re-enlisting

3 Crying Ambers

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 Literally as soon as Ryan gets back from duty, he asks Amber to marry her. But after a while, his demons get the best of him, and instead of facing real life and a future with Amber, he decides to re-enlist instead, leaving an extremely stunned Amber speechless and beyond mad, and Ryan numbed from the pain.

Season 5, Episode 18: Kristina comforts Max when he realizes he’s different

5 Crying Ambers

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Max realizes that kids treat him differently because of his Aspberger’s, but doesn’t comprehend why they’re treating him like crap. But the heartbreaking part of this scene is seeing Kristina and Adam, who are not only unable to properly give Max an acceptable reason, but are so frustrated that there’s not much they can do to change it.

Season 5, Episode 21: Kristina says goodbye to Gypsy

4 Crying Ambers

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I know her name on the show is Gwen, but she will forever by Gypsy from Gilmore Girls. Anyways, Kristina became friends with Gwen while they were both receiving chemo treatments, and because Parenthood isn’t one to ignore what happens in real life, Kristina has to give one (teary) final goodbye to her friend, who is nearing the end of a losing battle with cancer.

Season 5, Episode 22: Zeek and Camille slow dancing in the empty house

3 Crying Ambers
amber crying 3

It took some cajoling, but Zeek and Camille finally sold their iconic house. And while we’ve been with that home for five seasons, Zeek and Camille had been its occupants for decades as they raised their kids and grandkids. One of the final shots in the house is the outline of the two heads of the Braverman clan slow dancing in an empty room, acknowledging both the good times that happened there, and the new memories they’ll make in their new home.

Season 6, Episode 10: THE ENTIRE EPISODE

10 Crying Ambers

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WHERE TO FREAKING BEGIN. The entire opening slow-motion montage of all the kids getting the call Zeek was in the hospital (gave me goosebumps). Drew crying in the car after it wouldn’t start. Julia calling Joel her ‘husband’, the makeshift baby shower for Amber where the women give her advice? Honestly cried through 90% of that episode. It was one of the roughest hours of television, ever.

Season 6, Episode 12: Amber names her son Zeek

3 Crying Ambers
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IT’S A FULL CIRCLE, Y’ALL. SHE DIDN’T MESS WITH GRANDPA ZEEK’S DREAMS.

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Show You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: About A Boy

Well, we’ve reached the halfway point in the TV season, and it’s when networks usually introduce new shows to replace the sucky ones they cancelled. One of the standout shows from this bunch of mid-season replacements is NBC’s About a Boy.

The show premiered after the Olympics, which is a tactic that NBC has devised before – they did it with Go On last year, which unfortunately was cancelled after one season. To prevent About a Boy receiving the same fate, how about we all give this show a try and keep it on the air for just a little longer.

Storyline

“Successful songwriter and bachelor Will Freeman lives a carefree life as the “ultimate man-child”. His perfect world is turned upside down when single mom Fiona and her 11-year-old son Marcus move in next door.” It’s also worth noting that if this title sounds familiar, it’s because it was based on the 2002 movie with Hugh Grant, which was based on the 1998 novel by Nick Hornby.

Reasons Why You Should Watch

Jason Katims

Damnit Katims, you did it again. Producer/Writer/Director extraordinaire, Jason has created some of the best (and also some of my favorite) shows over the past few years, including Friday Night Lights and Parenthood. Jason has a way of creating characters you care deeply about, scenarios that could actually happen in real-life, moments of hilarity and of course moments of non-stop crying. That’s what makes each of his shows so special there’s a quality that you can feel from the pilot – it has heart. That’s surprisingly hard to come by in television these days, but thanks to Katims, I can count on his shows to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside while still wiping away tears from my face. About a Boy is no different. Will and Marcus form a quick bond throughout the 22 minute pilot, but you can tell that they’re changing each others’ lives in such a short amount of time already. Whether you’re an 11 year old kid who’s new in town or a loser of a guy in his 30s, the show seeks to prove that your life can change when you least expect it, when you don’t think you want it to and in the unlikeliest of places – but you wouldn’t want it any other way.

The Boy

Benjamin Stockham plays young Marcus, a delightful young boy who, along with his mom played by Minnie Driver, move to San Francisco right next door to Will. Minnie’s a vegan hippie sort and Will, a meat-eater, is just trying to fit in at school. But le tme tell you, this kid’s acting and comedic timing is off the chain. He’s only 13 years old, but could easily be 40 if you told me he was. He’s not one of those annoying kids you see on TV (or in real life), he’s someone you want to cheer for and possibly hug whenever you get a chance. I also had to look up his past credits and guess what – he was in the gone-too-soon comedy, 1600 Penn alongside Josh Gag, Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman. And he was great it that too, but 10 times better in this.

Potential guest stars and crossovers

Parenthood is where this whole crossover thing took it to the next level. Katims was all, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and hire the same actors from my Emmy award-winning show to be on my new show.’ So you know, he made his calls and throughout the course of all the five seasons, FNL stars like Minka Kelly, Michael B. Jordan, Matt Lauria, Jurnee Smollett and Derek Phillips have all been on the show (not to mention Jesse Plemmons’ return as Landry on this FNL/Parenthood crossover that blew my mind). That being said, it’s inevitable to have FNL and/or Parenthood folks on About a Boy. Case in point: it has already been announced that Adrienne Palicki (good old Tyra on FNL) will have an arc on the show as one of Will’s love interests. Plus, David Walton (Will) has already been in a recent episode of Parenthood as one of Crosby’s (Dax Shepard) poker buddies. It helps that both shows take place in the bay area, because Crosby’s going to be in an ep of About a Boy too. TV nerds celebrate the crossover magic!

No book, No movie, no problem

As I previously mentioned, About a Boy is based on a book which was based on a movie. Now if anyone’s up for the task of adapting something that’s already been adapted before, it’s Jason Katims. He did it with both FNL and Parenthood, but managed to keep the story going on season after season. In the pilot of About a Boy, fans familiar with the book and movie will find it similar to what they already know about the story. Will and Fiona (Minnie Driver) immediately hate each other, he has a lot of women coming in and out of his boudoir, and there’s even a big talent show featuring Marcus at the end. But that’s it. You don’t need to have seen the movie or read the book in order to enjoy the show. I’ve only seen the movie and I saw it around the time it first came out, so I clearly have no recollection of anything that happened, besides the fact that Hugh Grant befriended Nicholas Hoult aka Mr. Jennifer Lawrence. So no need to fret if you’re unfamiliar. You’ll fall in love with these characters and will be genuinely interested in their lives as the series goes on, and you’ll completely forget it was based on something else in the first place.

About a Boy is on NBC, Tuesdays @ 9:00pm

Watch the pilot here!

Kleenex Owes Michael B. Jordan A Lot of Money

If you don’t know who the guy above is, you need to reevaluate your life choices (and also reference my HBM post from a while ago). Michael B. Jordan has been in a bunch of critically and fan acclaimed TV series and movies, but for some reason has never received the true recognition that he deserves. In fact, he’s been acting since he was 12 years old, and managed to be one of the few child actors who has not only been successful, but hasn’t gone down the Lindsay Lohan/Amanda Bynes route.

Michael has especially proven he’s at his best when it comes to dramas, pulling out performances that tug at your heartstrings to the point where you’ll cry until you’re out of tears and then you remember that one scene and you cry all over again. Of course, it’s a testament to the projects he chooses to do and the writing of said projects, but really, it takes a special kind of actor to make you weep uncontrollably. Here are a few of my favorite performances by MBJ that have made be question my sanity after shedding so many tears for fictional characters (save Fruitvale Station).

The Wire

I just started watching The Wire a few weeks ago, and unfortunately knew the outcome of Michael’s character, Wallace (obvs, spoiler alert). Michael was just 15 years old when played a smart kid who ended up on ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ in season one. Wallace spent his days as a drug dealer in the low-income projects in Baltimore, but you could tell he had a heart, especially when he was taking care of the younger kids in the community. He tried to leave the dangerous world behind and even gave the police details about the drug organization, but once the leaders found out about his snitching, they ordered Wallace’s friends to kill him. What’s so heartbreaking about this is not just the fact that he died, but that he had so much potential. Michael played him with so much hope, so much desire to want to be better, and the last few moments of his life live on much longer than his 12 short episodes on the series.

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights was the program that introduced me to this gem of a man. Although Michael joined the cast for the last two seasons, he made a huge impact on the show when the characters’ (and fans’) loyalties switched from the Dillion Panthers to the East Dillon Lions. When Coach Taylor  moved from a school with literally the best football team in the state to a school with no football team at all, he had to scramble to put together a group of guys who not only could play the damn sport, but wanted to do it in the first place. Someone who kind of involuntarily became the star quarterback player was Michael’s character Vince Howard. He was at his last straw with the law, and in exchange for not locking him up in jail, he promised Coach he’d play for the Lions.  While Vince’s father was off in jail and his mom a drug addict, he had no real parental supervision or role models to look up to – until Coach came along. Eric Taylor may have been a father figure to a lot of his players, but none more so than to Vince. In this scene in the fifth season, Vince is feeling a lot of pressure to essentially, be an adult. Coach, with his infinite wisdom, helps him out.

Eric Taylor: I first met you, you were climbing out of a police car. People said you were a punk, you’d never last in the field. You know they still believe that?

Vince Howard: Screw them. I work hard for everything I’ve got!

Eric Taylor: I know you do and you ought to be damned proud about that. I am. I’m proud of you. Your teammates are proud of you. It’s about character. It’s about striving to be better than everybody else.

Vince Howard: Coach, my dad just got out of prison. He’s staying with me in my house… and I can’t stand him. My mom, she asked me to forgive him. To be ‘better’. And you’re asking me to be ‘better’. I don’t know how to be ‘better’ because he never taught me how! He never taught me how to be ‘better’! He’s not around!

Vince Howard: And I’m supposed to be ‘better’ than them? I’m supposed to be ‘better’?

Eric Taylor: Listen to me. I said you need to strive to better than everyone else. I didn’t say you needed to be better than everyone else. But you gotta try. That’s what character is. It’s in the try.

Parenthood

Because it’s hard to turn down Jason Katims and also because Jason Katims is one of the greatest TV writers ever, Michael had a fantastic arc on Parenthood as Alex, the troubled teen turned responsible adult who dated Haddie and her horrible hair. I like to think that in some weird Katims universe, Alex is just a grown up version of Vince Howard. Alex is a recovering alcoholic who emancipated himself from his parents when he was 16 (the age of Haddie when they start dating), but now runs a local homeless shelter. Naturally, Haddie’s parents aren’t too excited about Haddie dating a 19 year old who attends AA and has his own apartment, but they come to love him as much as Haddie loves him. Alas, their course as a couple ran out, and surprisingly, it wasn’t their breakup that brought tears to everyone’s eyes – it was his breakup with Haddie’s mom, Kristina (played by the Emmy-snubbed Monica Potter) that felt like we were simultaneously breaking up with him too.

Alex: I just want to say I’m sorry for bringing you guys into my mess. I really regret that, Mrs. Braverman. I really do. I know that when we first started dating I wasn’t exactly what you guys expected.

Kristina: We’ve gotten past all that stuff. You’re like our family.

Alex: I know you probably already know this but you’re a really good mom. I lost mine a  long time ago, and I feel really lucky to have gotten to know you, Mrs. Braverman.

Kristina: You’re a good kid, You’ve been through a lot. And we love you.

Alex: I love you guys too. Can you just tell your husband I said thank you for everything? Tell Max I said keep working on his jump shot, okay?

Fruitvale Station

If you see one movie this weekend, make sure it’s Fruitvale Station. No doubt this will break your heart into a million pieces, but now, more than ever, Americans everywhere need to see this film. Not to mention, if the above examples haven’t convinced you that Michael B. Jordan is one of the best actors of our generation (and deserves all the awards), then this will.

Based on a true story, Michael portrays Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old two time convicted felon, who’s turning his life around in hopes for a better future for his girlfriend in daughter. The movie mainly focuses on the day leading up to the moment he was fatally shot and killed by a BART (subway) officer in San Francisco who believed he was involved in a brawl that broke out on a packed train. And it was all caught on camera.

Thinking about it, Oscar is the adult version of Wallace (basically MBJ likes to play the same character evolved over time). Oscar is someone who’s had a rough past, and just when he tries to leave it all behind, injustice occurs. First-time director Ryan Coogler could have easily made Oscar seem like an ex-con who was killed and had it coming. But he and Michael decided to give Oscar Grant the legacy he deserves – the lasting impression that he was a good boyfriend, father, son. He humanizes Oscar so that viewers don’t even get a chance to think that he possibly could be in the wrong and “deserved” to get shot. Plain and simple: an innocent man was pulled off a train and shot by a transit officer who thought he reached for his taser and not his actual gun. And Michael plays it in such a way that makes your heart sink into your body the second you hear that gunshot. It’s as if that one sound was the sound of all his potential, everything that he could have been, a better boyfriend, a better father, a better son – all gone in an instant.

And I suppose this goes without saying, but make sure you bring some tissues with you. You’ll need them.