Oh, you’re in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you darling
And I would still be on my feet
That was by and far the best episode of Parenthood so far this season. Obviously it is a relatively young season so that isn’t saying much but even with the mayoral storyline front and center it was a wholly enjoyable hour in which every Braverman but Joel (poor Joel) got screen time and many got both happy and sad moments. The music choices were also great, matching the plot decisions beat for beat. Any time The Luncheonette is featured you can be sure that there will be some great music discussed and/or shown (not quite with the latter this week). We got Joni Mitchell, Joshua Radin, some double dipping on songs from Katims, and even a Tyson Ritter guest appearance that made me sit up straight in my chair when I first realized it was him because sorry, but my love for The All-American Rejects will never die.
The Luncheonette storyline was by far the best of the night, giving us scenes involving Drew, Crosby, and Adam riffing off each other, Crosby and Adam making decisions that are probably stupid but could be executed more successfully than they sound at this point, and Crosby reacting to ridiculous clients in his usual ways. Dax Shepard playing off real life bands or singers in exasperated fashion never gets old, and his reaction after Adam tells him the band would be coming back as their own client was priceless. Music wise I actually didn’t think the fake band fronted by Tyson Ritter was awful, which could very well be heading towards a situation where Crosby is able to unearth the artistic talent hiding behind a psycho front man and annoyed instrumentalists, therefore leading to an understanding between all parties and a quality record. This would definitely be a predictable route for the show to take but, again, I could see Katims executing it very effectively. I’m happy that Tyson Ritter will be back as his few scenes with pork pie hat and “Jethro Tull” get up were hidden gems of the episode and he was a much better as brief comic relief than I would have though coming in to the episode. Ritter is currently only signed on in an “occurring role” capacity with no specific episode count attached that I can find, and he certainly won’t be able to be as popular as the other Ritter who spent time in the Braverman family orbit (come back to us Jason!), but I think having a band be a major part of the studio plot for the first time in a while is a great choice.
One of my favorite scenes from this episode was Adam, Drew and Crosby sitting around discussing Joni Mitchell songs and the effect of different ones on each of them. Drew going to Adam instead of Crosby was a nice little note about the taste each party had in music, but as they talked about their favorite songs and memories about them, the universal appeal of Joni was so apparent and accurate I was pleasantly surprised. It may be cliche to say “how can you hate Joni Mitchel” but seriously, HOW can you hate Joni Mitchell? She was one of the greatest artists of her generation and almost anybody can find one song that they identify with completely within her catalogue. Usually when the Braverman men discuss something as a group it ends up in a fight or some sort of disagreement so this was a nice scene, however brief, that revolved around music and truly underlined how much of a bond these men have and how they play off of each other like a family even if we don’t get the opportunity to witness it that often.
Unfortunately even with all of that Joni Mitchell training Drew was friend zoned in the end anyway. Even though it stung a little to see poor Drew be rejected it was exactly the kind of mature rejection that you experience as a college student. It isn’t like high school where a crush gone unrequited can be an embarrassment, and it was portrayed in a way that shows just how much Drew has grown and the friends around him have changed since we were first introduced. I’m a fan of Drew’s new platonic lady friend in general, as the show is painting her as sweet and popular without making her a Manic Pixie Dream Girl or someone every guy is after. This is a relationship that started in a shared co-ed bathroom and could grow into a solid friendship with ease. Drew hasn’t had very many close friends represented on the show so I like that as he attempts to get used to college life Parenthood understands that one friend who gets you to the core is a really important part of that experience. Even though Katims didn’t actually use “A Case of You” in a depressing or sad way it was a great inclusion to the episode as it is a lot of people’s “cry song”, including myself. One more reason to like this new character! But even though “A Case of You” was only used in passing here, it actually has already made us cry once before, when Katims used a cover of the song by James Blake way back in Season 3’s “Forced Family Fun” during a scene with Seth and Sarah. Exploring the downfalls of that relationship and reasons the couple loved each other in the first place was one of the most tear filled periods of the show so it was a great choice at that point and utilizing the same song in a possibly meta way here was a nice note.
Of course, the big cry moment of the week didn’t even need a song to underline how heartbreaking it was. Any scene with Lauren Graham and Mae Whitman is great, and this week we got both good times and bad between the two. Clearly Sarah is only trying to look out for Amber’s best interests from her own personal experience and lessons learned but at some point she really needs to stop pushing and let things play out as they will. It isn’t worth it to lose a daughter that your relationship has been rocky with before over an argument which she isn’t even listening to in the first place. Both Amber’s conversation with Ryan about his family and Sarah’s moments of warning were left without a unique soundtrack, using only the musical accompaniment that is the show’s signature. Letting these conversations more or less stand on their own worked well due to the acting occurring on screen. All three parties are putting on master classes right now (not surprising) and I’m pretty sure it will only get worse for the audience from here on out. Hydrate next week people, storm’s a comin’.
I’m not sure about using Joshua Radin’s “Beautiful Day” for the last song of the episode, but I also don’t know if that’s just because I’m already so sick of this Kristina running for mayor deal that anything it touches comes off as repetitive and stale. We’re only four episodes into the season and Katims used a Radin song during a big moment in Kristina’s campaign once already. Is he attempting to just work his way through his iPod at this point, or did he forget that he used a similar song in a similar situation only two weeks before. I’ve previously said how much I enjoy Radin and his music, both on TV and off. That doesn’t change here, it was a suitable song for a nice scene between Adam and Kristina, but it just made it clear how much this storyline is turning me off in regards to everything surrounding it. Let’s hope both the music choices and plot choices for this story get more original, and fast.
Snippets From Next Week’s Episode Synopsis Cry Potential Rundown
Maybe Something, Probably Nothing – “Adam and Crosby…set boundaries with the band”
A Few Sniffles – “Joe seeks boundaries with Peet” (a lot of boundary-setting next week it seems)
A Tear or Ten – “Julia and Camille discover they have something in common”
BRB SOBBING – “Sarah talks to Ryan and Amber” If I am not curled up in a ball hugging my tissues after this scene I will be genuinely surprised.