Thursday, January 24, 2013

NBC, please don't cancel "Parenthood"

Growing up, we didn't have cable. We had, like, five channels. Not that it mattered how many channels we had because we were only allowed to watch TV on the weekends anyway. TGIF was epic.

I'm not complaining. Not having cable meant for 18 years I didn't waste hours and hours of my life on cable TV shows. 

But I've been corrupted. Now we have satellite. There's a gazillion channels worth of bad TV that I can waste my life on. And I do (Thankyouverymuch "Real Housewives of ..." and "American Pickers" and whatever happens to be on Food Network.)

I'm so ashamed.

But I'm not just all about fake eyelashes, old crap and recipes for semi-homemade peanut butter pie*. 

There are a lot of great characters on TV right now. Ron Swanson and Leslie Knope on "Parks and Recreation"  and Jess and Schmidt on "New Girl,"  for instance. Oh and Sue Heck on "The Middle" who I feel a deep kinship with and is how I imagine the rest of the world sees me:

These characters are all beyond quirky, and the great thing about the actors playing them is that they just embrace the weird and let themselves go in the roles (because there's nothing that ruins a good bit like a self-conscious actor.)

But I digress. 

My favorite show right now is "Parenthood" on NBC which just had it's season finale on Tuesday. The show hasn't technically been renewed for it's fifth season yet so the season finale felt a bit like a series finale ... and if that's the case, I'll be totally bummed out.** 

The show is blessed with great writing, casting and chemistry. There's just enough melodrama to offer an escape from your own parenthood, but not so much that the show veers off into Lifetime/Hallmark territory. It's a delicate balance. 

Week after week, I feel like the show does a wonderful job of capturing both the loud, life-changing moments and the quiet, sweet moments that come with family.

One of my favorite moments in Tuesday's finale was a scene between Amber and Ryan.

The backstory to this scene was that Ryan, an Afghanistan vet who suffers from PTSD, and Amber had been dating. Amber broke off the relationship when Ryan got drunk after a guy he served with committed suicide and wrecked her car. Amber's father is alcoholic and she'd watched her mother clean up after him over the years and had promised herself she wouldn't end up in the same situation. Earlier in this episode, Ryan had visited Amber with flowers and told her he was doing well, was clean and on his medication and that he still loved her, but Amber hadn't taken him back. 

This is the scene of their reunion:

"I need to know that you're going to try to be strong and accept the fact that I love you and try to be responsible for that."

I love this line and this sentiment. 

Over the years, I've had family members who've dealt with emotional trauma and substance abuse. It's frustrating and heartbreaking to see someone you love be self destructive. You constantly walk a line between anger at what you perceive as selfishness and desperation over wanting them to just get healthy and find their old self, or at least their better self, buried somewhere in all the darkness.

That's the hard thing about love. It's not easy. And the times that it is the hardest to love a person are also usually the times when that person is most in need of your love -- even as they're throwing it back in your face. 

Amber doesn't say all of that and she doesn't have to. The beauty of concise, crisp writing is that it's load-bearing. 

And it's tough to find on TV these days.

*Sometimes I just like to see what lengths Sandra Lee has gone to to match her wardrobe with her kitchen decor. 

**I guess NBC Universal would rather pay for quality programming like "Sharktopus"  and "Abominable Snowman" on SyFy or "Gallery Girls" and "The Real Housewives of Miami" on Bravo (the latter of which find my budding feminist rearing her angry head). Please don't cancel "Parenthood" NBC. 

***A definite area of growth for me.

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