Friday, April 5, 2013

A to Z Challenge: Entertainment

When I was younger, I watched a lot of television. This rapidly began to fade the moment I hit college, because I was simply too busy, and it's been waning ever since. My days of coming home from school, plopping down in front of the TV and watching Garfield & Friends are long behind me, comrades, and while I could recreate it these days (Garfield & Friends is on Hulu now!), I don't think I'd much want to.

What they don't really tell you about being an adult (and at 24, my grasp on the concept of 'adult' is tenuous at best) is that what really becomes a commodity is time. I work 8 am to 5 pm and spend at least an extra hour outside of that in a car. My sleep schedule suffers because I just don't want to be asleep when I could be awake doing something awesome that's not related to my wonderful job. (I really do love what I do. It's just my first "real adult" job and I am getting used to working a predictable, solid workday: before now, I worked retail, and it's anyone's guess what will happen to your schedule then).

Just last night, for instance, I sat down around 7:30 pm to watch Veronica Mars and paint my nails, because my boyfriend was out of town for the night. I woke up when my alarm went off at 7:15 this morning. The noise of anger I made scared my cat enough to make him leap out of my bed and run into the kitchen, afraid something had happened to his breakfast. Because I sleep for 5-6 hours each night instead of the 8 I so rightfully deserve, I had an amazing deficit to make up for, unfortunately at the cost of me having some "me time."

All this goes to say, my "E" is for "Entertainment," because I want to introduce you to my favorite TV show. One that has a solid fanbase, but it's not so big that you see communities online about it, and not a lot of people talk about it. (Out of the several hundred friends I have on Facebook, for instance, I can name about 3 that watch this show alongside me).
You will cry buckets. It is so worth it.

Parenthood tells the story of a family of six: two sisters, two brothers, a mom and a dad. It chronicles the struggles of the children (all adults with their own families), and what they are doing with their lives. Just from looking at this cast photo, you might think "Oh, no. Too many characters. It's a soap opera. Not gonna even touch it." And you'd be right in that there are a lot of characters, but it is surprisingly easy to follow.

You have the archetypal "eldest son" and his wife Kristina and their two children, and their struggles with - in the beginning, at least - the possibility that their son Max might be Autistic. There is Julia and her husband Joel, Julia being the "power mom" lawyer and her husband the stay-at-home dad type. Sarah is played by Lorelei Gilmore Lauren Graham, and if you copy and paste Lorelei Gilmore's personality into Sarah Braverman, you get exactly what Sarah's deal is, but this incarnation of Lorelei has 2 kids instead of 1. (the one flaw I can say this show starts off with is that Sarah is Lorelei Gilmore 2.0 in every way, shape and form). Lastly there is the youngest manchild of a son, Crosby, living on a houseboat and being a womanizer. And mom and dad and their struggling marriage. But I digress.

Are these characters archetypes? Absolutely. But what Parenthood does that most shows starring archetypes don't is make you care. It holds you underwater until you admit that that you love it, it figures out who your favorite character is, and then it tortures them until you cry alongside them. The Braverman family is full of drama and issues and dark moments, but also so much beautiful, bittersweet feeling that there is hardly a dry eye in the house by the time the credits roll each episode.

I discovered this show when I was 22, when my ex and I were going through a rough patch a week or two before we broke up. He and I lived together, but I wanted to leave him alone, so I'd just lay in bed and watch Netflix. I stumbled upon this show and the rest is history. I curled up in bed with my laptop, wrapped myself in my comforter, and watched their lives unfold for hour upon hour. I saw myself in each of them, and in turn, each of them became part of me. I cheered on their victories and wept at their defeats. The producers of this show are so adept at tugging on heartstrings like marionettes it should be illegal, but of course it isn't, and of course, it's wonderful.

Give Parenthood a chance, and it might just surprise you. There are some stereotypical moments where you'll think, "Oh, really?" but you'll get over it soon enough. The first three seasons are available on Netflix, with the most recent season four soon to follow. Season five hasn't been green-lit yet, so you have time - and an impetus! - to watch my favorite show now.

Go on. I'll wait.


  1. I don't have kids but can see the appeal of this series for folks who do.Good luck with the challenge!

    Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
    Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  2. I've heard many good things about this show, but haven't yet given it a watch. I have become jittered (jaded + bitter) with the state of television today, so I limit the network shows I watch. I also don't want to be a person who is hooked on a bunch of shows so that my free time is built around watching TV. That being said, I will watch a couple of episodes of Parenthood on Netflix this weekend between yard work and give it a go.

  3. I love how your scream elicited fear of something wrong with the cat's meal! Excellent!

  4. Hi there. Good choice for E Day. I've seen good reviews of "Parenthood." I'll have to give it a look.

    Happy A to Z!

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