• Dadwagon on Facebook
  • Dadwagon on Twitter
  • Dadwagon RSS feed

The Fallacy of NBC’s ‘Parenthood’

March 29th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  14 Comments

Picture 22

Stormsweeper on Peter Krause: "I kind of want to punch that guy in the face."

So, true story: I know these parents who have a teenage girl who racked about a $1,000 cell phone bill—all to one number! And when the curious parents dialed the number to see who it was, it was some “Yo yo, wassup!” type of loser. Who, once the parents hacked their daughter’s Facebook account, turned out to be her boyfriend, whom she’d kept secret for weeks. Can you believe?!?

Well, I don’t need you to believe, just to suspend your disbelief for an hour or so every Tuesday night, when a mildly idiotic dramedy called “Parenthood”—whose most recent episode contained the “cell phone & secret boyfriend” subplot—airs on NBC.

I’d been meaning to watch “Parenthood,” which is loosely based on the 1989 movie starring Steve Martin and Dianne Wiest, for some time now, but since it usually runs opposite “Lost,” and since I kept forgetting I could watch it on Hulu, I didn’t get to catch an episode until Saturday, when NBC was showing it to people who don’t get out on weekend nights—i.e., parents like me.

The premise is complicated: “Parenthood” follows the travails of the extended Braverman clan—paterfamilias Zeek (Craig T. Nelson), his wife, Camille (Bonnie Bedelia), and four or so adult children in their 30s (Peter Krause, Erika Christensen, Dax Shepard) who have their own kids crotchfruit as well. They all live together in the Braverman family compound, several million dollars’ worth of acreage in Berkeley, California. And, you know, they just try to survive.

Among many, many plot points: Adam (Krause), the eldest son, is beset by responsibility and trying to keep his temper under control, none of which is made easier by his son Max being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. There’s Sarah (Lauren Graham), who’s broke, divorced from a rock star with a drug habit, has two rebellious teenagers, and has just moved back in with her family. And there’s Julia (Christensen), a driven lawyer who worries that her daughter prefers her SAHD husband.

And actually, those aren’t even plot points—just the background material. Every week, tons of shit happens: Sarah hooks up with an old flame, her brother Crosby (Dax Shepard) finds out he’s the father of a 5-year-old boy, and Julia and her hubby attempt to have a date night.

Is it any good? Of course not, but not for the reasons you might be thinking. Yes, it’s annoyingly modern, with references to Facebook and bong hits and lots of people talking on cell phones all the time. And yes, the actors are all just awful, particularly Peter Krause, who seems not to have shed the beatific-idiot look he mastered on “Six Feet Under.”

What I really hate about “Parenthood” is just that so much happens on the show. As I’ve learned over the past few months of blogging about my life as a father, parenthood is often quite—well, not boring exactly, but not exciting either. You don’t have an entertaining crisis every week, let alone enough TV-worthy events to fill a Bay Area family compound. Mostly, you’re just trying to get through every day, and hoping that actually nothing unusual will happen at all, that the kid will take her bath and eat her dinner and go to sleep at the appointed hour without discovering a new way to turn all of your lives upside-down.

I know, I know: Who expects reality from TV? Not me, certainly, but there is one thing I do want—when you name your NBC family “Braverman,” aren’t they supposed to be fucking Jewish? Hello, NBC?


  1. Bruce Sallan says:

    March 29th, 2010at 2:21 pm(#)

    So, how do you really feel Matt. As a former exec and producer in the TV biz for 25 years, I can tell you getting anything good on the air is a miracle! And, the one form I used to love and do, often disparaged, is basically dead – the TV movie – replaced by the ironically named “reality television” when reality is anything but what most of those planned and orchestrated shows are about!

    But, your point about real parenthood being a bit boring, day-to-day, couldn’t be more right on (am I dating myself or what?).

    I remember video-ing my first son, at around one year of age, for a confirmed bachelor, never gonna have kids friend of mine. It was New Year’s Eve and my then wife and I did what all first-time parents do on New Year’s Eve, we stayed home. Did open a bottle of champagne and watched some TV. Our boy had one of those rolling car things that a baby can straddle and push by holding onto the “steering” wheel and sort of walking with it.

    As kids often do, he repetitively went in a circle on his rolling vehicle, coming by us and saying, “Hi Daddy, Hi Mommy” to which we replied, “Hi Arnie”. This went on a few times before I realized it would be one of those classic moments that I’d likely forget and would be perfect to share with my bachelor friend. What really happens with kids!

    So, I got out my camcorder, held it steady and taped him doing this for literally a dozen or so minutes. The boredom of this video was palpable and I immediately sent a copy to my buddy and it only reinforced his no-kids policy.

    THAT is parenting – that can’t be a TV series – and I think that is your point Matt!

    Great review/blog – good insights.

    Bruce Sallan
    “A Dad’s Point-of-View”

  2. jennifer says:

    March 29th, 2010at 3:21 pm(#)

    So, I don’t understand the last para in the post? (Maybe it is because I am neither Jewish nor in media? Or just dense? Your pick.)

  3. Matt says:

    March 29th, 2010at 3:39 pm(#)

    @jennifer: Braverman is, in my experience, a Jewish name. (Am I wrong?) These Bravermans—pronounced BRAVER-man instead of BRAH-ver-man—are pretty goyische.

  4. stormsweeper says:

    March 29th, 2010at 3:50 pm(#)

    I kind of want to punch that guy in the face. Krause? I don’t care. I am not normally a violent man, but something about that face just riles me up.

  5. dadwagon says:

    March 29th, 2010at 3:50 pm(#)

    Matt–why do you hate your people? –Theodore.

  6. Matt says:

    March 29th, 2010at 3:54 pm(#)

    Hate my people? I’m telling NBC to make these Bravermans MORE Jewish, not less. Unless you mean I hate them because I’m telling the network to pull the veil back on the fictional family’s attempt to assimilate into—and then destroy—American society? Then, okay, yes, I hate my people.

  7. jennifer says:

    March 29th, 2010at 4:44 pm(#)

    Matt – NOW I get it. I haven’t seen Parenthood because I watch Millionaire Matchmaker—speaking of the Jews!—on Tuesday at 10 and also, because Parenthood looks insufferable, in large part due to Peter Krause. However, I am willing to bet, sight unseen, that these Bravermans are a lot like the Jewish folk in Berkeley, California! Where I grew up.

  8. Jason says:

    March 29th, 2010at 7:23 pm(#)

    Which is why everyone needs to join my new Facebook group, “1,000,000 ‘Ghost Dad’ Fans Who Want To See It Made Into A TV Show”.

  9. Stefan @dadtoday.com says:

    March 29th, 2010at 9:48 pm(#)

    sure it’s far fetched, and how do they all just happen to turn up and shoot hoops at the end of a day. still, I find it suck-me-into-it-ish, in that grey’s anatomy way where doctors are much sexier and get it on far more often in the elevators than in real life. and certainly an upgrade on the sitcom family drama all revolving around a living room set

  10. Danielle says:

    May 19th, 2010at 8:48 pm(#)

    Whatevs. Peter Krause is flippin’ sexy. However, I would like to sucker punch his TV wife. Is she annoying or what?

  11. allie says:

    March 20th, 2012at 9:02 pm(#)

    There is no rhyme or reason for these people to be called Braverman. I happen to like the show, but giving the family such a Jewish name and making them not Jewish is really annoying. And don’t tell me they’re just a bunch of very assimilated Northern California Jewish.They’re not. They’re goyim. Period.

  12. Donna Kaplan says:

    June 20th, 2012at 7:59 pm(#)

    I happen to love Parenthood and find it very real and entertaining…About the family being or not being Jewish, which, I am, I noticed the name Braverman right off from thr first episode.. It is definately a Jewish name and I have known many Bravermans…But I never considered this family looking anything but Waspy. Many Episcopalians??? I have wondered about that dicotomy and if it was a inside joke of the writers and producers..

  13. rprp says:

    October 23rd, 2013at 3:31 pm(#)

    Very belated response. I thought i was alone in my reaction to the name. In this world, the default is that people are not Jewish. A deliberate Jewish name means you’re making them Jewish. And yet….so goyish. So, an inside joke? A favor to your best friend Braverman? A Dickensian meaning to the name? Who knows.


    A Week on the Wagon: Giving Thanks | DADWAGON

Leave a Response



Recent Comments

  • Len: Absolutely! Unequivocally! Especially if they’re only in preschool. What they learn and experience on a...
  • Nathan: Yes, suspiciously sanitary. Of course, my babies just emit a faint, pleasing lemony odor. So maybe I’m...
  • Joe: Now I don’t know anything about babies, except that one is going to come out of my wife soon, but from...
  • Brenda: Wow, is it really MNG? Seriously excited!
  • SCOTTSTEV: My goodness. I read your takedown of Armin Brott. Judging from the preppy shirt on the cover, I was...

DadWagon Reads!

What Almost Made Me Cry Today:

ทรูมูฟ เอช " การให้ คือการสื่อสารที่ดีที่สุด " Giving ทรูมูฟ เอช เชื่อเสมอว่า "การให้ คือการสื่อสารที่ดีที่สุด" โดยเราสื่อสารผ่านภาพยนตร์โฆษณาทางโทรทัศน์ เรื่องราวในภาพยนตร์โฆษณาเรื่องนี้ สะท้อนแนวคิดของแบรนด์ ท...

Sep 13th, 2013 4:43pm • Comment

How to stop toddlers from crying—guaranteed!

How to Stop her Crying

Aug 23rd, 2013 3:08pm • No Comments

Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration - Sesame Workshop
Welcome to Sesame Street’s press room for our newest resiliency initiative Little Children, Big ...

Jun 12th, 2013 12:42pm • No Comments

This is what it's like!

Convos With My 2 Year Old - EPISODE 1 Actual conversations with my 2 year old daughter, as re-enacted by me and another full grown man - Episode 1. Produced by Warmland Films www.warmlandfilms.co...

May 24th, 2013 11:40am • No Comments