Wednesday, April 13, 2011

'Parenthood' & 'The Good Wife:' That Was Some Tuesday Night of TV

*Warning: Spoilers from the recent episodes of Parenthood and The Good Wife.*

Both Parenthood and The Good Wife broke my heart last night . . . but in a good way, not like the Lost series finale did.

Parenthood – I reviewed the episode here – took me on a very uncomfortable set of journeys with parents of teens in varying stages of angst. On the one hand, Adam and Kristina Braverman (Peter Krause and Monica Potter) had to process the idea that their 16-year-old daughter is having sex with her boyfriend. On the other hand, Sarah Braverman (Lauren Graham) was dealing with a teenage daughter Amber who is spiraling out of control with drugs and reckless behavior after being rejected from the two colleges to which she applied.

The Adam and Kristina story seemed to me to be a cautionary tale: Be careful what you ask for. If you ask your teenager if he or she is having sex, like Kristina did, be prepared in the event that you receive an affirmative answer. What do you do with that information once you have it? In Kristina's case, she became speechless and bumbled a lot, even lied to her daughter Haddie about how old she was during her first time. As for Adam, he was utterly unable to look at Haddie, his little girl, and treated her as though she had the plague. His disappointment was palpable and real. This storyline concluded with Kristina telling Haddie the truth about her first sexual experience and Adam realizing that Haddie was still Haddie. And, though it made me squirm in my seat – particularly the cell phone call scene – I loved it.

Not so great, the Amber storyline. Not that it wasn’t written well -- it was -- but it was truly heartbreaking. I honestly don't know what I'd do in Sarah's situation if my kid were acting out in this way. Although I will say that I’ve grown a wee bit tired of episode-ending car crashes featuring major characters. (*cough Grey's Anatomy cough*)

Over on The Good Wife -- which I DVRed and watched after Parenthood – I loved the clever way in which the writers chose to reveal to Alicia Florrick that her husband Peter had slept with a former colleague and now-current colleague of Alicia’s back during Peter’s philandering days when Alicia thought his only dalliances were with a prostitute.

This big reveal, sharing with a main character information viewers have known for several episodes, could’ve been done in a number of showy, melodramatic ways. But by having the private investigator casually mention the name "Leela," with Alicia having recently given a TV interview saying she’d forgiven her husband which people were crediting with putting Peter over the top, vote-wise, and with Peter just being declared the winner was particularly devastating.

Couple that with the fact that Alicia had been looking at a pricey house in her former leafy suburb – much like the home she had to sell after Peter went to jail – and started imagining rebuilding her life with Peter now that she’s stronger and sits on what she sees as an even playing field with her husband, and the ghosts of the past just just won't leave Alicia alone.

How the writers handle the next episode, I think, will be important in setting the tone for the series from this point on. And I’m hoping it’ll be as well executed as this episode was.

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