Welcome back, old people, to our mid-season Parenthood TV Club. Every week, Allison Benedikt IMs with a different fan/regular watcher of the show. Today, please welcome Gawker reporter John Cook, who also happens to be Allison’s husband.
Allison Benedikt: OK, let me just set the scene. It is 11:28 on a Tuesday night. We have just finished watching Parenthood. John is baking a challah in our oven, and I’ve been crying. We are sitting at opposite ends of our milk and raisin stained couch, each on our own laptops. “Parents on Parenthood” starts … now!
John Cook: Hello darling. What did you think of that very special Christmas episode of Parenthood?
Benedikt: I'm disappointed. I sobbed as expected, but it was corny. "Santa is magic. Christmas is for miracles.” But at least whatsherface from Gilmore Girls and Ray Romano finally had the sex. Does this please you?
Cook: Ray Romano is probably the most tolerable thing about the show for me right now. But the whole romance between them was so inevitable and predictable it's all sort of rote. The show has descended into cut-rate melodrama.
Benedikt: I can't believe it, but: I agree with you. Now, on to cancer. If you, like Kristina, thought you might not make it till Christmas and recorded a video for our family, what would you say about me?
Benedikt: HURRY UP DON'T PAUSE.
Cook: Well first off, I would record that video on my MacBook Pro laptop.
Benedikt: Good, because I would need the product placement money.
Cook: I'd probably use PhotoBooth to do it. As with Kristina's, you'd be able to see a colorful toolbar with Apple's suite of powerful and friendly apps arrayed below my heartfelt Quicktime goodbye.
Benedikt: Yes, and????
Cook: I would tell the kids to love you and protect you and make sure you find someone capable of performing all the basic household tasks you seem to have trouble with.
Benedikt: Cute. I ask because I tend to think of us as the Kristina and Adam of Brooklyn, but I was really let down by Kristina's hacky video to her family. It was all "I am so proud of you" and "You can be whatever you want to be." Where were the specifics? Like, "Haddie, remember that time you cut your bangs and ...” etc.
Cook: Well, it should have had advice. Life lessons. Beer before liquor never sicker, that sort of thing.
Benedikt: Right, like: Max, if you ever own a recording studio like your dad Adam does and have a hot assistant like your dad Adam did, DON'T TALK TO HER OR GO NEAR HER.
Cook: That video had a wheels within wheels quality to it: Kristina might die of cancer, but now she might die of an infection, on Christmas Eve, and also here’s her last will and testament delivered directly to the camera. It's like they couldn't stop themselves, melodramatically speaking. The tear-jerking was over-determined.
Benedikt: That's always been the problem with this show, but it's gotten worse. There were always those moments when you were like, “OK, this is too much.” But then they’d pull back and have a really terrific, well-written, honest scene right after it. Those scenes are fewer and fewer this season.
Benedikt: OK, moving on ... Tonight, Julia and Joel's adopted son told their biological daughter that there is no such thing as Santa. When am I, the Jewish parent in our melting pot of a family, permitted to tell our children the same?
Cook: Do whatever you want. All it takes is a visit from a fat guy in a suit to restore their faith—just as Victor's was restored in the hospital tonight. Our ways are very powerful. One thing though: Our people do not procure Christmas trees on Christmas Eve like Dax Shepard and his wife did. That would be insane.
Cook: Ravi Shankar died.
Benedikt: The chronology and pacing of the whole episode was off. Trying to fit in too many storylines. Like Amber breaking up with her Afghanistan War vet boyfriend, Ryan. That was one too many things going on. Also, that was some crazy-ass overacting.
Cook: An insult to veterans everywhere.
Benedikt: Did you feel good about the way Amber basically protected herself, though, from a man who “cannot stand up for himself”? As she noted, her mother gave everything she had, emotionally, to her drug addict ex-husband Seth, hoping to be able to "fix" him, and it was "not the way to love." So she doesn't want to go down that path. Boy do I get that.
Cook: One shame-spiraling night of drinking does not make a man who can't stand up for himself. It's not like the guy is a heroin addict. He's having a rough time adjusting to civilian life. It's an off note for the show to seem to validate a response of "Hey there private, figure your shit out on your own." Especially after a string of episodes that valorized Zack for taking the time to help the dude.
Benedikt: Who is Zack?
Cook: Zeke? Zake? Craig T. Nelson. Coach.
Benedikt: Right. I think the general Braverman motto is: Help other Bravermans. Speaking of: Lightening round. If you could be any Braverman, who would you be?
Cook: The teenage boy. With the teenage girlfriend.
Benedikt: I would be the teenage girlfriend, just to ruin that for you.
Benedikt: No, no, that’s selfish. Have your fun. I would be Julia, so I could have Joel.
Cook: Oh you mean the sensitive giving understanding fit handsome stay-at-home dad contractor? With permastubble?
Benedikt: Yes, because he'd never do something lame like a Slate IM chat at 11:53 on a Tuesday night. He would be wearing a cool flannel right now, sanding something.
Cook: Although he would do anything for his wife.
Benedikt: Speaking of, we learned tonight that Greatest Actor of Our Generation Dax Shepard wants to have another baby with his wife Jasmine. My prediction for next season: A new baby will cause stress and a breakup cliff-hanger for Jasmine and Crosby.
Cook: I think a cancer diagnosis will just rotate through the cast, season-by-season.
Cook: By the way: They should have killed Kristina, Game of Thrones style. THAT would have generated some tears.
Benedikt: Though I didn't want that to happen, I also did. I found myself slightly bummed when she woke up. The show stole from me the ability to ask you the most important end-credits question of all time: What would you do without me?
Benedikt: And with that, goodnight dear.
Cook: Good night my love. Who's doing the dishes?
Benedikt: Joel would.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Irritating Confidante
John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.
My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee
Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?
Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?
Driving in Circles
The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.