Parenthood, “The M Word” (5.6)



10/31/13, 10PM, NBC

After two episode of turning the curve, “The M Word” brings what’s been happening on the show to full speed. This is so far my favourite episode of the season so far, with a nice balance of the season long storylines coming to a head along with a couple one off plots to keep things amusing. After taking a break from the mayoral campaign race, the episode opens with the various members of the Braverman family going door to door to get the word out and getting said doors slammed in their face. My favorite of these is Crosby who unknowingly knocks on the door of a former one-night stand and the awkwardness that ensues. But the grassroots campaign needs to get into overtime since Kristina only has 17% public awareness and only 6% of the vote. After that, we see the various sections of the family deal with their own M words in different ways.

Most amusingly, Crosby’s word is “minivan”. After work one day, Jasmine tells Crosby that his red convertible and her green VW bug isn’t going to cut it for their expanding family anymore and that they need to trade his roadster for a dreaded minivan. Crosby of course vehemently opposes this, since his car is the last remnant of his old life and that trading it for a minivan with automatic doors, reclining backseats and a flip down screen will destroy his music producer image, as well as his ego. I particularly like Jasmine here since at this point, her husband’s bullshit protests just roll off her like water on a duck’s back. And Adam is proud that his brother is now “a minivan man.” Which ends up becoming useful when after an impromptu drinking session, Jasmine has to come pick him and Ashes of Rome up. Her talking to the band like they were a group of kids coming home from a soccer game is without a doubt the comedic highlight of the episode.

With Kristina, her word is “Max”. Since she’s dead last in the polls and with the 1st debate coming up quickly, Kristina has to, in the words of Barry Katz, “move the needle”. To make a big enough impression so that this entire endeavour isn’t a waste of time. Heather insists that she bring up Max in the debate, since being the mother of a special needs child would win huge sympathy points from the voters. Not wanting to use her son as a pawn, but at the same time realizing that she needs to win this debate in order to even stand a chance, Kristina for the 1st time is seriously beginning to doubt her veracity as a candidate running on education, especially up against her former boss Bob Little. But after a woman comes up to the mike at the debate to ask her about the public education system in Berkley in regards to her deaf daughter, Kristina finally, thankfully, takes the reins and delivers a touching speech on Max and the struggles her and Adam deal with in regards to the education system. And after getting off the podium to give the woman her card so that she could call her directly, she more or less won the debate and moved the needle.

With Julia, the word is “misguided”. While on the campaign trail with Sydney and Victor (with Joel having to bail due to another call from Pete), they end up at Ed’s house. Wanting to take a break from knocking on doors, they decide to stop for an impromptu visit. This leads to further bonding between Julia and Ed, which leads to them actually making a somewhat elaborate meal for them and the kids. But when Ed’s wife comes home, Julia realizes the path that she’s on with Ed and makes an awkward, hasty retreat. This is only compounded when they come home to another elaborate meal that Joel made to make up for having to ditch them. Whether this will stop the potential infidelity plotline in its tracks, it’s hard to say at this point. But going forward, there is a self-awareness on Julia’s part now.

With Sarah, the word is (and is still from the 2nd episode onwards) “marriage”. Specifically Amber’s. After a disastrous attempt and mother/daughter bonding over an uncooked frittata and mimosas which ended in their biggest argument yet with Sarah finally admitting that she doesn’t agree with Amber’s decision to get married at such a young age. After that, Amber now wants to just skip the elaborate wedding and to just go down to the courthouse and get it done with only Drew there as their official witness. But after Drew flat out says no, and Sarah has a talk with Camille who reminds her that this is personal history repeating itself, in order for this rift to be fixed, Sarah has to do the impossible. She has to stand back and do nothing. While both sides of this argument have been stated before in the previous episodes, it’s now that the contention between Sarah and Amber has finally come to a head and that Amber and Ryan are nothing like when Sarah and Seth did the same thing.

And finally, with Zeek and Camille, their word is “moving”. Zeek finally agrees with Camille to take a look at a condo with her. And while the place is any retiree’s dream come true, from the look on Zeek’s face it’s clear that this does not agree with him. When they get back to the house, Zeek begins yet another project, albeit a smaller one. He builds a fire pit for Camille. And while she appreciates it, as well as him finally entertaining the idea if only briefly, she tells him that she has decided to go with her art class on a group trip to Italy for a month, leaving him alone at the house for the first time in an extremely long time.
Like I said, this is the first episode of the season that I’ve really, really liked. The season long plots are all charging full speed ahead while there were still some amusing side plots to keep things entertaining for the short term.

The Roundup

  • Best Lines of the Episode: “How’d you get such a hot wife?” ; “I knocked her up.” Crosby to Oliver Rome, the lead singer of Ashes of Rome as they both marvel drunkenly at a strict, but fair Jasmine.
    “You said it would be like trick or treating.” ; “You fell for that?” Sydney complaining to Julia about the door to door complaining and Victor’s incredulous reaction.
    “You say minivan, I hear vagina. That’s what I hear.” ; “OK. Well, we’re going vagina shopping tomorrow, so sorry about that.” Crosby to Jasmine when broached with the idea of getting a minivan.
  • Stray Observations: Between that exchange and the scene at the dealership, I’m surprised at Crosby and Jasmine’s casual use of the word vagina, especially around her kids.
  • Tonight’s episode was directed by James Ponsoldt, the same man who directed “Smashed’ and what is currently my #4 film of the year “The Spectacular Now”. And if tonight’s episode is any indication, he’s going to have a great career doing tv episodes in between amazing movie.
  • When Bob Little’s campaign van crashes in on Kristina at the farmer’s market, “Blurred Lines” is playing over the van’s p.a. system. So a song about coercive sex is the theme for a political candidate’s campaign. Aside from the potentially deep social commentary on display, if there was any doubt to whether or not Bob Little was a douche, this pretty much solidifies it.
  • For the 2nd time this series, Adventure Time is not only referenced, but shown on the series. Between this and the Jake/Finn cameo in a Futurama episode, I’m sensing the universe really wants me to watch that show.
[notification type=star]90/100 ~ AMAZING. After two episode of turning the curve, “The M Word” brings what’s been happening on the show to full speed. This is so far my favourite episode of the season so far.[/notification]


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Film geek, podcaster and newly minted IATSE member from Regina, Saskatchewan. I met Don McKellar once, and he told me that Quentin Tarantino is exactly like me.