Review of “Everything Is Not Okay”- Aired 9/25/12

Everyone’s Got Some Problems

Last night, Parenthood did what it does so well and got personal—revealing the ugly truths about how the diagnosis of cancer affects a family.

In “Everything Is Not Okay,” Kristina and Adam are forced to deal with her diagnosis and accept very quickly that life will be different for a while. They visit two different doctors—a renowned one with a colder, to-the-point bedside manner and a less-known, but caring and optimistic one—to get opinions on how Kristina should proceed. Outside of the doctors’ offices, Adam struggles with how to handle everything else in his life—wanting to stay as positive and supportive as possible in front of Kristina, but taking out his anger, fear, and frustration on everyone else, particularly Amber (Mae Whitman). Meanwhile, the family gets a sobering wake-up call that their father, Zeek (Craig T. Nelson), is aging when a driving violation lands him in jail for aggression with a police officer and for driving with an expired license. The incident forces him to retake his driver’s test, creating a great amount of anxiety for him, which is soon eased by Camille’s (Bonnie Bedilia) steadfast encouragement. Finally,  Sarah continues to work at breaking the ice with Hank and even urges him to soften up for the sake of his business’s survival.

The shining star of the episode was—as she has often been before—Monica Potter. Her interpretation of Kristina’s roller coaster of emotions feels so authentic, especially during the scene in which she breaks down in front of the bathroom mirror. It’s a much more subtle performance than Calista Flockhart’s was on Brothers & Sisters, and that’s okay. Kristina is a strong, focused, and analytical character, and choosing to stay true to that is a wise decision on Potter’s part. Potter is really going to let us see the ugly side of such a family tragedy this season. For some, it may feel all too familiar. But, as I’ve said before, that’s Parenthood’s goal—to enable us to relate to them.

The interactions between Zeek and Camille was incredibly heartwarming, too. Both Nelson and Bedelia bring such an element of truth to their characters. You truly feel like you are watching a married couple with a long past of some ups and even more downs. We, as viewers, have not been invited in to the Bravermans’ past, but you just automatically know—feel, actually—that their marriage has changed throughout the years, and you accept that you are seeing them together at the beginning of the end.  I wish the writers would give us more of them, particularly of Camille, who you often view as “mom.”

Thank God the writers have decided to soften Ray Romano’s character a bit. Only three episodes in, that story line was already beginning to feel tired and annoying. He was showing absolutely no reason to be liked, and it left the audience wondering why the writers were putting Sarah (and us) through such a sucky situation. By the end of this episode, though, we were thrown hints as to why he may be such a jerk sometimes, and I’m excited to learn of his past troubles while getting to see him exposed.

For me, the episode was tied together by a theme of “chaos.” It seemed like each unit of the family was going through his or her own personal version of a meltdown. But, that’s just life, right?

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