Thursday, October 7, 2010

Reality Television

"You need a license to buy a dog, or drive a car. Hell, you need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming a**hole be a father." -From the movie "Parenthood"

I have watched a lot of television in my life. Too much. I work in television. I live television. And throughout the years, some television shows have had a profound impact on my life. Ok, profound is maybe too strong of a word... but I'm still regularly quoting "Cheers" and "Seinfeld," and I had a lot more hair on my head the last time one of them aired in primetime. So television is woven throughout the fabric of my life.

Very seldom does a show come along that I truly look forward to every week. One that I can't wait to watch. One that doesn't get stale, sitting on the DVR for days or weeks at a time. This is a show that taps into the very soul of the various emotions I as a father may encounter in any given day. It's called "Parenthood." Duh.

I am yet to find a non-parent who watches this show. And maybe this is why: if you watch it before you have kids, you will never want to have kids. I'm serious. But now that I have kids - excuse me, KID - I watch and feel vindicated.

The Braverman Family from "Parenthood"

The show revolves around the lives of the four grown children in one family, 2 brothers and 2 sisters, and their experiences with their children. They each have their own problems and situations, as do their parents. As do we all. After my wife and I watched a recent episode, I turned to her and said, "I have actually experienced the same emotions that all four of them went through in this episode."

The father who's afraid his child has no interest in him. The mother who just wants to find something, anything in common with her child. The spouse who is experiencing second thoughts about having a second child. The guy who finally confronts his sometimes challenging (edited for political correctness) mother-in-law.

I was sweating after this episode. My heart was racing. Tears were forming.

Imagine that. Imagine that a television show - a drama, fiction for crying out loud - could tap into so many emotions and cram them into one-hour. But it does.

One couple deals with a smart, rebellious daughter
It so successfully portrays what is a constant feeling of exhaustion and exasperation with which all parents live. You go to bed tired, and you even wake up tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Even on the weekends. And I only have ONE child! The people I know with two, three, a fourth on the way... they're insane! This exhaustion causes a facial expression. An expression of desperation. An expression of at times hopelessness. An expression often of pure defeat.

But what the vast majority of parents don't do, for lack of a better term, is give up. And that's what the parents in this show don't do. They keep getting knocked down. By their kids, by their jobs, by their parents, by life. And they keep getting up. They keep trying. They keep trying harder. That's what "Parenthood," and what parenthood, is all about.

And that's why it's inspiring. That's why it's profound. Because when all is said and done, the most important things we can do for our kids is just keep showing up and loving them. No matter what life throws at us. No matter what life throws at them. No matter how tired we are. Defeat is not an option. So put on a happy face.

And even if you're not living parenthood, watch "Parenthood." See how the other half lives.

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  1. I watch it and I don't have kids. Great show

  2. Justin- my wife and I LOVE that show too. You could not have said it any better as to the meaning and message the show exemplifies. My wife and I are now "empty-nesters" an although the proverbial nest is empty we are NEVER without our sons. We carry them in our hearts everyday and hope-wish- pray- that their decisions are the right ones for them and if not WE are always going to be there for them and as you say, defeat is not an option. Thank you for all you supportive words- WE are putting on our happy face and smiling.

  3. I love that show. I am always amazed at how closely I can relate to so many of the story lines in that show.

  4. I totally agree with your review of the show and it has become a religion in our house. Each episode has sparked debate or discussion of how we'd handle the issues or experiences that came up. It is an instant classic, in my opinion.

  5. Agreed! I started watching it from the very first episode, after I'd heard that the show was attempting to present a realistic depiction of life with an Asperger's child in one of the families. I'm not normally a cheesy-family-drama fan, so I was prepared to bail... but after half of that first episode, I was hooked. It's well done.

    I love how they've been bringing in musicians for cameos in the music studio scenes lately, too.

  6. Ive also watched from the first episode and It is my Favorite favorite show. My husband used to watch but it got to be to close to home for him. We have two special needs children one with Autism among other things and one with Severe tourette's syndrome,and we are a biracial couple. I experience the same emotions watching. When Max was dx'd I understood because they got what it was really like to have your dreams crushed. The learning how to deal with a child with special needs the ups and downs. They don't hold back. Losing friends who don't understand and not able to celebrate the small milestones that your child reached. Max going to the house on Halloween by himself. I was beaming right along with them. Finally watching your child find an actual friend.. The daily life of dealing with a stranger to come into your home and tell you how to deal with your child. Being in a biracial marriage and explaining heritage to your child that the other parent doesn't understand. It is so well written and honest.. You do not see that often in shows especially one who tackles the tough topics. After the last three shows they have shown they will always be that way handling the difficult problems in life. Every parent no matter who you are can find someone in the show that hits close to home..


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