This week, I am a-ok with the title the actual writers gave the NBC show. Just Like At Home was about just that -- finding and accepting a definition of home. It was about #familyfirst, according to Twitter, except for Sarah who is always about men first. But we will get to that.
Unfortunately the Joel and Julia storyline isn't the strongest part of the show -- mostly because of the lack of believability over their split. Or at least, they haven't revealed to us viewers what is really at the core of Joel's exit (Pete? Could it be Pete?) But the small ripples from their splits are starting to affect most of the other characters on the show.
We start off with the chilly send-off of the kids for the weekend. Julia packed their brand new bags and they are off. As a child of divorce, I've been there and I can only hope they remember their favourite pair of underwear as they schlep back and forth. Because getting dressed and remembering that you left your lucky underwear at your Dad's is a major drag. Anyways, Joel's apartment is so typical, it looks like he went to Ikea and bought a catalogue page under the inoffensive section.
He has the classic Dad bribe of an Xbox and a Rainbow Loom. Wait? A Rainbow Loom, sorry I agree with Sydney on this one, a 20 dollar toy does not compare to an XBox. And, yes, Rainbow Loom is over -- folks. Over. As soon as the temperature starts to rise in the room the best shiny thing of all is revealed -- a pool! All is forgiven, he bought them bathing suits already! Woo hoo!
I have to take a minute to say how much I love the Opening Credits. The childhood photos of the actors does a lot to draw us in closer to the characters. I feel like I know Dax Shepard because I was invited to see him as a kid. And the scene around the dinner table with the warm candles and sly sibling smiles. Classic. Aren't we all a little jealous and a little buoyed by the Braverman clan having dinner in their bohemian Berkeley garden?
We return to Julia making herself the saddest dinner in the world: microwave popcorn and a bottle of wine. She is alone in her glamorous house and it hurts. Why Joel? Why? Julia ends up sleeping in Sidney's bed. I get it. It's smaller, and the scent of her children around her may help her sleep -- for a minute. Julia earns the first tear of the episode.
Onto the inevitable love triangle with Sarah. Is she so desirable that she must always be involved in a love triangle with two less-than perfect men. Carl gets the taco trucks and remembers her sister's name. He is so sensitive and he is into her! I guess, we will magically forget all the young sex kittens he had parading down the hall. Because you know, tacos. Also, he digs her when she is wearing a fedora. Hank, jealous of Sarah's lipstick (why didn't she put it on in the car??) photoshops the funky taco truck out of her photos because he says it looks better. He doesn't get her. Oh wait, it looks better without the truck and you know why? Because he is a professional photographer!
Anyways, Sarah and her puffy face have to choose between her newly-sensitive reformed playboy tenant and her boss who is now her subordinate, cranky, emotionally-scarred ex-boyfriend. The only part of this I like is Hank. I think Ray Romano is killing this role. And I don't care if you disagree.
Finally, the episode begins to pick up as we move into the territory the show is best at: interpersonal relationships between family. Sure we are all a bit messed up, and we don't always say the right thing but it is #familyfirst. Sarah tells Julia that it will get better, or if not better easier. She knows the pain that Julia is experiencing. (Except Amber and Drew's dad is a super loser -- he is no Joel.)
The perfect married couple are on a dirty weekend getaway. You know that isn't going to last long. But first, Adam and Kristina are relaxing in the mud bath after sex in the hot tub. That's as much smut as we get here in Braverman country. When Kristina thanks him for standing by her, we all know she didn't need to. That is who Adam is -- he is Mr. Perfect and standing by is what he does, and why we love him. He says:" If I have to be stuck in the mud, I want to be stuck in the mud with you." That's marriage, folks. I'm giving that conversation one tear. Because my husband is a bit like Adam (but bossier, and grumpier).
Later on Adam and Kristina climb some hill, admire the view and decide to head back home from their romantic weekend (cancer gift FTW) so Adam can stand by Julia. Though, not before joking about the sex trifecta. Again, that's marriage. Who hasn't had that conversation on a dirty weekend? (Can't just be me?).
Back in Braverman central, Dax is confronting Zeeke about the selling of the house. Of course he doesn't want to sell, that man can't abide change. But then Zeek says:
Your mother and I have been together 47 years... I realized that I love her a lot more than I love this house. So if selling this house makes her happy, that is what I’m going to do. So that’s it son. That is the ball game.
And that is the crux of tonight's episode, it doesn't matter where home is. Home is with the people you love, and the people who sit in the mud with you. Home is at your Dad's greige apartment or in your beautiful house without your kids making noise, home is what you make it.
Which brings us to Amy and Drew. Amy is essentially homeless. She seems to have left Tufts with only a small backpack and no shred of self-esteem. She is a first-class clinger, waiting for Drew between classes and staring at him with her wide eyes filled with tears. Drew tells Amber that he understands what is like to love someone and yet want them to leave, something that Amber knows about. Drew finally talks to Amy and says she needs to talk to her parents about everything that "has happened". Amy is obviously having a breakdown and I feel a little bit like they are blaming the abortion for her mental state. Amy marches off to tell her parentseverything. (I hope her parents can handle that much information in one night.) But Amy has to learn that her home is not in Drew's dorm room but with her own family. She is not eligible for the Braverman support network.
Meanwhile, at rancho single dad Sydney is sporting some Rainbow Loom bracelets and is openly dismayed at spending another full day at the man cave. Victor, meanwhile looks very chuffed at the whole thing. Sydney had a perfect life until Joel burst her bubble. But Victor is a master at change, he was moved around foster homes, he came to J&J as a fully-formed kid. He gets broken homes and sad children -- and as far as change goes -- this one is looking pretty good so far. That is until the middle of the night when he needs his mom to talk him down from a fear of the nasty,noisy elevator.
Julia walks around the house talking to him, but she isn't alone this time. Each bed is filled with one of her siblings. They have all come over to drink, feed and nourish her with sibling love. She is in the mud and they came to dance and drink her way out of it. This leads to the best conversation of the episode when they compare their ranking of black sheep in the family. All of them, except Adam of course -- he is Mr. Perfect.
Meanwhile the next generation is having s'mores with their grandparents. Because you can have beer anywhere, but you can only have S'mores at home.
Two tears at the end!
For a total of: FOUR tears. Not the cryingest -- but still a good episode.
Next Week: Is the cancer back? And Sarah gets nekkid with Carl.
Big news: They remembered Hattie exists! Hattie will make a one show appearance later this year.
Did you know? There are Friday Night Lights/Parenthood crossovers on the web. Also, wait for more About A Boy appearances.
My God, I'm a nerd.