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Emmys 2017
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Parenthood recap: 'Aaron Brownstein Must Be Stopped'

Crosby and Amber have an adventure that teaches them it may be time to grow up, and Max and Ruby go through growing pains of their own.

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TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Lauren Graham, Craig T. Nelson

Listen carefully, because I’m about to angrily say something I don’t say very often: ARE YOU KIDDING ME, PARENTHOOD? After last week’s cliffhanger, which had Joel standing at Julia’s door professing his love for her (and all of us shouting “TAKE HIM BACK!” or “SLAM THE DOOR!”) you come back this week with an episode completely Joel-and-Julia-free? And to make matters worse, fill the hour with a Ruby/Hank/Sandy-heavy episode that we had to endure without Sarah there to make it more bearable? With only a handful of episodes left, I hate to fight, but it’s because of the fact that there are only a handful of episodes left that I can’t bear wasting any of the precious time we have left together on these superfluous stories. Speaking of which, let’s talk about Aaron Brownstein.

Max Braverman is a man in love, and he’s ready to profess his feelings to his crush, the belligerent-turned-engaging Dylan. Deciding it’s clearly time to ask her out, he discovers her in a lip-lock with a fellow Chambers Academy student with a fabulous moniker, Aaron Brownstein, and all hell breaks loose. Max is hysterical and begs headmaster Braverman to expel the menace, but Kristina seems confused as to which hat she’s wearing and tries to reason with him like her son, not her pupil. When Max passes out flyers detailing Aaron’s offenses (“excessive PDA” being one of them), Aaron calls him a “little bitch” (who else felt guilty for wanting to applaud after that line?). There’s a fight (which Max starts), and Kristina is once again torn as to whom she’s supposed to be—headmaster or mom—when disciplining Max. She obviously chooses “mom” as she tries to get Max to talk about his feelings for Dylan and then allows him to return to class without consequence for the fight, just like usual.

But we haven’t heard the last of Aaron Brownstein, because later Dylan comes over to tell Kristina that she feels badly for what happened and that she’s never going to like Max the same way he likes her. She likes Aaron Brownstein (sorry, I can’t help repeating that fantastic name, which, due to the fact that it’s this episode’s title, tells me the Parenthood writers must like it, too). Dylan, who when we met her was a completely different person, is nothing but respectful and kind in her admission to Kristina. Maybe Chambers Academy is helping some of its students become better people, after all.

But Max won’t let Aaron Brownstein win, and the next day presents Dylan with a poster collage of photos of her—”an incredibly thoughtful and romantic gift” as he calls it—in the middle of the lunch room. When her friends laugh at him, he decides to profess his feelings verbally, in a very Max-like manner (i.e., loudly, incessantly, and in great detail). With the lunch room laughing, Dylan begs him to stop (which he, of course, doesn’t do). Finally she can’t take it anymore. “I WILL NEVER LOVE YOU! PLEASE JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!” she screams out in frustration. Awkward love speech or not—ouch. And what follows is something that’s happened many, many times over the course of the past five and a half seasons. I start to ugly cry? Well, sure, but what I’m talking about is one of Kristina’s “buddy, you are amazing” speeches she’s often had to give to Max in times of crisis. But this time it’s different, because while it’s not Max’s first public humiliation, it is his first broken heart. Telling him he’s brave and how he’ll find a girl one day who likes him back in the same way might seem predictable, but it resonates with Max, who actually lets his mom hug him. Tissue, please, and now let’s please put this story to rest.

NEXT: Animal House