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Parenthood recap: 'Lean In'

Joel and Julia find a common ground regarding the state of their marriage, and Zeek has a potentially life-changing moment.

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Colleen Hayes/NBC


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

After last week’s mostly uneventful episode, where most of Team Braverman was noticeably absent (stupid contract stipulations), it was a relief to have (most of) our favorite players back in the game and get back to some good stuff, wasn’t it? Well, except for Max’s storyline, which, thankfully, found some closure this week. Let me be clear, I think Max Burkholder is an amazing little actor. Truly, to be able to make so many people so irate each week takes real talent (and by “people,” I may or may not be talking about those actually on the show). But, much like Hank, the Dylan storyline has grown old and tiresome, hasn’t it? We want more Sarah! We want more Zeek! We want some progress on the whole Joel and Julia fiasco! Wishes granted, but first let’s slog through the hassle with Max and Dylan. Quickly. You’re welcome.

Kristina continues to ignore Dylan’s pleas that Max is harassing her and forces the two to work together on a project. While badgering her about why she doesn’t like him, Max grabs Dylan, who freaks out. As you would when being physically assaulted.


A. immediately removes Max from the scene and apologizes to Dylan, later suspending Max from school

B. assures the other parents that Chambers Academy will not tolerate bullying and harassment

C. shrugs her shoulders and makes excuses for Max

I think you all know the answer. Sigh.

Dylan’s parents aren’t settling for excuses, however, and they are incensed to discover that Max has been harassing Dylan for over a week. Giving voice to many, many of last week’s commenters on this here recap, they yell at Kristina for not disciplining Max for his offenses. (I could imagine all who commented standing up and cheering as this scene played out. Was I right?) Suddenly, Adam shows up out of nowhere. “I’m sorry your daughter is uncomfortable …” he begins. Uncomfortable? UNCOMFORTABLE? He calls BS on Max getting physical with Dylan and loudly accuses her mother and father of being absentee parents. “You only see through the eyes of your son, obviously,” they spit at Adam. I hope all of you didn’t sit down, just to have to stand and cheer again.

Dylan and her parents finally get apologies from Kristina and Max (after Adam and Kristina have another involved discussion with him about that whole confusing “scale of affection”) and for all intents and purposes we’re supposed to believe that this story line—this story line that has taken up about 75 percent of the last few episodes—is all wrapped up and tied neatly with a bow. I call foul. Foul that the parents so easily accepted Max’s abrupt apology, foul that they didn’t expect one from Adam, and foul that after knowing how headmaster Braverman “handled” the horrible and frightening situation they’d be so quick to entrust her with their daughter again.

Moving on from one infuriating teen to another; let’s talk about Ruby. Actually, let’s talk about Sarah, but as usual, Sarah’s story line is all wrapped up in Ruby’s. Thankfully for all of us viewers (and for Hank, Sandy, and Sarah), Ruby is the good witch this week and very excited to play the part of “Sandy” in her school’s production of Grease. When Sandy, Hank, and Sarah are waiting for the show to start, Sarah’s old fiancee, Mark Cyr (Jason Ritter) appears on stage and makes eye contact with Sarah. Awkward! After seeing their uncomfortable interaction after the show, Hank jumps to the conclusion that there still might be something there and lays his heart out on the line for Sarah … in Hank style (bumbling his words and with little eye contact). He tells her that she’s the best thing that ever happened to him and that he’s working on communicating with her. Aww. Almost makes me take back that comment I made earlier about him being old and tiresome. Almost.

The next night, after Mark and Sarah have a one-on-one conversation (Mark is going to be a father!) it’s clear to both of them that they’ve moved on. “I’m glad I knew you,” Sarah tells him with teary eyes. “I’m really glad I knew you, too,” he responds. For those of you hoping for a Sarah/Mark reconciliation, my condolences.

Later, Hank wonders aloud if Sarah is happy. Tells her he knows he has baggage. Way to call it like we all see it, Hank. He wonders if this is really where she wants to be. Cue Ruby the bad witch storming in, yelling incoherently at her mother. Strangely enough, Sarah tells Hank there’s nowhere she’d rather be. “HOW ABOUT IN AFRICA WITH DR. CARL?” I shout, but clearly she cannot hear me. I just don’t get it, but I love Sarah so much I’m glad she’s happy. I guess.

NEXT: Julia can’t forget, but can she forgive?