February 1, 2012

Parenthood tv show vs. real Parenthood

Nothing gets a tear out of me quicker than Parenthood.  I have fallen in love with these characters--Zeek and Camille, Sarah, Crosby, Adam, Christina, Amber...their complexities, their authenticity.  Parenthood inspires me, makes me want to have four children and grow old with them in the same town and have outdoor dinners with twinkly lights.

But this show is tricky. With its authentic story lines, real life conundrums, parent-child pain so expertly delineated, we just might think that it's Real.  [Or this post is really just for me: I just might think that it's real.]  Their real human chaos--the artful overlapping dialogue, the gently messy kitchens, the raw, but staged human emotion--is still Hollywood-sanitized.

The chaos is beautifully contained.  We get just enough chaos to be convinced that this is real life, but just enough containment to keep us idealized with their designer homes and even quaint lower-income apartments.

Christina decides to go back to work with after how many years? leaving her 3-month-old baby, autistic pre-adolescent son, and angsty-high school senior daughter. There's just enough chaos to demonstrate that it's hard and complex for her to return to work.  But, any home with two-working parents knows that this kind of radical, earth-shaking, monstrously difficult task as managing a home with a newborn, an austic son, and college-prep daughter would bring any solid, mature marriage to its knees. Perhaps in further episodes we will get more of than a taste of it, but for the most part it gives us just enough to be believable, but not enough to be real.

Parenthood is a little dangerous for us.  Despite its real life scenarios and relationships, it keeps us in Hollywood land.  For me, who struggles with idealism vs. reality, this makes me love it and hate it.  I would much rather live in the house that only gets somewhat messy and the newborn who seems to only change a mother's life by the sight of the infant basket in the master bedroom.  Real life is much, much more difficult.   Parenthood is fun only when we keep in mind that it's not real.  For the moms (and dads) out there, who find solace and comfort in Parenthood, may we keep remembering that the Real is much harder then any show idealizes. Parenthood is trying to compare to us and the incredibly courageous lives we lead, rather than being an act for us to follow.

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