Parenthood Recap: Labors of Love

Parenthood Season 6 Episode 8

A few months back, I chatted with a friend’s mom about Parenthood — well, more accurately, she asked what my favorite TV show currently was, and I went on a several-minute-long sales pitch for the NBC drama, because nothing is more enticing than the words, “You’ll cry at least once in every episode!”, right?

I recall this story because Thursday’s episode of Parenthood did the exact thing my friend’s mom said it did: It portrayed real life a little too well. In this week’s installment — the last before the Nov. 20 fall finale, which looks like a doozy — those of us watching at home got a spot-on portrayal of (1) the heartache that follows your first unrequited crush, (2) the vicious nature of teenagers (no one asked for your opinion, Dylan’s Rude Friends!), (3) the dark cloud called “financial troubles” that won’t stop looming over your head in adulthood and a myriad of other harsh realities.

Let’s take them one by one, shall we?

RELATED Parenthood Spoilers: Will Joel and Julia Get Back Together?

KISS & TELL | First, there’s Max, who is dealt a crushing blow when he spies Dylan kissing a classmate, Aaron Brownstein, in the kitchen at school. (And at least where hairstyles are concerned, it seems Dylan’s sort of got a type, right?) Max processes the heartbreak in the only ways he knows how: passing out fliers advertising the “menace” Aaron truly is; telling Dylan he’s no longer her friend; and, worst of all, lashing out at Aaron physically after he calls Max a “little bitch,” which is an insult that should probably be left to the comments section of YouTube.

Dylan — who’s already admitted to Kristina that she’ll never like Max in the same way, no matter how fluid the scale of affection might be — is forced to deliver the same bad news to Max, after he approaches her with a handmade poster of Dylan photos. And tells her all the reasons he likes her. And comments on how compatible the Internet tells him they are. Dylan doesn’t take too well to his profession of love — no thanks to her remarkably unhelpful friends! — and Max runs straight out of school, where Headmaster/Mom/Superwoman Kristina follows. She assures Max that what he said to Dylan was so, so brave, even though it hurts right now. (And if it makes you feel any better, Max, I asked my junior prom date if he would go to the dance with me in high school, and it ranks in the Top 10 Most Nervewracking Moments of My Life. Spoiler alert: He and I were not meant to be.)

HATE IS A STRONG WORD | But Max wasn’t the only one dealing with teenage drama. When Hank allows Ruby to stay at her mom’s place without supervision for one night, the whole night falls apart when Hank discovers Ruby lied to his face and threw a party in Sandy’s absence. (She’s a great BSer, though, I’ll give her that. “Watching” a Real Housewives marathon? The party only started out as four friends? I respect your style, girl.)

Fortunately, this parenting obstacle provides yet another bonding moment for Hank and Sandy, especially when Sandy assures her ex that there are lots more “I hate you”s on the horizon for Ruby. Plus, food for thought: Considering Sarah wasn’t around this week, and Mark Cyr is slated to return in next week’s episode, and Hank and Sandy are mending fences… what do we think the endgame is here? Are Hank and Sandy meant to be reunited? Is Sarah slooooowly getting pushed out of the picture? Decide in the comments! (And don’t worry about Ruby hating her dad. She cuts him some slack as soon as the next morning, when Hank sweetly offers to teach her the game of poker.)

MONEY MATTERS | That leaves Jasmine, Crosby, Amber and Drew, who find themselves dealing with more financial woes this week. How bad is it, you ask? The Luncheonette is now California’s No. 1 hot recording studio for cat food jingles. Yeah, it’s pretty dismal. Fortunately, Amber convinces Crosby to see a show at The Elbo Room, where they could potentially sign the show’s headlining band (and, ideally, change their name from Corn-Fed to literally anything else in the world). Considering Jasmine has taken a ho-hum administrative job at her mom’s office just to make ends meet, Crosby decides to take the leap of musical faith with Amber… until Amber experiences what she thinks are labor pains while they’re in line for the club and has to rush to the hospital.

The pains turn out to be incredibly common Braxton Hicks contractions — there’s no way they would’ve let Amber give birth while Sarah was in Napa, would they?! — and after Amber’s worries subside, she assures Drew he doesn’t have to sell his soul to an economics major just so he can help out with the baby. Plus, Jasmine tries her best to convince Crosby that he’s far from a failure — even if his dreams of a Luncheonette success story don’t come to fruition. “We’ll all get our time to shine,” Jasmine promises — and that’s a wrap on Episode 8!

What did you think of the episode? Are you excited for Mark’s return next week? Hit the comments with your thoughts!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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68 Comments
  1. Superhero says:

    I’m more than a little bit baffled that anybody could possibly look at Max’s harassment of the poor girl as “brave.” It was not brave, it was horrifying, and she responded the only way any rational person possibly could. Asberger’s or no Asberger’s, it is NOT okay to treat a person that way.

    • Diane says:

      Completely 100% agree

    • Mike says:

      Who writes this show and what world do they come from? It is as if they live in a land of no consequences and it is never any child’s fault for their own behavior. Last year Max as “bullied” they start a school, this year he attacks a boy who kissed a he liked, hands out flyers and he is brave? They should remain this season of the show, as “Parentless hood” because a no decent parent would like the children on this act the way they do.

      • TV Gord says:

        The story’s not over yet. The point of tonight’s story through my eyes is that Kristina isn’t handling Max very well. He hasn’t learned to control his emotions now that puberty has hit. It’s up to his parents to guide him with a firm and consistent hand. I look forward to seeing what happens when Max’s dad returns home!

    • Kim R says:

      I also 100% agree. I really thought that Christine was going to struggle with but come to realize that she had to discipline Max as the school’s head and then deal with it at home as well. I was shocked with the “you were so brave” conversation. Especially for someone like Max. It needs it to be black and white for him. This was unacceptable to do to another person. I felt so bad for Dillan, who tried her best to get him to stop in a kind way. The force he was coming at her with was frightening. And the flyers against the other boy? I thought when Dillan came to Christine’s door that evening it was going to be the other boy’s parents.
      All this said, the kid that plays Max should really get an award. He is amazing. :)

    • Velocisexual says:

      You do realize his behaviour can be both “brave” and “horrifying” at the same time right? Dylan isn’t an innocent victim in this story. Her actions have consequences too. This is a (harsh) learning experience for both of them.

      Also its Aspergers.

      • What, exactly, was problematic about Dylan’s behavior? I absolutely agree with your first statement but I am baffled as to your evaluation of Dylan.

        • leading Max on for months? constantly sleeping over at their house? I mean c’mon, she’s not some innocent wallflower here

          • TV Gord says:

            She was being his friend.

          • Velocisexual says:

            No Gord, she specifically told him there was a possibility of being more than friends. She may not have intended for any of this to happen and she’s only a 16 yr old teenage girl, but she did, through her actions, cause this situation to happen, intentional or not.

          • TV Gord says:

            Velocisexual, thanks. I’ll be watching it again this weekend. I’ll consider what you’ve written as I give it a second look! :-)

        • Velocisexual says:

          As Matthew says, Dylan isn’t some innocent bystander. Her actions are partially responsible for bringing this awkward and painful incident to life. But for some reason if a girl is made uncomfortable the majority of people seem to have a kneejerk protective reaction even if the girl isn’t innocent at all.

          What Parenthood was trying to show was that everyone involved screwed up in some way and caused things to get out of hand. Max and Dylan, but also Adam and Kristina for handling this pretty badly. And these things happen, life is messy and life for someone with Aspergers is extra messy, especially for someone like Max who is so far on the spectrum he’s close to being autistic.

    • Thank you for the comment. I was wondering the same thing. I think that Christina and Adam are great parents, as it would be extraordinarily difficult to raise a kid with such severe Aspergers. That said, I was puzzled why Christina gave Dylan such a nasty/disappointing look after the poor girl reacted in the cafeteria and was then a little more surprised that she didn’t discuss boundaries with her son. The only person I truly felt sorry for was Dylan, a girl who reached out to the Bravermans, who tolerated(quite well, considering her own problems)Max’ issues and, through all that harassment, handled Max’ outburst quite well.

      While it is important to encourage a kid like Max to put himself out there, to love, to try, it is also important to take into consideration the other party involved.

    • Speaking as a parent with a child on the Autism spectrum, Kristna handled it EXACTLY how she’s suppose to! Kids like Max cannot comprehend their actions, he wouldn’t understand what he did was wrong and to confront him without first calming him down would have been fruitless. She first has to reassure him that everything is ok, this show is only an hour, they can’t attack everything at once. Even though Max is a teen, his mind wouldn’t have processed this situation as a teen or even a 7 year old would, he will just lash out. Punishing him wouldn’t work, because he wouldn’t fully comprehend what he did was wrong. You have to basically have to talk them off the ledge. Had they protrayed this any other way would have been a slap in the face of all parents dealing with this on a regular! There aren’t any books, counselors, etc…that can completely teach you how to control this behavior, if there was, we wouldn’t have to send our children to a different school! My point being…leave it alone, unless you can walked a mile, don’t attempt to get on the track. Unfortunately, this will always be a lose/lose situation to a parent who doesn’t relate, because they will always try to find a solution when there isn’t one. You just have to hope that one day he/she will just move on.

    • Mellie says:

      The fact that his mother reinforced his behaviour was disgusting to me. Yes, he has aspergers, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be trying to teach him more appropriate ways to handle his feelings. I was so angry… Also, if any of the other kids treated Max the way he treated the other kid, she would expel them so fast. I was pretty disgusted with Kristina this episode.

    • melliemd says:

      The fact that his mother reinforced his behaviour was disgusting to me. Yes, he has aspergers, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be trying to teach him more appropriate ways to handle his feelings. I was so angry… Also, if any of the other kids treated Max the way he treated the other kid, she would expel them so fast. I was pretty disgusted with Kristina this episode.

  2. shelly says:

    I have enjoyed this show since the beginning, but this has got to be one of the worst I have seen. After last week’s cliff hanger with Joel and Julia, we have to endure that awful hank and his daughter storyline and insufferable max and Dylan. With only six episodes left, this was extremely disapointing.

    • Ann says:

      EXACTLY! I don’t care about Hank and his kid problems…this show is about the Bravermans…not whatever Hank’s last name is…does he even have a last name? I get that he’s Sarah’s boyfriend, but she needs to hurry up and dump him because everyone watching this show knows that relationship will not work out anyways, I’m suprised she stuck with him this long; she probably feels like she can change him. I want to get off the Hank storyline and focus back on the family that we want to see in the remaining episodes!

    • sigh says:

      EXACTLY how I felt. It was especially weird to have it revolve around Hank/Ruby when Sarah wasn’t even there. Love Ray Ramano, but he isn’t why I watch Parenthood.

    • T says:

      Agreed. This episode seemed like the writers were phoning it in. This was not their best effort.

  3. jj says:

    Agree with earlier comments. Max needs consequences, logical and unemotional consequences. His behavior tonight was scarey for this girl, for the school. And his mom tells him he’s “brave”? Yikes. Ruby throws a party, disrespecting her mother’s home, breaking trust, and Hank cleans it up? Yikes, again. Worst episode of Parenthood in a long time.

    • Saabgirlatx says:

      Where are the teachers/supervisors at this school??? Bad call parenthood casting dept. With a building full of kids on the spectrum you’d think there would be hall monitors/staff present at all times. I get he story was about Max dealing with unrequited love but yes, he needs to learn how to treat others properly.
      And about the Ruby party storyline, the only thing that was unrealistic was how pleasant Ruby was the next morning. She’s been a pill all season and they show hew all smiley and sweet after being grounded? Nope.

    • Will says:

      See for me it seemed real and genuine. No his behavior was out of line…but from season 1 of parenthood…Max hasn’t really shown interest in people beyond what they could do for him. It is an Asperger thing. We’ve watched his parents search for any way to connect emotionally…only for them to get little victories. I can see Kristina reacting as a mother here. Her son just got his heart broken and if she comes down too hard…he could retreat further. It’s a nuanced performance. I’m sure they’ll address the actions…but I understand how they went this way. Maybe u need a special needs kid to truly get it.

      • mo says:

        I agree, but then, I have 2 kids on the spectrum – with mild to moderate Asperger’s. On the other hand, we do address consequences right away and I would have handled that differently. Either way, I thought that the fact that he shows to express his feelings WAS brave. As his mom, I would have understood that he didn’t see she was scared. BUT, as a woman, I would understood how scary that must feel and intervened. Either way, it made sense to me. And I agree that there are some things on the show you won’t understand unless that’s a part of your life.

  4. Sam says:

    Guh haven’t seen this episode just yet but the focus on Max and Hank are sure to have me skipping through a lot of it. :/

    • TV Gord says:

      I’m the exact opposite. I love Max’s and Hank’s storylines! I get tired of all of the whining about Ray Romano not being a Braverman. He’s a member of the cast, so his storyline is just as valid as anyone else’s.

  5. Tran says:

    This is why you don’t mess with Max Braverman whether or not he has Asperger’s. Next week’s episode is a must-see when Mark Cyr aka Jason Ritter returns as the love triangle is revisited (Sarah/Hank/Mark) and Zeek’s life hangs in the balance. KLEENEX ANYONE?

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  7. Matthew says:

    All I know is that the kid who plays Max is phenomenal. His character might be “annoying” at times but he can act his ass off. As far as his storyline tonight is concerned, it was meant to be debated. Some look at his behavior tonight as scary and unacceptable, while others look at it as brave. Personally, yeah… He could’ve gone about it a different way, but how did you guys expect him to react? It’s true to his character. He doesn’t know any better. It’s a learning experience, the first time he’s ever dealt with something like this. Had he reacted in any other fashion, it wouldn’t have been true to his character. The fact that he put himself out there the way in which he did, I think it was brave. With that said, no person should be harassed, especially a child, but again, keeping this strictly within the parameters of the show, it was “brave” for that character. Nothing more, nothing less.

  8. ben says:

    Once again nbc ruins the next twist with their promos. Alk you head to see was the scenes for the next episode to know who is involved in the shocking. Health iasues. Why does nbc give away plot points with their spoiler promos?

    • SUE says:

      Actually rumors are rampant that Crosby will die…. Perhaps the promo with zero in bed bug eyed is when he receives the news. First Crosby gets in an accident and doesn’t see a doctor, then we see him again without a helmet.. Would hate for that to happen but I wouldn’t be surprised….

      • Ann says:

        OH. I totally see it now. Crosby dies in an accident and his heart gets transplanted to his father, so that his father can live…that would be an unexpected twist…

        • Sue McGuire says:

          Wow, I never would have thought about the possibility of Zeek taking Crosby’s heart….That would be pretty over the top…but the more I think about it, I can imagine the following: Crosby signs a big act like Corn-Fed, is elated, and hops on his motorcycle to tell his family and wham! gets into a fatal accident. A cruel twist of fate for poor Cros, but that’s the whole zeek dying is way too predictable.

  9. Joanne says:

    Kristina’s parenting drives me crazy. Great that she empathizes and builds him up but how about teaching him how he made Dylan feel by mortifying her in front if the whole school. Does she EVER teach vs enable this kid? She had me screaming at the TV

  10. Sally Mander says:

    This was the worst episode I’ve ever seen. Only one of the original cast was in it? How much are they paying Ray Ramono? You’d think they could pay the original cast members instead of him. If this show wasn’t almost over I’d give up on it.

    • mo says:

      Kristina, Max, Jasmine, Crosby, Amber, Drew and (albeit briefly) Camille. That’s more than one by my count.

      • Velocisexual says:

        I think he means only 1 of the 4 siblings (no julia/adam/sarah)

        • TV Gord says:

          Five siblings.

          • TV Gord says:

            Sorry. My mistake. I’ve got the Friday fatigues.

            mo is correct, though. It’s really reaching to think of the four siblings as the only cast members who matter. That’s taking nitpicking to a whole new level.

            Face it, Hank-haters. The show isn’t called The Bravermans. It’s called Parenthood, and there was a lot of it going on during this week’s show.

  11. Sarah T. says:

    I was more than a little frustrated that so much of tonight’s episode focused on Hank/annoying daughter Ruby. Honestly, for a show that usually hits it out of the park, this was a big misstep, mainly because there are so few episodes back so I want to get my Bravermans in as much as possible. I’m not sure what the writers were thinking about that.
    I have mixed feelings regarding the Max debacle. I thought Christina should have disciplined him at school at the very least. I agree though that the actor who plays Max is fantastic.
    And really, no Joel and Julia??!! The episode was a little lackluster but I’m willing to overlook it.
    Just to clarify though, is next week’s episode the Fall Finale or the Series Finale? I know this is a shortened season so I wasn’t sure if we had hit our 13 episode quota yet and next week is the final episode ever (insert sad face).

  12. Nancy Thomas-Kremmer says:

    I agree with where was the rest of the staff at the school? And who took care of Dylan’s feelings about being the object of such an over the top tirade? She was the victim, not Max. There is no way Kristina should be the head of this school if she can’t be objective enough to care about all the students’ welfare. I can see her going after Max, but it should have been made clear that Dylan wasn’t just abandoned. I can imagine this happening in real life, but, if it did, I would hope that both Kristina and Max would experience some negative consequences related to their controlling behavior.

  13. Tom says:

    Look, I get that they had to work around the actors’ schedules due to budgetary adjustments but focusing this much on Hank and Ruby in the shows final season is too much. It was one thing when Sarah was involved. But an episode sans Sarah should be sans Hank and Ruby. I love Ray Romano and the Hank character. I think Sarah should be with Hank. But he is still supposed to be a peripheral character–an extension of Sarah. He’s not a main character. It’d be like it the whole episode focused on Drew’s girlfriend without Drew in it. It doesn’t make sense.
    On the Max front, usually I’m all on board with Kristina but she needed to explain to Max that while it was brave to express his feelings, that behavior (both fights with Aaron brown stein and Dylan) are unacceptable and non-negotiable. Something like “I’m so proud of you for being so brave in expressing how you felt but the aggressive behavior is unacceptable” would’ve worked for me.

  14. Adam says:

    Maybe I’m alone but this season seems like every other week is a really good / great episode with ‘so so’ episodes mixed in between -Last week was great, this week was ‘so so’, and next week looks to be really good again, etc.

    Not every main character is in every episode nor have they ever been, but this season “seems” much more than before. 2 weeks without Adam, for example? The Mark Cyr storyline has been revisited more than enough, now they are doing it again….. really?

    Still love the show and won’t miss an episode though.

  15. zack williams says:

    I have aspergers too since i was 15. But i had never done anything like max did in this episode. Kristina needs to punish him harder and give him tough love about girls and stuff not telling that she is proud of him. that is too annoying.

    • TV Gord says:

      That’s why Asperger’s is a spectrum. No two people are going to react in the exact same way. I was also disturbed by how borderline-violent Max was getting, but I was more disturbed by the way his mother handled it. I think she’s the one who will be learning more out of this storyline, as it progresses.

  16. T says:

    With how despondent they’re making Crosby seem regarding finances, etc – I can’t help but wonder if they’re setting things up for a suicide scenario.

  17. Zenobia Jackson says:

    I love Parenthood and I am thankful that NBC is giving it this shortened season send off…that was great considering the low ratings. However, I am really disappointed that they producers wasted the screen time and budget on Ray Romano and his annoying TV wife and child. That time and money would have been better spent on the Bravermans…there are a bunch of them.

  18. schu says:

    In agreement of many of the comments, I don’t understand why any of the writers thought focusing so much on Hank and his family this last season was a good idea. I still think all the acting and storylines are well done and appropriate for the show, I’ll cherish every episode till the bitter end, but really why? I think all viewers would have much preferred to see Adam/Sarah in the episode instead of Hank.

  19. Tammy says:

    So was part of the renewal deal to have all the mason characters skip an episode? In other words they were contracted to do 11 or of 13 episodes this time? (Or how ever many episodes we had this time) just seemed lacking. Didn’t seem like the next to last episode.

  20. Marie says:

    In the recap (last paragraph) there’s a line “there’s no way they would’ve let Amber give birth while Sarah was in Napa, would they?” that makes no sense – Napa is less than an hour’s drive from Berkeley. Of course they wouldn’t have Amber give birth without Sarah around, but get a grip as to why.

  21. kriste says:

    As someone who works at a school for students with behavioral challenges, including Autism, I can tell you that Headmaster Kristina would be on the phone all night dealing with angry parents asking why Max wasn’t disciplined for the fliers and the fighting. Kristina started the school after a bullying incident with Max where no one was punished. Now she does the same to another student? I also agree with other posters about the scenes at the school. There would have to be heavy monitoring of the students as there is a high risk of conflict at all times with this population. Students would not be lounging around on couches smiling at one another. This story line is very unrealistic. What isn’t unrealistic is Max’s performance. He has really done his homework.

  22. JB says:

    This is for @amandagriffin:

    Speaking as a parent of a teenager with with Aspergers, I 100% disagree with you. Kristina handled the situation poorly, as she usually does. There is a myth going around that kids with Aspergers cannot and should not be disciplined because they don’t know better. Absolute BS and the countless Dr’s that my son has seen over the 12 yrs since his diagnosis at age 5 will agree. They do have emotions, but they also act out in ways that they shouldn’t and they can be taught how to properly respond and handle disappointment. Kristina & Adam have coddled Max from the beginning making everyone special handle him when that is not the case.

    Now before you say otherwise, I know many other parents(two of my very best friends have sons with Aspergers-one I’ve known for over 20 yrs, the other we bonded because of our sons-not to mention I’ve known other kids with Aspergers over the past decade due to my child) who absolutely discipline their children with Aspergers. They are taught right and wrong. Now keep in mind most people with Aspergers are fairly “normal” in regard to functioning. They do have the capability to feel empathy & sympathy. Sometimes they do get obsessive but it’s OUR jobs as parents to constantly explain what good behaviour is and what stalking is. My son gets hung up on girls like Max did with Dylan. He’s become overly obsessive to the point that he walks the dog past her house every fricking day for a while. And guess what? Once I realized what he was doing(a friend lives across from the girl and told me she was seeing him & the dog all the time) I had to put a stop to it. He got it. He understood. He did’t like it but he stopped the behavior. Because people with Aspergers CAN learn & control themselves.

    In fact the Max storyline the last few years has gone from one I admired to one I’ve despised because honestly, I think Max is on a much higher/near autistic scale than an Aspergers in the way he reacts & functions. And I think that they have done a disservice to those with Aspergers by portraying him as someone who is constantly demanding, obtrusive, angry and out of control. And then we watch as Kristina goes “hmmm Maxxxx” with a vacant look on her face.

    When my kid has gotten angry like Max has? Pffttt He loses privileges. He gets grounded. And the Dr’s agree this is the right discipline. We don’t coddle him & tell him he’s brave. He wasn’t brave for showing emotion, he was STALKING the girl.

    I hated this week’s episode. My husband hated this week’s episode. My ex-husband(son’s dad) also hated it. We all agreed they’ve gone over the top & off the bend regarding how they portray Max and how they depict teens with Aspergers. Because most teens have already been through counseling for years & help with social groups in school therapy to learn how to handle themselves. And most do NOT have to go to special schools at all.