Parenthood Recap: Past Imperfect

Parenthood Season 6 Fall Finale

The return of a familiar face, wistful memories of a European adventure, an emotionally loaded Italian dinner — yep, “nostalgia” was the magic word for many characters on Thursday’s Parenthood.

But did all those fond reminiscences end well? In some cases, yes. (FINALLY, JOEL AND JULIA.) In others… well, let’s just say Jan. 8 can’t come soon enough.

Here’s how the evening played out for the Bravermans & Co. in this week’s fall finale:

JOEL & JULIA | Let’s start out with the no-longer-estranged couple, because their final scene in Thursday’s episode has legitimately put a bounce in my step. (Am I embarrassed of this fact? Not even a little.) Julia begins the hour with plans to meet Joel for lunch — a lunch that she promises a frustrated Chris will include the signing of those divorce papers. But Joel has other plans once his wife arrives at the restaurant, the same place where they dined on their first date and when Julia found out she was pregnant with Sydney. Although Julia is ready to put pen to paper, Joel gives a helluva tear-inducing monologue, promising Julia that although he walked out on the vows they made to each other, he’s never stopped loving her — and he’ll honor her for the rest of his days, if she’ll have him. (Sorry, just give me a second to stop sobbing real quick.)

This time, it’s Julia who walks out, leaving the restaurant with a whole lot on her mind — and some very blank divorce papers. Irked by how long Julia’s been delaying the divorce, Chris decides to call their relationship quits, and Julia runs to Camille with her love conundrum. (Side note: Doesn’t it feel like ages since one of the Braverman kids got advice from Zeek and/or Camille? I understand the need for very separate storylines this season, but boy, have I missed the family actually interacting.) One thing I’ve always loved about Camille is her ability to make every problem seem like the most manageable thing in the world, and that’s no different in her chat with Julia. “You know what marriage is all about? Forgiveness,” Camille informs her daughter — but Julia’s not so sure she can take that step with a man who bailed on her when the going got tough.

Just when I’m thinking all hope really is lost for the couple, Joel and Julia finally get their heads on straight (and their bodies very close) later that evening. Julia bursts in to Joel’s place, defiantly signs the divorce papers and, after Joel follows suit (asking her before he does, “This is really what you want?”), the pair realizes the weight of what those signatures mean — so they kiss! Finally! Pop quiz: Was I yelling “Come on already!” at my TV screen during this climactic moment? Answer: Obviously. And although there are still fences to be mended between the two, I think things are headed in the right direction for Joel and Julia. Like, horizontally. On Joel’s couch.

Parenthood Season 6 Fall FinaleSARAH & HANK | Perhaps no one experienced a bigger time warp this week than Sarah, who encountered Mark Cyr for the first time since learning of his engagement last season. Mark’s filling in for the high school drama teacher during Ruby’s run in the school play which, first off, brings up two very important questions:

1) Who would have pegged Ruby for a theater lover?

2) Why didn’t anyone make the obvious joke about Ruby playing Sandy in Grease, when her mom is also named Sandy? That’s comedy gold, people! (Update: I have since learned that this joke was made. I will blame my oversight on Jason Ritter’s endless, distracting charm.)

Anyway, Sarah and Mark get a chance to catch up the next evening, and after she drops Amber’s baby news on him, he lets Sarah know he’s also about to be a dad. (Little-known fact: No one does a better “crestfallen-but-trying-to-hide-it” face than Lauren Graham.) Since this seems like the really real last time we’ll see Mark before series’ end, Sarah and her former fiancee admit they’re glad to have known each other. (Sniff.) And although Hank questions if Sarah is really happy with him and all his emotional baggage, she sweetly assures him at the end of the episode that there’s no place she’d rather be. (Cue up that Clean Bandit song!)

KRISTINA & ADAM | The Saga of Max and Dylan isn’t yet over in this week’s episode. In fact, it comes to a head at Chambers Academy’s open house, where Dylan accuses Max of harassment after he makes uncomfortable physical contact with her. Dylan’s little-seen parents make a scene at the school, accusing Kristina and Adam of lacking discipline for their son. (Which, considering last week’s outburst, they sorta are.) After Dylan’s parents threaten to pull her out of Chambers, Adam and Kristina have a long overdue chat with Max about how sometimes, the scale of affection simply isn’t fluid, and Max’s feelings for Dylan might never be reciprocated. Fortunately, Max gets the picture, so the Bravermans venture to Dylan’s place, apologize profusely and convince Dylan’s parents to let her stay at Chambers Academy at least until the school year is over.

ZEEK & CAMILLE | On this episode of Californian Adventures with Drew and Zeek, the Braverman patriarch enlists his grandson to book a vacation to France, where he’d like to surprise Camille with a trip to a bed-and-breakfast he stayed at many moons ago. Unfortunately, Drew’s concern about Zeek’s health leads him to tell Camille about Zeek’s travel plans — and Zeek doesn’t take too well to Drew’s blabbing. On the bright side, Camille is completely moved by Zeek’s plan to surprise her with a French adventure, and they agree to book the trip once they’re both in the know. But as we see in the episode’s final minutes, that trip will have to be postponed: Zeek awakes at 3:16 that morning, unable to move his body, and begs Camille to call an ambulance. (Nooo!)

OK, your turn. What did you think of the fall finale? Grade the episode via our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!

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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  1. nikki says:

    The show can’t end with Zeek dying or dead. It just can’t. I want everyone to live happily ever after.

    • Carla Krae says:

      Agreed. There’s no need for it. The health scare is enough without going all the way to a funeral.

    • JW says:

      They already did a health scare for Zeek. If this was just another stupid repetitive cliff hanger, I’m so done with this show,

      This last episode really bothered me.

      Not only the Zeek cliffhanger, but especially the whole Max issue and a simple tslking to despite it being sexual harassment. And don’t get me started on how it got that far without being dealt with after the first flyer incident,

      Terrible writing,

      I’ve been a die hard fan of this show since day one, but this season is just bad. Repetitive plots. Not delaying properly eith serious issues like stalking and assault,

      • kate'shomesick says:

        It’s NOT sexual harassment-like at all. That’s a kid we are talking about and a kid with autism…he’ll likely will have problems with understandig other peoples behaviours, boundaries and building relationships all his life…also he’s probably had a lot less sexual experimentation with others because of his condition (which normal kids start around age three)…so it would be perfectly understandable for him to not have learned where the boundaries are. What would you have done? Punish a boy that is completely confused as it is and didn’t do anything with bad intentions…the only way is to talk, explain, try to make him understand…

        • JW says:

          She told him to STOP. more than once, thst IS EXACTLY sexual harassment.

          Are there reasons for it. Sure. BUT that doesn’t change the fact it WAS.

          When the parents were asked if it was by max, they LIED. Instead of dealing with the fact it was and tslking shut thwt,

        • Linda says:

          Thank you for this. I am discouraged by the ultra-punitive responses to Max’s behavior.

        • Michelle R. says:

          Yes, there are reasons for Max’s boundary issues, but that doesn’t make it okay to make Dylan that uncomfortable. The fault lies with Adam and Kristina not seeing the problem and talking to Max (until yesterday) about no meaning no.

        • Ziyal says:

          Max might not have been right to punish Max but it needed to have been dealt with immediately. Regardless od Max’s reasons, Dylan was the victim and she should’ve been protected regardless of Max’s reasons.

          When Kristina &Adam finally talked to Max, they did okay but then made a COLOSSAl mistake by telling him that it was not sex harassment. Regardless of Max’s intentions, what he did was wring and sexual harassment and the sooner he learns to realize that certain elements of behavior could be classified as illegal the sooner he will learn.

          Its like when a child plays with matches and sets the house in fire. The fact that he didnt mean to set the house in fire doesnt mean that what he did wasnt WRONG.

          There ARE ways of making kids understand that what they do is wrong without punishing them.

      • skscott says:

        Sorry but “‘done with the show” UMMM ya … the show is DONE.. so wont really matter .. BUT I do agree I do not need another scare.. He dies.

  2. Jog says:

    There’s just no forgiving how boring this final season is. Christina and Adam continue to be the worst parents ever, Julia and Joel are taking forever to get over a split that should have never happened and was contrived in the first place, who cares about ANYTHING that’s going on with Hank, and Zeek’s health is in danger AGAIN. Honestly I loved parenthood but I’m at the point where I’m just reading the recaps now.

    • Sarah says:

      I completely agree with you. I loved Parenthood for years, but this season is making it easier for me to say goodbye.

    • George B. Furtado ( Kekoa) says:

      You are correct Adam. Cluttered with too many contrived emotions. The writing has focused on conjured crisis on forced relationships. They are ending what was once a decent series – about a typical dysfunctional family, and reduced it to a bucket of tears. I’ve always had issues about the J&J divorce storyline. Julia’s adulterous and salacious adventures should have been revealed to Joel in the series opener. Now THAT would have made it a truly interesting and engaging plot to end the series! No question that this would lead to a more realistic finale. Every memory he brought up in the lunch scene with Julia that made her feel so guilty was like the fuse being lit. Then, her explosive scene back at the office with Chris could have been widened to show Joel standing witness at the open office door. Of course he should have followed her back to the office! It’s what a guy who is fighting for his wife back would have done. I would’ve loved to see Joel push Chris to the side with the same force he used on Ed…grab the divorce papers and tear it up in front of Julia, turn around and walk out. The ball is left bouncing on the divorce court until the next episode.

    • Mark J says:

      I started watching this episode but ended up just reading this recap. The J&J storyline is silly. He keeps saying it was all his fault but really she was the total bitch in the relationship — couldn’t deal with the change in dynamic when he returned to work and she was home.

      And am I the only one tired of this ad-lib acting style? Some are better than others. Meg is the absolute worst. I can’t watch any of her scenes. And her pregnancy is just boring.

      Actually, the entire season is boring. Gloom and despair everywhere. Bleh.

      • T says:

        Thank you! Finally someone agrees that a lot of the blame falls on Julia. She gave up when things got rough and she quit her job (w/out discussing w/ Joel) and didn’t like the consequences of that decision. Then, she HAD AN AFFAIR and expected Joel to just be okay with it! I wish they’d either decide to work it out or cut ties and move on already!

    • herman1959 says:

      Me too. I did watch the season premiere, but now I’m reading the recaps in order to be ready for the series finale episode which I will watch.

  3. Joey Padron says:

    Great & emotional episode. Happy Joel & Julia kissed. Not good what happened to Zeek. Previews for next new episode airing next year looks bad for Zeek.

  4. Lex says:

    This final season just keeps getting better. I can’t make it through one episode without crying! Each episode is worthy enough to be the final episode. The actors have brought their A game everytime. These characters are the most human, real and relatable characters on TV.

  5. Gary says:

    Great episode and recap! They did make the Sandy joke when Sandy met Mark. She said something along the lines of “my name is Sandy, she’s playing Sandy…” Didn’t play it out as comedy gold, but I suppose they took a whack at it.

  6. Velocisexual says:

    Godawful parenting/pincipaling from Kristina. For people who are upset about what happened with Max and Dylan this episode, it’s not Max you should blame, it’s Kristina.

    Great episode though,but I’m really hoping we’ll see more family interaction in the 2nd half of the season (they kinda have to with Zeke in the hospital and/or dead don’t they?).

    • Saabgirlatx says:

      Yes where are the teachers trained to work with kids on the spectrum at Chambers academy because I doubt Kristina is qualified. Also, continuity issue: why was Ruby dressed as good Sandy after the play when we all know the show ends with “bad” or cool Sandy…

      • JoAnne says:

        Parenthood has been one of my favorite series, been watching from the beginning. I love this family and all the drama of the different people in the family. This year I have cried
        a lot…Most of these stories really touched my heart, almost every week. I want Julia and Joel to work things out, always thought they were such a terrific couple. Yeah for them and their .kids, who really need both of their parents! No matter what others say….I love this show and will miss it when it is gone!

      • aw says:

        I think her “good Sandy” costume was still on her person because she dressed up in it and did not go on – as the other girl had recovered. And then she must have thrown a fit, that’s why Mr. Cyr came to get the parents. Coming home she still was throwing her fit, so she never got out of it.

        Boy, do I look forward to my kids bing teenagers…

        I really love this show. Wish it would stay on for a few more years…

      • Kim R says:

        I know! At the end of the performance that first night when Ruby did go on, she should have been dressed as “leather pants” Sandy. haha :D

    • mummy23 says:

      There definitely have been instances on the show where Kristina and Adam have given Max the free pass: the whole yearbook fiasco when he took the crying girls picture and they couldn’t understand why the school would not let him continue on the yearbook staff, his behavior with Amber about going to Alcatraz (never addressed because Kristina and Adam weren’t in that episode)…I’m glad the show had them apologize to Dylan and her family when they realized Max’s behavior was out of line no matter what his diagnosis is.

  7. Savannah says:

    How can ABC even think of taking this show off! Nothing like the Braverman family!!!

    • Sarah T. says:

      ABC isn’t but NBC isn’t. ;-) It’s not a strong ratings winner (though critics and fans love it) and really, though I’ll greatly miss it, NBC has kept it on longer than I really thought they would for that reason. I’m glad that they decided this was the final season ahead of time so writers could wrap up story lines and play everything out thought. I’m still crossing my fingers for a Braverman TV movie (maybe next Christmas?!).

    • Sarah T. says:

      Sorry NBC is. :-)

  8. StephP says:

    Did Joel actually sign the papers? They didn’t show him put the pen to paper. Holding out hope that he kissed her instead.

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  10. Beth Hall says:

    Am I the only that does not want Joel and Julia to get back together? She was right when she said he bailed. I predict Zeek will need a heart transplant, Crosby will be in a motorcycle wreck the leaves him in a coma, thus giving Zeek the heart he needs

    • Saabgirlatx says:

      I don’t want to see Joel and Julia back together! I was angry when Camille said marriage is all about forgiveness. There is so much more up it than that (not bailing perhaps…)!

    • beckycool2u says:

      I was thinking something kinda like that. But hopefully it is not Crosby who gives him the heart

    • Ann says:

      He bailed on her because she bailed first. She was busy having an emotional and mental affair with Ed. Who goes to visit a man (that you just met) the instant you find out he’s divorced unless you have feeling for him? If Julia and Ed had been longtime friends and she was going over to console a good, old friend…that would be different. Ed was some guy she just met. Of course Joel was hurt. He shouldn’t have left, but I don’t blame him. He needed time away from her to be able to trust her again. When he was ready to forgive her, she’d already moved on sleeping with her college boyfriend. Camille was right. It was all about timing. Joel has poor timing.

    • mummy23 says:

      Nope, you are not the only who does not want Joel and Julia together. It seemed so patently obvious the show was going to get them together again and for as much as I love Parenthood, this storyline was a mess. He did bail…but Julia is not saint either. She made a lot of unilateral decisions (the initial adoption that fell through, quitting her job) and the whole thing with Ed. Yes, Joel made mistakes but so did Julia. Having Joel grovel for Julia back and showing no awareness on Julia’s part in all of this is just unrealistic.
      As wonderful as Sam Jaeger is in the role, Joel’s characterization has not been much and has been mess through this storyline. He deserves better.
      And given the show had the Bravermans all say at various points throughout the season how wonderful Joel is, you knew they’d be getting back together. I would have liked to see the two of them come back this season still separated but going through marriage counseling to see if there is something to save…rather than what we got.
      I thought there were a lot of potential storylines for Joel over the years—being a stay at home dad, what is it like for him to go back to work? How did he feel about Julia suddenly quitting? What has he been doing with his time while separated? It feels like the show could give Mark Cyr, Hank, Kristina, Ryan, Jasmine character development to some degree but Joel never really got it and definitely not at the level Kristina and Hank have gotten.

      • I agree Julia has not been a saint, but I have to say I have her back rather than Joel’s. she was drawn to Ed because they shared a something common in losing their jobs and having to be the stay at home parent. Joel was enjoying the company of Pete when Julia was struggling and ignored her need to communicate. Victor totally terrorized Julia in the beginning and did they ever talk about it? So many reasons they should not be together but I’m sure they will reconcile because that is what the fans want, a happy, unrealistic ending. They could have gone so many places with this and Sam jaegers character but they chose to show Ruby, ugh.

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  14. Ann says:

    I just don’t like Julia. The only reason I’d root for Joel and Julia to get back together is because that’s what Joel wants and I want him to be happy. I have to wonder that if she didn’t have that fight with Chris, would she have been over at Joel’s place kissing him? Is she rebounding from Chris’s break-up? Why is it that Joel is man enough to own his part in the blame for their marital woes but yet Julia has never put any blame on herself when speaking to Joel? Sure, she’s admitted that she has partial blame in the mess when she talks to her siblings and mother-in-law, but she has never confessed it to her husband.Afterall, she’s the one who emotionally and mentally cheated on her husband all the while accusing him of having affections for his boss (I can’t remember that lady’s name right now) and denying that she ever felt anything for Ed…which isn’t true. AND she’s the one who unilaterally decided to adopt a child, almost going as far as illegally buying it from a preganant person at her office, which put a huge strain in their marriage and really is the point at which they began arguing a lot.

    • Kristina says:

      Considering they were fighting about her not having signed divorce papers yet, I’d say the fight and breakup were a wakeup call for her that Chris wasn’t who she really wanted. As for who’s more to blame, I think she was headed toward taking responsibility when she was begging him to talk to her and work on their marriage with her. He walked out instead. They definitely have some things to work out and are in serious need of counseling.

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  17. Adam says:

    Best episode of the season so far without a doubt!! I wish every week was like this one. I had questioned if Joel actually did sign the papers at the end or not.. but regardless I’m glad they seem to be moving forward- together.
    Can’t believe there are “only 4 episodes left”….

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  19. V says:

    I thought the original deal was that every cast member would only have to miss one episode this season? Because they have all missed multiple episodes so far. And yet there is a neverending supply of Hank and Ruby and Max and Dylan storylines. Ugh.

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  25. Murph says:

    I’m sorry can’t we go at least one episode with Ruby and Sandy in it??? I would have much rather seen more of Julia and Joel, they actually didn’t get much time and this is what we all want to see. I really hope in the last four shows Ruby and Sandy are not in it too much and focus on the actual Bravermans.

  26. Kim R says:

    Coming from last season and totally NOT a fan of Joel’s actions, I am so happy how they are writing this marriage in crisis storyline. Clearly, Julia has been trying to keep her walls of protection up after being so let down by Joel’s checking out but just as clear is the fact that she loves him still, and her family as a whole. This season, the writing for Joel’s character has won me over and I am cheering for them to survive. And when you think about it, nothing has happened here to cause the death of a marriage.
    On a completely different subject, Ruby should have totally be dressed as “bad” Sandy after the play ended that first night when she went on. haha

    • smartysenior says:

      Joel and Julia need to love their kids more than they distrust each other. Marriage is for the long haul and to protect the family. My parents had ups and downs that were a lot more dramatic than Julia’s almost boy friend but they stayed together until they died, raising 4 kids in an intact home. Joel bailed out over so little in my opinion, he needs to re-think what kind of man he is and Julia needs to get over it and take him back. Camille was absolutely right, forgiveness is key to living a life together.

  27. Ashley says:

    I have loved this show from day one, but this season seems to be dragging out…I don’t really like the choppiness of the story lines. There is a lack of overall family interaction that made this show so wonderful. And I feel that the whole Hank situation is taking up other family time. I just hope that it picks up after the break

  28. TeamJoel says:

    One potential inaccuracy here: they don’t actually show Joel signing the papers and in my opinion that scene reads as him not signing them and instead kissing Julia.

  29. Kristina says:

    FINALLY some movement on Julia and Joel. And YAY, someone finally told off Adam and Kristina about their complete lack of parenting, I’ve been waiting for that forever. While it’s always nice to see Jason Ritter, I really don’t understand why they brought him back. Between seeing him in the promo last week and the recent reconciliation between Hank and his ex (who are both taking up far, FAR too much screen time this season–really, no Joel and Julia at all last week, but we have a scene with Hank and what’s her name that in no way connects to any of the main characters? Why?) I thought they were going somewhere different there.

  30. KMB says:

    Clock says 3:16 am – anyone think it’s in reference to John 3:16?

  31. Ann says:

    I love this show – the characters and the plot lines. I am so disappointed it is ending, but I guess that’s television. I am glad they are having a finale for the show. I really hope they don’t kill off Zeeke. He is the best and that would make for a very unhappy finally to this wonderful show.

  32. kate'shomesick says:

    Actually…the kiss doesn’t mean at all that they are getting back together …it’s very common for spouses and couples to have physical relations right after the FINAL amicable break-up/ divorce etc….it’s usually a way to say goodbye and relieve stress/tension after a long emotional hard-time…so if it would be realistic if they kept it like that.

  33. Hayes says:

    There’s too much Max this season.

  34. Keely says:

    Enough with Hank & Ruby & Chambers Academy. I am annoyed by the lack of follow through in regards to Sydney being a bully. She’s been a snot at seceral different points in time throughout the years and has never been held accountable. I think they could’ve cut half the screen time of Hank & Ruby to dedicate to actual members of the Braverman clan.
    I really don’t want Zeek to be the one that dies, that’s to “easy” it should be someone shocking and totally unexpected.

  35. Brian says:

    Zeek will die when ambers kid is born circle of life…. Get your tissue ready

  36. Rebecca says:

    so ridiculous that they bothered, if they don’t have the $ to pay the regular cast members, how can they afford to pay those ‘extra’ people that we long term viewers don’t care about at all-especially not now that we are losing our show!
    I too am disappointed in the lack of interaction between the core family….

  37. I am still crying. So happy about the Joel/Julia stuff, and then to see Zeke. God. All the Tears.

  38. Jay says:

    Lauren Graham and Jason Ritter need a show together, too much chemistry.

  39. neaorlean says:

    Stop complaining about Hank and Ruby and Sandy already, that’s the price of having a final season. A sixth season of all the Bravermans in every episode together would never have seen the light of day, getting all of Hank’s family in an episode is probably cheaper than having any one Braverman there. You can complain that, even though Sarah is in the episode, she’s in the background and is having a supporting role to Hank, but not that we have all those not important characters fill the time they couldn’t afford to pay the original cast for. If not for them, we would’ve never seen that season.

    That said, it’s a pleasure for me when we get no Adam, Kristina and Max in an episode, Kristina has always been my least favorite character, she’s just dreadful, right there at the bottom with her 60 year old teenage daughter that looks so much like her. She’s a really bad parent and all of her storylines have been far fetched at best, and sometimes completely ridiculous. Also I could do without Joel and Julia getting back together, that’s a happy ending for the sake of the happy ending, and doesn’t make any sense, they weren’t good for each other and the only time I’ve enjoyed Julia in the last two seasons has been when she’s with Ed. I think that was the last time she enjoyed herself too. Joel is whiny and nothing between them is resolved, they just had enough time to forget what they were fighting about.

    And I understand that 13 episodes are not enough to put everything in that should be in the show, but a little more continuity wouldn’t hurt anyone. Sydney’s bullying somebody and we just mention in twice and forget about it? Ruby’s shoplifting AND she has a giant party with alcohol and 15 year olds and we forget about it? Max is harassing a girl and we, guess what, forget about it? I notice that in a few shows lately, that teenagers do stupid things and nothing happens, such a great lesson for any teenager that could be watching.

    Last season ended pretty nicely, almost no cliffhangers (as if anybody was wondering if Amber’s going to be pregnant). They should’ve left it at that, I think. There’s too many big storylines that can’t be resolved properly in the remaining four episodes. What’s the point of Amber having a baby if we won’t see her grow up, raising it? What’s the point in Zeek dying if we won’t see the aftermath? What’s the point of the Luncheonette failing if we won’t see them handling it? What’s the point of having Julia and Joel get back together, if we can’t know if it will work out or not? Do we get a “ten years later” five minutes ending or something, to tell us how all that worked out? I hate those. It should’ve ended last year with no Amber’s baby, no health issues and no Chambers crap.

  40. Jennifer says:

    I wish there was more Crosby is season. The Hank/Ruby/Sandy storyline bugs me…It seems superfluous. I don’t like Joel and Julia together. Sydney is a little jerk. That said, Parenthood is my favorite show. I am going to miss the crap out of it. Also, I love Drew and Amber…especially when they have scenes together.

  41. Linda says:

    Refresh my memory here, didn’t Julia actually cheat on Joel with that guy that helped Kristine and Adam get the school (he was Max’ teacher at the other school)? I know her and Joel were ‘seperated’ but technically still married.

  42. Miki Lane says:

    Love Parenthood….will be sad to see its departure. We need more shows like this!