Family life

Bringing baby home: TV's Parenthood did it right

Tracy Chappell's favourite show returns, and reminds her of why, sometimes, writers nail reality better than “reality” shows.

1Newborn-October2013-iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

Follow along as Today’s Parent senior editor Tracy Chappell shares her refreshingly positive take on parenting her two young daughters. She’s been blogging her relatable experiences for our publication since 2005.

Last night, I was trying to make a dent in my overloaded PVR. This might be the real reason why fall seems like the busiest time for parents, since we spend so many evenings at home. You have all these exciting new shows to check out (and cross your fingers that they don’t suck), and all of your faves returning (which you also hope won’t jump the shark). And, of course, your kids have started their extracurriculars, and they have homework again, and you just want them to go to bed already, so you can flop on the couch and watch TV. As you’ve guessed, we just have regular cable and that means I don’t even know what all the Breaking Bad hysteria is about.

Anyway, we had time for two shows last night and when Sean asked for my first pick, I didn’t hesitate: Parenthood. He groaned a bit, even though I know he secretly likes it. I wrote about my adoration of this show last year, and you were all with me. We love it. The fact that it gets sappy and frustrating only makes us love it more because the Braverman family is like our own complicated, flawed, loveable families. My heart almost leapt at seeing them again.

Read more: For the love of Parenthood >

Last night, the show tackled something it hasn’t before — the very early days with a new baby — and I was quickly reminded how good these writers are. Crosby and Jasmine bring their new baby home, and it’s not all sunshine and snuggles. The baby is fussy, Jasmine is trying to keep it all together, Crosby complains about being tired (made worse by his mom sympathizing with his fatigue), they can’t agree on a first or last name (made worse by Crosby’s family chiming in) and Jasmine doesn’t want a house full of visitors (Crosby’s family, who come en masse and stay forever, despite Jasmine’s reminder to Crosby that he said they’d only stay an hour). Things are tense between them, and Jasmine is too postpartum to try to hide any of it. Later in the episode, Crosby has a heart-to-heart with his brother, admitting that he doesn’t feel anything toward the baby, that he’s concerned his actual health is at risk from the demands of new fatherhood, and begging to be told it gets better. Crosby holds the baby close at one point, looks into her little face, and says “I know I’m supposed to love you, but I kind of hate you right now,” in a loveable way that only Crosby could get away with.

Read more: Bonding with baby >

Crosby’s brother didn’t relate to his feelings, even though he has three kids of his own. I know lots of people who wouldn’t either. But I could. And I loved that Parenthood decided to explore the emotions around a baby’s arrival in a real way, without making it look easy and pretty, as we see so often on TV. As most of us know, the first weeks with a baby can be a bit of a shell-shock, like baby bootcamp. It’s chaotic and messy and not usually a lot of fun. Or maybe that was just how it was for me. And Crosby.

In the end, they tied it up with a bow, but that’s OK. I cried, as I do every single episode, and Sean teased me about it, and I felt like I’d come home. Sigh.

We also watched The Good Wife, which was great, and I hope it’s on track for a much better season than last year.

What TV shows have you been excited to check out this fall? And do you love Parenthood as much as we do (I’m including Sean in that, too, even though he would deny it)?