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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Parenthood: “Aaron Brownstein Must Be Stopped”

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Kristina? Kristina Braverman? Close the door and take a seat, please, because we need to have a little talk.

When you decided to open a school despite having no qualifications or any real experience educating children, I shrugged. When you were able to open that school with very few headaches and have it run smoothly despite the fact that there isn’t a teacher to be seen in that whole place, I merely giggled. But this Dylan and Max situation, it’s too much. And you must be stopped.

I get it: It’s difficult to separate your role as Max’s mother from your role as an administrator at Chambers Academy, especially during Max’s struggle to navigate his first real crush on a girl. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to watch him get his heart broken and not be able to do anything about it; how difficult it must be to watch him act out because he doesn’t understand how to interpret Dylan’s emotional reactions to his advances. I get it!

But Dylan is your student, too; as is the boy she actually likes, Aaron Brownstein; as is every single student who witnessed both of Max’s outbursts while he was trying to “win” Dylan’s affections. Allowing Max to distribute flyers detailing why Aaron Brownstein should be expelled, then allowing Max to instigate a fight with him, and then not giving Max any discipline or consequences for those actions is not okay. Having Dylan tell you she doesn’t like Max in that way but not having her communicate that fact to Max (or somehow intervening yourself and communicating it for her, because you better understand how difficult it is to communicate things to Max) is not okay. Watching Max practically berate Dylan in front of the whole school while everyone laughs, and letting it get so out of hand that you have to chase Max down the street after Dylan is forced to scream that she doesn’t love him in the middle of the cafeteria, is not okay. Telling Max what he just did is brave (berating Dylan, showering her with public displays of love that Kristina knew were unwanted) is not okay. It’s not okay.

What would you do if the situation was reversed and Max was the person getting berated and humiliated in front of his peers? You would march right down to that school and cause hell. I know this because I’ve seen you do it. Feeling for Max is one thing; you’re his mother, you should feel for him. Not teaching him why his behavior is unacceptable is another thing, and as his mother and his school administrator, that is your job. To teach him things he doesn’t understand, so he can understand them better next time. Kristina Braverman, you are failing at your job right now. If Dylan’s absent parents suddenly show up and gave you hell (or Aaron Brownstein’s, for that matter), you should take every lump they give you, because you deserve it.

I like you, Kristina Braverman. I stick up for you even at your most impossible. But I need you to do better. Be better, lest your school fall down in shambles around you like it certainly deserves to right now.


Now that that little pep talk is over, on to the rest of the episode! The combination of stories and characters this week is not the strongest of the show’s lineup right now, causing this to be one of the least interesting episodes of this season to date. Hank and Ruby’s ongoing back-and-forth relationship—while well-acted—remains a case of wondering why the show is spending so much time developing this relationship when Sarah isn’t involved in the story (which she isn’t this week, conveniently out of town right when it would be interesting to have her around). Ray Romano’s performance remains the best thing about the story, but his quest to be a father to Ruby plays more like vaguely pleasant background music than anything kinetic and compelling, especially when the story is as rote as a teenager throwing a party while her parents are out of town.

The one saving grace of the episode is Crosby’s storyline, which continues to be a nice look at what it means for Crosby to define himself as a provider, take on that role, and find himself failing. Parenthood has long played fairly fast and loose with the tricky economics of living in an expensive place like the Bay Area, and it’s nice to have the show acknowledge—between this story and the runner with Drew wanting to get a stable job to support Amber—that money is a thing people worry about, and worry about a lot. When Jasmine takes a part-time job to help pay the bills, it seems as if this is going to be about Crosby getting his pride wounded because he can’t be “the man.” Instead, it turns into something much more subtle, as it is less about his pride but about him feeling selfish for following his dreams and then messing it up, so Jasmine isn’t able to follow her dreams of opening a dance studio. It’s another wonderful scene in what is turning out to be a great season for them, and it pretty much saves the episode from being a total bore.


Stray observations:

  • Braverman Of The Week: This is a tough one, but I’m going with Crosby for finally hashing out all of his complicated feelings regarding the Luncheonette, providing for his family, and feeling like a failure when he can’t.
  • What kind of filing clerk gets paid $30 an hour, and do they have an opening?
  • That bouncer not letting Crosby into the venue with weed is fine, but stealing it when Crosby was leaving? Not cool, man. Not. Cool. (Also: Crosby, don’t bring weed to the concert, you idiot, smoke it in the car when you get there like any high schooler would do.)
  • Jasmine’s mother is always kind of horrible in her stereotypical passive aggressive, mother-in-law way, but she always makes me laugh. Tina Lifford is great.