Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie or TV show coming out that week. This week: Inspired by HBO’s High Maintenance, our favorite episodes about pot.
Parenthood, “One More Weekend With You” (season four, episode eight; originally aired 11/20/2012)
Usually, when marijuana comes into play on television, one of two things happens: wacky hijinks ensue or someone learns a lesson. Leave it to Parenthood to go in a different direction entirely by turning a shot of someone smoking a joint into a genuinely sentimental and gutting moment. Marijuana isn’t exactly the focus of season four’s “One More Weekend With You,” but it becomes crucial to the episode’s emotional release and is the centerpiece for one of the most memorable shots of the entire series.
Over its five season run, Parenthood possessed the striking ability to make viewers cry week after week—tears of sadness, joy, frustration, the works. Parenthood was an emotional rollercoaster colliding with an emotional hurricane. Even within a single episode, the writers could hit several different huge emotional beats, throwing tonally disparate plots into the mix, and still come out with a cogent, complete piece by the end. Parenthood captured raw human stories without slipping into macabre territory, and Kristina’s struggle with cancer in season four epitomized those storytelling strengths.
“One More Weekend With You” marks the moment when Kristina’s cancer went from diagnosis to battle, and it’s devastating to watch as the pain and nausea from her chemo treatments renders her unable to do even the simplest of tasks. Parenthood doesn’t sugarcoat a single second of her suffering, and Monica Potter lets loose with a wildly uninhibited, gutting performance. When Adam (Peter Krause) realizes just how dire the situation has gotten, he runs off to Crosby’s (Dax Shepard) to interrupt one of the episode’s other—much lower-stakes—conflicts in search for a bag of weed. Parenthood subplots often intersect in the weirdest of ways, but it works. The writers seem less concerned with making a cohesive episode of television than with crafting a fairly realistic, chaotic portrait of family and relationship drama. Again, marijuana is far from the focus of “One More Weekend Without You,” but in that moment, it becomes paramount—not for plot reasons, but because of what it means to these characters.
Near the end of the episode, a stunning overhead, close-up shot of Kristina shows her taking a hit of a joint, drenched in sweat, drained, peaked, but finally relaxed, no longer in pain. That shot alone should have been Potter’s entire Emmy reel (after seeming like a front-runner all season, she wasn’t even nominated). And in another signature move of Parenthood, the moment doesn’t come off as some sort of PSA about the benefits of medical marijuana. Though frequently sentimental, Parenthood rarely felt preachy. It was always more concerned with people than with ideas.
Availability: “One More Weekend With You” is available to stream on Netflix and for digital purchase.