Stunted Adults

Welcome to Our So-Called Adulty Life


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Tim Riggins Is Ruining My Career

Next week, I have a VERY IMPORTANT work moment.  It involves putting on a suit, standing in front of a large crowd, and advocating for a position that will severely impact the rest of someone else’s life all while being interrogated by a panel of very smart people.

So, in light of having to face that special kind of professional hell in the near future, I need to focus and prepare.

One of the main pieces of my presentation involves discussing a legal case named United States v. Veal.

Whenever I say the word Veal, all I can think about is Anne Veal from Arrested Development.

Her?

Her?

And then I think about Amber Holt, who is the character that Mae Whitman plays on Parenthood.

No one knows how to make me cry like Amber.

No one knows how to make me cry like Amber.

And then I think about Amber’s ex-fiancée Ryan York.

My heart is breaking all over again.

My heart is breaking all over again.

And then I think about Luke Cafferty, who Matt Lauria played on Friday Night Lights.

Clear Eyes.  Full Hearts. Can't Lose!

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose!

And then I end up daydreaming about Tim Riggins.

All roads lead to you.

All roads in my brain lead to you.

SERIOUSLY.

I just lost 45 minutes of my day to Riggins.

At this rate, my entire presentation is going to be “Dear Important People, I know I am supposed to be talking about mortgage fraud, but, instead, let me tell you about what Texas Forever means to me.”

I’m screwed.

I am going to need to fake both blindness and a pregnancy if I have any hope of winning.

I am going to need to fake both blindness and a pregnancy to have any hope of winning.

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Good Friends Living Large In Texas Forever

Although its been years since it went off the air, I still cannot get over just how damn good Friday Night Lights is.

So damn good.

Good lord do I miss y'all.

Good lord do I miss y’all.

There are so many things that made that show amazing — the whisper yell, Coach Taylor’s pep talks, Landry’s surprising comedic flair, Tami Taylor’s hair — but one thing stands out.  The characters.  Friday Night Lights wasn’t a show about football.  It was a show about complicated people living in a seemingly simple place.

Indeed, these characters were so good, so damn good, that they did not disappear when network executives put an untimely end to their story.

Instead, much like the cast of the similarly phenomenal yet underrated Freaks and Geeks, the Friday Night Lights team has found a way to keep the story of their characters and the essence of Dillon, Texas alive despite having their show was taken away.

As Riggins predicted, they would all be “good friends living large in Texas forever.”

Slide1

This kid always suits up and takes the field no matter what physical or mental illness he’s quietly battling.

For example, when we left Dillon, Luke Cafferty was on his way to the military.  When we pick up with him again he’s on Parenthood, which as you all know I love, as Sergeant Ryan York.  Luke/Ryan has completed two tours in Afghanistan with the United States Army.  We see how Luke/Ryan copes with the difficult aftermath of returning from war and how he has grown up to be a stronger and more confident person.  But, he’s still the same guy — seemingly simple on the surface but deeply complicated — and his love affair with Amber and mentor relationship with Zeek Braverman bring back his very best moments with his high school love Becky and with Coach Taylor. He’s still just a man desperately searching for his home.

Slide2

Did you learn nothing from Riggins? Of course sleeping with Crosby is going to ruin everything!

When we last saw Lyla Garrity on Friday Night Lights, she had finally found a way to move on from Riggins and left for a bright future at Vanderbilt University.  She certainly put that educational opportunity to good use, because she came to Parenthood as Gaby Moss, a top-notch child behavioral therapist who worked with autistic children.  Lyla/Gabby is still sweet as can be, and you can tell she’s trying really hard to make the right choices.  But, she hasn’t been able to kick her bad habit of throwing all consequences to the wind after a few drinks and ending up in bed with the long-haired misunderstood bad boy.

Slide3

One of these days, you’ll finally be able to move on from your past.

Post-high school Vince Howard is still wrestling with his demons.  Vince also came back to us on Parenthood where he’s Alex, a teenager with no family, a criminal record, and a battle with alcoholism.  Vince/Alex is still a great person at heart and he is still really, truly fighting to be better and make everyone proud.  But, he just can’t shake his penchant for self-destruction that remains both infuriating and endearing.  Just as with Jess on Friday Night Lights, Vince/Alex finds himself smart enough to fall for Haddie Braverman, a woman who is intelligent, ambitious, and fantastic, but he’s not smart enough to stop from sabotaging the entire relationship with a moment of sheer stupidity.  All you can do with Vince/Alex is keep rooting that next time around he’ll finally get it right, because he’s a kid who deserves to get it right.

Slide4

Can we just elect Jess Merriweather as president already?

On the current season of Parenthood, we finally get to see what happened to Jess Merriweather.  Of course the girl who fought to be a football coach and not just a cheerleader watching from the sidelines turned out to be a bad ass fast talking campaign manager named Heather who got Obama elected and then swooped in to save Kristina Braverman’s mayoral campaign.  Jess/Heather’s domination of Vince Howard and Coach Taylor were just her warm-up for her future ability to use pure grit and ambition to get whatever she set her sights on.  No one puts Jess/Heather in the corner.

Beyond the Parenthood universe, two of my absolute Friday Night Lights favorites have also found a way to visit me every week.

New sunglasses, same exasperated look.

New sunglasses, same exasperated look.

Nashville has shown what Tami Taylor would do if she wasn’t a football coach’s wife who revolutionized education in small town Texas.  She would be Rayna James Country Music Superstar, obviously.  Have you seen that woman’s hair?  Have you seen her spunky attitude?  Have you seen that look she gets on her face when she’s been wronged and she is damn well going to do something about it?  Tami/Rayna was made to belt out songs about heartbreak and taking charge while strutting around in stilettos.  And, of course, she still makes time amongst all her taking names and kicking asses to help out any wayward girls who cross her path.  Juliette Barnes is totally her new Tyra Collette, right down to the troubled family, bad decisions about men, and surprising raw talent.

Slide6

Every thought that Jason Street and George Tucker has is deep and meaningful.

One of my current CW guilty pleasures, Hart of Dixie, allows me to catch up with Jason Street, who now goes by George Tucker, but is the same old good guy who just wants to do right and make his small town better.  Street/Tucker is still prone to getting his heart broken by the small town’s Queen B with the important daddy and the perfect ponytail who inevitably cheats on him with his best friend.  Lemon Breeland is 2013’s Lila Garrity.  He also has not learned his lesson about the perils of befriending his small town’s local drunken and brooding loner who can’t get out of his own way.  Wade Kinsella is what happens when you make Tim Riggins tween-friendly.

I absolutely love that I know how all of these characters have evolved.  I love knowing that, when I turn off their latest television appearance, I’m not saying goodbye to them.  I know that they will always be back, and I can’t wait to see them again.

I’ve spent hours pondering how the Friday Night Lights characters have had such staying power.  Is it because Friday Night Lights and Parenthood showrunner Jason Katims hired actors who are actually, in real life, the very residents that he imagined inhabiting Dillon, Texas?  Or is it because those characters were just so damn good and complex that the actors and Katims are unwilling to let them go?

Honestly, it doesn’t matter whether its one or the other, or some magical combo platter of both.  All that matters is that this all exists.

Texas Forever.


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Aerosmith Was Singing About Parenthood*

I love Parenthood even though it makes me cry every time I watch it.

EVERY TIME.

Just looking at this makes my eyes well up.

Just looking at this makes my eyes well up.

For example, two weeks ago, I only made it 6 minutes and 40 seconds into the episode before I was bawling so hard that I was gasping for breath between snotty hiccups.  NOT EVEN SEVEN MINUTES in and I was inconsolable as a result of the look that Vietnam Vet Zeek Braverman gave to Sergeant Ryan York, his granddaughter’s off-again, on-again boyfriend, upon his return from a tour in Afghanistan.  In that one look was everything — relief, hope, happiness, fear, and understanding — that comes with the tangled mess that is returning home from war.

One look and I was out.

Y'all are lucky there was no video clip for this, because you would all be in danger of drowning in your own tears.

Y’all are lucky there was no video clip for this, because you would be in danger of waterboarding yourself with your own tears.

And that was not an isolated incident.  When it comes to ripping the emotions out of my cold little heart, Parenthood is a damn pro.

Take last season as another example.  Parenthood focused largely on the story of Kristina Braverman, the mother of three children ranging in age from 18 years to 18 months, who abruptly found herself battling breast cancer.  As she lay recovering from a surgery that would reveal her chances of survival, the following scene unfolded (get your tissues at the ready):

Take a couple of deep breaths and just let the tears wash over you.  Trying to fight them after that is useless.

But, Parenthood isn’t just a somber sob-fest.  The magic in it is that it deftly mixes humor with completely raw emotion.  The show understands that life is the most comedic tragedy ever written.

A clip from last night’s episode illustrates perfectly Parenthood‘s mastery of the happy cry.  Sarah’s and Amber’s discussion about her unexpected wedding to Ryan was that perfect mix of comedic moments — “I was wearing a tragic skort” — and feeling so powerful that there are no words for it — that poignant look shared between the incomparable Lauren Graham and Mae Whitman when Sarah says that she wants to give Amber the wedding of her dreams.

Happy or sad.  Good or bad.  Parenthood brings on the waterworks.  After last year’s season finale — where Jasmine married Crosby while a choir sang Make You Feel My Love (Download that song immediately.  You won’t regret it.  TRUST.) — I actually contemplated whether it was possible to die from tear-induced dehydration.  That’s how aggressive my crying was.

Country Boy is completely perplexed by my addiction to Parenthood.  He recognizes that it’s a well-written show with a cast composed of some of my all-time favorite television actors.  Where else can you find Coach Hayden Fox, Lorelei Gilmore, Nate Fisher, Ann Veal, Luke Cafferty, and Jess Merriweather all in the same hour?  It is simply glorious to have them all back in my life again.

However, despite acknowledging the amazing cast chock full of my best television friends, Country Boy doesn’t get why I would willingly watch something that makes me so emotionally overwhelmed.  He wonders why I would watch a show that so completely spends me that I often fall asleep on the couch in a crumpled heap the minute it’s over.

But, here’s the thing.

All that crying is actually amazing.  It’s cathartic.  It’s cleansing.  And, it heals me.

Watching Parenthood in the safety of my own home allows me to finally let my own guard down.  It lets me feel something about a fictional family that I won’t let myself feel about my own family.

I cry about Kristina’s illness because I can’t cry about my own family’s medical battles.

I cry about Sarah’s struggle to let go of her selfish addict ex-husband because I can’t cry about the bad relationships that are plaguing some of the people who I love the most.

I cry about Crosby’s and Jasmine’s wedding because I can’t cry about the tidal wave of emotions that are hitting me as both of my younger brothers get married this year.

I cry about Zeek and Camille’s struggles to start Act III of their lives together, because I can’t cry about my parents having two very different ideas of how to spend their golden years and that they don’t seem capable of reaching an agreement.

I cry about Ryan’s struggles to return home from Afghanistan, because I can’t cry about the overwhelming worry I have for my veteran family and friends even once they are home safely.

I cry about the love and loss shared between the Bravermans, because I can’t cry about my fear that I will be utterly lost without my family and that I can’t prevent them from one day being taken away.

I cry about all of the meaning in the moments of silence shared by the Bravermans, because most of our family interactions occur in those moments between the words.  Those moments when we are trying to find the words and take in everything that is happening around us.  When we are grasping to accept the change that occurs as we all grow even though everyone wants every moment to last just a little bit longer.  I feel those moments all of the time, but I just push them down because I don’t want to be the one who falls apart.

In sum, I love Parenthood because it lets me feel ALL of my feelings without having to explain them.  Or justify them.  Or feel like I should be stronger than I am.  Or worry that everyone in my family will think I am a crazy, emotional wreck.  When Parenthood is on, I can just point at the screen, shrug, and bawl away, because I’m crying about someone else.

So, thank you Parenthood, because there really is nothing better than a good cry, especially one that you didn’t know you needed.

* Oh Bravermans, I’ve been cryin’ since I met you.