Wednesday, April 13, 2011

'Parenthood': Let's (Not) Talk About Sex...

I have a real problem with the way Parenthood portrayed the Haddie losing her virginity story line. Was it just me? Well, it wasn't so much how they handled her side of it but rather her parents. They (well, mostly Adam) freaked out over prom because traditionally, stereotypically, prom night was when kids would get hotel rooms and have sex with their current boyfriends/girlfriends. But in 2011 do we really expect that prom night is the de-virginizing of today's youth?

I'm no longer considered part of the youth generation, despite what Paul Reiser may think, and though I had a couple of friends growing up who expressed their interest in losing their virginities on prom night because it was just what we grew up to believe happened, when we got a little older, the majority of those who had made that staunch declaration realized they didn't actually want to wait that long. I can only imagine what kids today are thinking.

If Haddie wanted to have sex, she could have had sex dozens of times before prom. Adam was really short-sighted to think prom was the problem. And then after they got over that speed bump seemingly unscathed, with Kristina being the voice of reason saying "I know [what prom is for]; I went to prom," she backtracked majorly when her in-the-moment daughter accidentally purse or butt-dialed her parents.

"She sounds like she's hurt," Kristina apparently went for denial this time around. "Maybe she gave her phone to one of her friends for some reason..."

It was funny for us at home, and perhaps a bit mortifying, too, depending on what we experienced during our own teenage years. But for the show, and in its penultimate episode of the season (which more likely than not will end up being the penultimate episode of the series), it just felt kind of sloppy. And very unbelievable.

And when Kristina finally got over her initial shock and decided to confront her daughter about it, she took her daughter's lying word when she said that no, she and her boyfriend were not currently doing anything. It was a step in the right direction, but the truly mature, maternal thing to do would have been to continue the confrontation to point out the phone call and that clearly something more is going on. I'm not saying every mother and daughter has to be Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, but it is Kristina's responsibility in this situation to make sure her kid is being smart and being safe.

My mother had the sex talk with me when I was six years old. She read from a book that by the time I had reached puberty I could barely remember, let alone think was still relevant (a lot can change in a few short years!). I was a secretive kid as it was, and had I been having sex in high school I certainly would have lied about it, too, but that kind of points out that I (nor Haddie) was truly ready to do such a thing. If you're too immature to talk about it, you probably shouldn't be doing it.

But that is something that only hindsight can tell you. Kristina, having gone through her own adolescence and being able to look back on it a bit more objectively, should have that hindsight. She should be able to start the uncomfortable conversations and push through the awkward moments. But she seems ill-equipped; the line between the so-called adult Bravermans and their children is very, very thin. Everyone is in a state of arrested development.

Every family is different. Every child's situation is different. Jason Katims knows that. Clearly Parenthood is not another Friday Night Lights, where childhood homes have revolving doors and teenagers move in with their significant others' families without a second thought. Maybe it's unfair to compare the two shows; Haddie clearly grew up much more sheltered, and many of these differences are probably regional anyway; they certainly feel worlds apart.

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