If you spend your Thursday evenings bonding with the Bravermans, you're already familiar with Parenthood's no-holds-barred approach to tackling the toughest family scenarios in existence. Infidelity, dating for single parents, autism, adoption. The list goes on (and on, and on . . . ). While its oftentimes so closely aligned to reality that it can be painful to watch, there's no denying that Parenthood keeps it real — plain and simple. Here, six of the many ways that the show is completely and totally in sync with real life:
1. No One Said Adoption Was Easy
After a lengthy, and eventually failed attempt to conceive baby number two, Joel and Julia embark upon a long and complicated journey to bring Victor, their adopted son, into their family. While other shows may have wrapped up Victor's arrival with a warm and fuzzy happily ever after, Parenthood took the brave approach of admitting that the process isn't an easy one. Julia struggled to bond with her new son, Victor had a tough time in school — this is what real life looks like, and we applaud the show for embracing it.
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2. Marriage Is a (Never-Ending) Work in Progress
Parenthood's view of the 40+ year marriage of Zeek and Camille, the patriarch and matriarch of the Braverman clan, isn't always idyllic, but it's real. Even after decades of raising a family together, the fictional couple still struggles with very authentic issues like fidelity, gender roles, and life after kids are grown up and gone. In the current season, Camille is gearing up to embark upon a month-long solo trip to Italy with her art class. We'll learn this week why Zeek was intentionally kept out of the plans.
3. New Babies Are an Amazing Gift . . . and a Test on Parents' Patience
This season, Crosby and Jasmine welcome baby Aida and become a family of four. Any new parent will appreciate the level of candor with which the show's writers introduce the newborn to the script. She's healthy, happy, and positively exhausting. Jasmine struggles with breastfeeding, Crosby doesn't know how to help, big brother Jabbar is jealous. Is there anyone reading this who can't relate!?
4. Even a Parents' Identity Can Be Tied to Their Career
When Julia and Joel switch roles and Julia becomes a stay-at-home mom for the first time, she learns that life isn't all running carpool and swapping recipes with pals in the pickup line. The former lawyer discovers how much of her identity was tied to her legal career, and she has a tough time sacrificing her personal achievements to be at home with her kids. Julia envies her husband's newfound professional success and finds herself feeling very much alone in her own home.
5. Special-Needs Kids Are Hard Work — For Everyone
Kristina and Max's autistic son, Max, was one of the first things about Parenthood that drew attention from viewers and the media alike. We appreciate the many facets of life with a special-needs child that the show addresses — from a sibling who feels slighted by the amount of time and attention that he takes up to an autistic child's sense of self-awareness. Max's character has many dimensions, and his interactions with friends and family are written into the storyline in a way that's as complex as they would be in real life.
6. Dating as a Single Mom Isn't Easy
When single mom Sarah falls for her teenage daughter Amber's English teacher, things get really complicated — really quickly. When it comes to dating as a mom or dad, there's more to the equation than the two adults in the relationship. Whether the children involved are infants, teens, or anywhere in between, it's not easy to juggle a family and a separate love life.