Why "Parenthood" Is a Must See for Dads

"Parenthood" is not one of those shows that draws a lot of attention. It doesn't have the slick production of "Mad Men." It's not goofy as "The Big Bang Theory." It's not buzzy like "Game of Thrones" or "Scandal." It's not even as funny as "Modern Family." And yet it quietly persisted, now in its 4th season.

The Bravermans

The Bravermans

As a dad, I find the characters to be relatable, and the storylines honest and compelling. Yes, it's not as show-stopping as an "affair with the president" storyline. But that's what makes the show good; you can easily put yourself in their situations. If your a dad, and you've never watched the show, there's a few reasons why you might want to start:

Crosby Braverman, played by Dax Shepard

Crosby Braverman, played by Dax Shepard

Crosby Braverman: Flawed and Genuine

Too often, fathers portrayed on television are criticized for being inept buffoons that do nothing to earn the respect of their families. While the mothers are shown doing everything to keep the family together, the fathers are usually shown lounging in some man-cave watching football, completely unaware of the issues the rest of his family faces.

What I appreciate about Crosby as a character is that he manages to sidestep the "buffoon" label. He might not get it right every time, but you see him try. And you know he wants to be a better man. Out of all the dads on the show, Crosby evolved the most, eventually marrying his baby mama, starting a business, and becoming an engaged father to his son.

Joel Graham, played by Sam Jaeger

Joel Graham, played by Sam Jaeger

Joel Graham: A SAHD Without the Hang Ups

For several seasons, Joel, a contractor, took on the role of the primary caregiver for their child, while his wife Julia, a lawyer, was the breadwinner. And the best part of it? There is hardly any drama surrounding the arrangement. No "Mr. Mom" jokes filling every episode.  No "loser" connotations constantly suggested. He's involved in his daughter's life without a hint of creepiness.

The situation is handled so matter-of-factly that it's just short of a non-issue. Occasionally Joel's at-home status is addressed, but usually it's within the context of larger issues, and not the central issue itself. His family goes through issues that are universal of any family, regardless of who's at home with the kids. Struggles with fertility, or the decision to adopt a child, or with handling the kids, or finding sitters, all show up more than the fact that he's the parent at home.

Adam Braverman, played by Peter Krause

Adam Braverman, played by Peter Krause

Adam Braverman: An Example of a Responsible Dad

Arguably, the last positive example of a father on television was maybe Bill Cosby. And who before that? Mike Brady?

For once, the father is not the butt of jokes. Adam Braverman takes a leadership role. He parents his kids; it's not just that he so happens to be a parent on a show. He has a relationship with his kids. And he's supportive of his wife, too.

It's not a washed over type of parenting you might find in a rerun from the 60's. He gets things wrong; he didn't always handle his wife's bout with cancer well. And sometimes, he's too hard on his less responsible younger brother. But he stays engaged, and offers what he can to his family.

 

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