|Joy Bryant and Dax Shephard in "Parenthood"|
In an Obama age, shows like "Parenthood" flatter us into believing race no longer matters -- and avoid hard truth
NBC’s “Parenthood” is a trick show that people tuckered out by life are eager to believe in. I am one of these tired people. Its bustling mornings, carefully disheveled interiors, and impromptu kitchen dance-parties create the illusion of safe chaos. “Parenthood” knows that for the modern television viewer, controlled disorder is better than none, for safe chaos tricks you into believing that what you’re watching isn’t totally sanitized. Strategically placed ad-libbing, background chatter and overlapping dialogue combine to slyly convince you of its authenticity — that not only does “Parenthood” belong to an age of realism and daring and diversity, but it’s helping create it.
It reminds me very much of my eighth-grade teacher who so desperately hoped to be the mythic sage who made a difference, but failed to realize his well-meaning musings about why “black families can’t stay together these days” did little to raise our awareness of anything other than his own desire to seem good. And this is what “Parenthood” does in its broad-stroke coverage of everything that could happen in the life of a modern American family. Since we’re all terrified of being different, there is some point in airing things we might still regard with shame: infidelity, moving back with your parents, not going to college, raising an autistic child, and, finally, interracial dating. As the end product of an interracial date, I find this last theme most interesting. On the show, it’s explored in two story lines. READ MORE