“I’m so mad at Joel on Parenthood,” my husband said to me out of the blue. And I couldn’t agree more.
The Parenthood television program on NBC has been a hard-hitting family drama for several years. Last year they tackled breast cancer and its impact. This year, they’re approaching how a marriage breaks down.
Julia and Joe have been running through a rough patch. Julia, who used to be a high-powered attorney, is now a stay at home mom. Joel, who used to be in that role, is ramping up his construction business. These two characters are obviously moving in different directions, and it’s showing in how they are separating from each other. Joel is putting his energy into his work. Julia finds a friend with a fellow male parent who is also floundering as a stay-at-home dad.
As Joel continues to shut out Julia, Julia finds herself attracted to her male friend and the two end up sharing a kiss. She immediately realizes her mistake and tries to cut off communication with the parent. But when Joel finds out about the kiss, he tells her there’s something wrong with her. Julia suggests the two of them go talk to someone, but Joel accuses Julia of having something wrong with her and that she’s the one who needs to go talk to someone. (Serious red flag here, folks!) In the end, Joel announces that he is simply done and wants to move out.
And this is when my husband Scott told me he was seriously mad at Joel.
As a wife, I do wonder if my point of view is skewed toward the female characters on this show. I can often sympathize (and sometimes empathize) with how they must experience life. So it’s always interesting to hear the male point of view from my husband.
What left both of us steaming mad is the thought that one of us might actually behave as Joel is acting. Scott and I have been through some tough times, just as any marriage does, and it never occurred to either of us to just hightail it when the going got rough. As Scott said, he felt Joel was just copping out of the situation rather than dealing with the real issues at hand…. the two characters are growing apart through faults on both of their parts.
It takes two to tango, and rarely is someone clearly to blame. Often, both parties have a hand in how the marriage has broken apart whether they see it or not.
A good friend of mine once told me he knew his marriage was over when his wife announced she was unhappy so he needed to go to counseling to fix himself. She had had an affair and wanted him to fix whatever she blamed as the reasons she cheated. Talk about being disconnected from reality. But the simple fact is, despite her obviously unrealistic expectations and misguided puffed-up image of herself, my friend readily admitted that he played a part in the destruction of the marriage.
He said he saw the signs that she was self-centric and couldn’t see past how life specifically affected her. But he was young and madly in love. He just didn’t think about that stuff and what it meant trying to build a full life with someone. After they got married, as an old-fashion Southern boy, he expected her to be a traditional house wife. She cooked. She cleaned. She stayed home to take care of their daughter. He worked and traveled for work at that. I have to believe there was a growing resentment on her part the more he was absent and the less involved he was with their daughter. He was a loving father but not an active dad.
By his own admission, when the two of them got divorced he didn’t even know how to properly brush his daughter’s hair. He had to admit to himself that he wasn’t as involved as he had convinced himself he was. He also admitted that he had overlooked serious red flags before he got married because he was in love. That’s what love does, right? But picking a life partner should be taken with more seriousness. Be in love but make sure they’re the right person to build a life with.
So as the Parenthood character Joel continue down this destructive path, we’ll have to watch to see if he pulls his head out of his butt and puts in the work to help resurrect and save the marriage. If he puts in the good fight and the marriage can’t be saved, that’s one thing. But to just walk away without even trying… well, that’s just beyond sad and pathetic.