Dear Mr. Greenblatt,
This week we're trying to see the bigger picture for you. If you renew Parenthood (and you will, right?), you should probably go all in with it. Spend more money and optimize it to cross-promote your other successful franchises. And maybe you can even get Ellen DeGeneres onboard! Thank us later.
Sarah as the Career Mooch
Jacoby: Sarah has no job and lives at home with her parents. She’s basically a Kardashian sister without the hair weave and famous husband. Heading into Season 5, she sits poised for a professional rebound, but as far as we know, she only excels at three things: pouring drinks, taking pictures, and being in love triangles. Unless Rihanna is looking for someone to manage her Instagram account, Sarah doesn’t have a natural fit in the workforce.
To cope with this realization, Sarah downs a couple of bottles of Sonoma red, throws on some Jefferson Airplane, and has herself a little dance party on the sofa bed. Zeek is on sprinkler duty in the yard when he hears the commotion and checks on his 40-something teenage daughter. When he asks her why she's dancing on the couch and drinking wine straight from the bottle, she sings into the Merlot mock microphone, “Because I’m a total faaaaaailuuuuuure.” Confused but not concerned, Zeek responds, “Well, you sure make failure look fun,” then rolls his eyes and walks out the door. Sarah, inspired, turns off the tunes, turns on the laptop, and starts tickling the keys.
Fast-forward four episodes and she's just published her first e-book, titled The Fun of Failure. Part memoir, part self-help, The Fun of Failure is an anthem for the unambitious, preaching a life free from the constraints of employment, wealth, and any form of responsibility. The book garners interest among the Bay Area slacker set and leads to an interview on NorCal’s NPR affiliate, KQED. Then it happens.
While driving back from long weekend in Big Sur, Ellen DeGeneres catches the interview and loves Sarah’s “Fuck it, quit your job, and live with your parents” approach. In two weeks’ time, Sarah becomes a bona fide sensation, two-stepping her way to Ellen’s on-camera sofa. Legions of adults looking for comfort in their underachievement adopt the “Fun of Failure” mantra. Sarah is a cult hero for the longing losers. Photos of her guesthouse and sofa bed leak online as testament to her commitment to the mooching lifestyle. Fan sites pop up, money comes in, and Sarah tastes the triumph of accomplishment.
Looking to join her daughter in the “no longer living at home” demographic, Sarah signs a lease to move into a craftsman house in Oakland’s up-and-coming Rockridge neighborhood. She couldn’t be happier. A picture of her loading boxes into a U-Haul outside of Braverman headquarters leaks online. Her fans couldn’t be unhappier. She's inundated online with insults, accusations, insulting accusations, and unflattering Photoshops. Distraught, surrounded by unpacked boxes in her new home, she cranks up the music, cracks open some wine, and cries her eyes out while signing to herself, “Because I’m a total faaaaaailuuuuuure.” Amber has been watching from the doorway with a housewarming gift. She moves in and embraces her mother as she weeps and whispers in her ear, “You can never be a failure when you have family.” The ’70s soft jam plays, the tears turn to laughs, the audience once again turns to emotional putty in the soft hands of the Braverman clan.
Braverman Field Trips
Litman: I know Parenthood is already an expensive endeavor because of its ensemble cast, and NBC is probably not looking to increase the show's budget. But someone once said you have to spend money to make money, so, Katims and crew, I think you need to take the Bravermans out of their natural habitat. I want to see the clan beyond the confines of their supposed homes and outside of the Luncheonette. This could go in a few directions:
- Option 1: Utilize the Bay Area. As it turns out, the San Francisco Bay Area's not only home to a few winning sports franchises, but also to a lot of natural beauty. It's also home to many type-A personalities who claim to enjoy vigorous exercise on the weekends. Doesn't this sound like one of the Braverman siblings? Yes, it sounds like Julia. I'm actually shocked that we haven't seen her exercising yet. Julia's not the Lululemon and yoga type; she was a competitive swimmer in her youth. And while she still swims laps when it's cold or rainy, Julia's also a mountain biker, so let's see her force her kids into exhausting activities they're not interested in.
- Option 2: Let's get some NBC crossover going. Who didn't love when Doug Ross (George Clooney) and John Carter (Noah Wyle) from ER showed up on Friends? Sure, at that time NBC was a network on the rise with an incredible Thursday night franchise. I could see where perhaps NBC doesn't have the high-quality shows to foster the same kind of thrilling crossover, but it does have The Voice. Have you noticed that none of The Voice contestants go on to anything after the show? (One exception: Season 3 winner Cassadee Pope seems to have landed a sweet gig.) Well, I think they need to do an Idol-style concert tour, and make a stop at Oakland's Oracle Arena. Hank is hired to photograph the affair, and Sarah, her kids, Julia, her kids, and Camille all attend. Milk your two franchises for all they're worth!
- Option no. 3: Bring on the foodies. Do Bravermans not enjoy a good meal? The food culture of the Bay Area rivals the obsession with exercising in the great outdoors, yet our favorite family rarely goes out to eat. Once Drew's short-lived DJ career comes to an end, I think he should work as a dishwasher at a fancy Berkeley restaurant. The benefit of this is manifold: (1) This is a legitimate career path with many stages, which could fuel Drew's story line in general; (2) restaurants are filled with big personalities (or so Top Chef suggests), and there could be a revolving door of Drew's coworker characters; (3) Bravo is a sister channel of NBC, so who knows which Top Chef stars could cycle through the Braverman reality?
To keep this show going, the Braverman universe needs to expand, and recycling Friday Night Lights alumni isn't the only way to do it.