Parenthood Pickup Watch: Zombie Kittens and Remodeled Kitchens

Dear Mr. Greenblatt,

We stumbled upon this video of Dax Shepard on Sesame Street. This is what your cast is doing in the offseason. Just wanted you to be aware.

Now, here are your weekly Season 5 Parenthood story lines. We know you’ve been waiting.

Forever young,
Juliet Litman and David Jacoby

Drew Discovers His Inner deadmau5

Jacoby: Drew Holt is easily in the top three of Parenthood’s least-interesting characters. Thus far, Jason Katims and company have used Drew only as a vehicle to introduce his ex-girlfriend Amy’s abortion and the psychological collateral damage of his mother’s mismanaged love life. All that is about to change.

For every high school debate team kid who heads to college and reinvents himself as a beer pong bro, there are four who head to college and never break out of their social shells. It would be simple to add a little spice to Drew’s story by writing him into the former, but there are four seasons of evidence clearly suggesting that he is very much going to do the latter. So what do you do when you are writing a TV show and have to add some flair to the life of a responsible, mumbly introvert? You take him to the place where old identities are shed and new personalities are formed. You take him to the place where everyone is his aspirational self. You take him to the Internet, and it all starts in a coffee shop.

Drew has spent the majority of his freshman year in his dorm room. [Editor's note: Juliet thinks Drew should pull a 90210 and live at home. Juliet and Jacoby will fight it out at a later date.] He spends most of his time studying, and the rest of the time he eats, Googles his dad’s name, and farts around with a program called DUBTurbo. DUBTurbo sells itself as PEDs for dubstep: It promises to turn even the least-musically-inclined noob into an EDM star overnight with just $39.95 and a few clicks of the ol’ mouse. Here’s the thing: DUBTurbo never delivers on that promise. Wub-wub beat-crafting actually takes hours of practice, patience, and trial and error. Drew has those hours. After months at the helm of DUBTurbo, Drew has created quite an extensive catalogue of squeaky, bleepy, wub-wub beats.

One day while his roommate has female company, Drew is banished to beat-make in one of Berkeley’s beatnik organic vegan coffee joints, when someone removes his oversize Beats by Dre headphones from his ears and asks, “Whatcha working on, handsome?”

Drew doesn’t recognize the inquisitive stranger as Bay Area/Internet sensation Kreayshawn. He just mumbles “nothing” and recoils. Before long she has wrestled the headphones away from Drew, anointed him the future of music, and recorded three tracks with him in between Swisher Sweets in her basement. Drew thinks little of it.

A month later he receives a text from his new collaborator announcing that she has released the songs on her Tumblr page and credited the production to DJ Zombie Kitten. When he asks Kreashawn who DJ Zombie Kitten is, she replies, “ROTFL! Thatz U YO! It’s a dope NAME, word.” A month after that, DJ Zombie Kitten has a fan site and a following and is the most mysterious man in music. Even Crosby (don’t forget: He owns a recording studio) is familiar with DJ Zombie Kitten. It isn’t long before Drew is in a San Francisco drag queen outfitter asking if it could take his gigantic costume kitten head and make it look like a zombie. A month after that he’s bleep-blooping, button-smashing, and fist-pumping in front of molly-sweatin’ masses every other weekend in Las Vegas super clubs. DJ Zombie Kitten is a thing. By day Drew is still a reserved, studious bore of a freshman, by night he’s a life-saving, demi-god DJ who people pay $200 to watch push buttons.

At the zenith of the Zombie Kitten craze, Drew finds out that his father is going to be playing a line-dancing bar in Sacramento. He makes the trip. After bullshitting his way backstage, he finally gets to his father’s greenroom, only to find him drunk as ever. There in that smokey room it becomes clear what Drew has been doing the whole time as DJ Zombie Kitten: He was trying to elicit recognition — and, more importantly, pride — from his father. As he plays his and Kreashawn’s smash hit “Bubbling Bongs and NWA Songs,” he can see rage building behind his father’s brow. Immediately, Drew’s dad rejects his music as “everything that is wrong with this generation” and throws a snifter of Evan Williams against the wall in Drew’s direction. On the way home Drew pulls to the side of the highway, removes the gigantic zombie kitten head out of his trunk, and lights it on fire. The flame flickers and Simon & Garfunkel play as tears stream down his face. Drew never wanted to be a world-famous DJ dressed as a zombie kitten, he just wanted to be a child with a loving father. And while none of us can relate to being international bleep-bloop sensations, all of us can relate to wanting to be loved. As the plush zombie kitten’s eyeballs melt in the flames, the eyeballs of the real people watching NBC melt at the sight of it.

Adam and Max Go on a Home Makeover Show

Litman: Something missing from Parenthood is the sense that the characters watch TV. I always enjoyed when Summer Roberts on The O.C. talked about her favorite TV show The Valley, which was, in turn, a parody of The O.C.. It gave the sense that these characters watched TV, just like us! If any fictitious family were to be devoid of TV-watching, it would be the Bravermans. That’s the kind of thing people in Berkeley might do, and in the case of Max, his Asperger’s might require a regimented, restricted TV diet. But I think Max is more likely to be deeply invested in niche television. He lives for a good home redesign.

In Season 5, Max is going to fight for more TV time, and he will win. His parents, Kristina and Adam, don’t have much to worry about, anyway. Max is not fighting for more Robin Byrd time. He just wants to watch more home HGTV. He’s hooked on Property Brothers, and he hopes that he and Jabbar grow up to be just like the Kitchen Cousins. But what Adam and Kristina don’t know is that Max has already applied to be on one of these shows. He submitted a home video audition to appear on a reboot of While You Were Out. (Side note: TLC, please bring back this phenomenal show!)

After Kristina finishes chemotherapy, Max wants to do something nice for his mother. Redesigning the backyard seems like a great gift, so he makes a video explaining how much it would mean to their family. If you’ve watched any HGTV, you already know that overcoming personal tragedy is the kind of fodder that many of these shows thrive on. The Bravermans are perfect for this. One afternoon, Adam is home with Max when he gets the phone call that they’ve been selected to be on the show. Saying no to a determined Max is nearly impossible, and Adam is always looking for ways to bond with his son anyway. He thinks it over in a protracted shot in which the camera pulls away from him, putting the messy house on full display. After thinking it over for not enough time, Adam consents. He and Max are going to give the Braverman backyard a total makeover. Here comes the tasteful water feature!

Here’s how While You Were Out works: The subject goes away for 48 hours. On this episode, former cancer patient Kristina Braverman is on a girls’ weekend in Sonoma County with her sisters-in-law for some much-needed wine and relaxation at a hot springs resort. Perfectly bougie, right? Last season Kristina, Jasmine, Julia, and Sarah all went to a bar together for an all-time great scene, so this conceit has a lot of promise. (Plus, in a nod to NBC’s history, the four of them will sit in a steam room as they air their grievances, just like on Sisters.) Kristina is trailed by a camera, thinking she’s just a random person who will appear for less than 10 seconds on a promotional video for the hotel. But in fact, she’s giving information that will help Adam and Max “win” more money to use on the redesign.

Meanwhile, the construction crew goes to the house and Adam and Max participate in the makeover. The format of WYWO is highly conducive to the ensemble cast of Parenthood. Over the course of 48 hours, Zeke pops in to help, but he is more of a nuisance than anything else. Cute cousin Amber comes by to drop off some treats she has made for the crew. Camille comes over to do nothing, as is her wont. Adam spends more time trying to manage his family than actually working on the project with Max, so they are behind on the work and the real reason he agreed (bonding) is not even working out. Luckily, WYWO accounts for going off track, and the family drama will be great TV. Secondly, Joel Graham is the Bravermans’ secret weapon. As a real-life foreman, he comes in with his tools to finish the job. By the end of Day 2, the Bravermans have built a brand-new deck, re-landscaped, and installed a high-end barbecue. The episode itself will feature the testimonials from each Braverman, giving it a reality-show feeling. Think ER‘s live episode or the mockumentary style of The Office.

In the final act, Kristina arrives home for the big reveal. The cameras are waiting for her in the backyard to capture her look when she sees what her husband and son (and Joel) have done for her. Of course she starts crying and laughing (as are we, of course) before delivering a speech about how much it means to her. Let’s keep crying while watching Parenthood, but maybe throw in some tears of laughter as well.

Filed Under: Dear Mr. Greenblatt, NBC, Parenthood

juliet

Juliet Litman works on the Grantland Quarterly.

Archive @ julietlitman

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