Why I Stopped Watching the TV Show ‘Parenthood’

I don’t often have the time or opportunity to watch tv shows during the regular season. Even if I schedule the DVR to record each weekly episode, getting the chance to sit down and catch up is a rare treat.

So I usually end up “discovering” new-to-me shows on Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon.

Last month I decided to start Season 1 of Parenthood (all three finished seasons are available for free with Prime; episodes of the new season are available a day later on Hulu Plus). At first, I found the show very charming. I really love some of the actors (Monica Potter and Peter Krause are standouts), the soundtrack is cool, the writing is pretty good. I mentioned on Facebook that I was starting the show, and friends came out in droves to gush about their love for Parenthood. It looked like I was in good company!


But after just a few episodes of Season 1, something started getting under my skin: the characters talk over each other all.the.time. It’s like a study in How Not To Communicate. At first, I let it slide. Then it just got to be too much, and almost a cliche. We get it, they’re a lively, passionate bunch.  But it also comes off to me as really disrespectful.

Yes, I know they’re a big family. I am one of 4, my husband is one of 8. I myself have 5 kids. I get it: big families are loud. But that doesn’t mean you can’t afford each other a little respect and maybe listen to each other talking. And it’s not just with family that the characters in Parenthood behave like this – it seems with all of their interactions, the communication seems to be more about formulating your answer while the other is talking, then either interrupting, or coming back with a quick, witty response. In that way, I feel like the writing and acting are hogging all of the attention away from the actual story. It’s like “our writers are awesome!” and “our actors are so impassioned!” and then I’m left sifting for the actual heart of what is going on.

I also have issues with the often shrug-shouldered, impotent approach to parenting teens. In some respects, I feel the show takes the easy, well-traveled road of “kids will be kids” and “teenagers are a nightmare” and “whaddya gonna do?” when it comes to parenting. I’ve worked hard to not buy into those philosophies in raising my own kids, and get impatient watching it depicted in any show (no matter how popular it is).

I finished Season 1 of Parenthood and got a few episodes into Season 2 before I just couldn’t watch it anymore. Many people declare this show to be the closest thing to depicting how a “real” American family lives. Ok, I can see that. People also confess openly that they cry at every episode; I can see that, too. And I actually love the entire story line with Max and understand how special needs families and activists have applauded this show. I think Parenthood definitely has value, but I just can’t handle watching it anymore.

**UPDATE (added 1/20/13): Watching all the talk about Kristina’s cancer story this season, I decided to give Parenthood another try. I’m still not impressed. They continue to talk over each other, and it’s just become more gimmick-y than ever. I’m also frustrated by the lack of respect couples show to each other in this show. Excluding Adam and Kristina, everyone else is a mess. Jasmine belittles and emasculates Crosby at every turn. Sarah acts like an idiot and completely blows things with Mark (and over HANK, no less?!?). Even Joel – who I typically like – completely invalidates the seriousness of what Julia is going through with Victor’s treatment and rejection of her. I understand that writers want to make characters vulnerable, but they are becoming downright unlikable to me.**

And, when you get right down to it, television is such a luxury – we each have a million choices in how we spend our time, and if we decide to spend some of that watching a fictional show, I think it should be something we feel really good about (which is Modern Family for me!).

So…based on my Facebook feed – and the internet at large – I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who doesn’t love Parenthood, but tell me:

Have you ever not liked a tv show that everyone else simply adored?



  • Terra Heck

    I’ve never watched Parenthood before but I don’t appreciate blanket statements like you mentioned in regards to teenagers either. I have four teenagers and they are pains at times, but so are adults.

  • First, I should remind you that tv time is not such a treat for me. Having only one child at home that is 13 1/2, I really can watch almost anytime I want.
    Hm, I have a mixed opinion concerning Parenthood. Most of the time I absolutely love the show, the talking over each other does gets on my nerves. But, not enough to out weigh what I love about it. My daughters are everything to me, and I guess I never really think of what I watch as entertainment as a reflection of my own person feelings. To answer your question, YES, I often do not like the most popular shows. So, I get it and would never spend my time watching something I don’t enjoy.

    • Thanks for the comment, Jenn! And can I just say…I sort of can’t wait until I can watch what I want when I want. Until then, it’s a lot of Disney Jr (my 5yo’s drug…I mean, channel…of choice) and Doctor Who (my 11yo is obsessed) at my house. 🙂

  • I do like this show. It’s a good one to me. However, i can take one episode a week. This is not one I could ever marathon. Maybe that’s how you went to so annoyed. I am sure, as much as I like the show, I’d get annoyed with it. There’s quite a bit I don’t like. I can’t stand Crosby/Dax Shepherd. But that’s kind of life, right? You don’t always get what you want and like. I enjoy seeing how they work it out.

    • I think you are exactly right here, and I hadn’t even thought of it this way. I *do* think that watching so many episodes back-to-back killed this show for me. Small doses, that’s what I should have been taking! 🙂

  • Oh and yes, often I do not like popular shows or music or what’s hot things. Colored skinny jeans = NO!!! Dexter = NO!!!! Most pop music = NO!!! I’m okay with it. It’s all just taste.

  • Alissa | CleverCompass.com

    I couldn’t watch Brothers and Sisters which many people, especially my parents loved because they ALL talked at the same time. I’ve also never watched Parenthood.

    • Oh, yes! I’ve heard a lot of people compare Parenthood to Brothers and Sisters (which I never watched), which is funny to me. It’s just a slightly different hue of the same “color,” I guess. 🙂

  • Jamee

    I love Parenthood! But totally agree that it’s just a waste of precious time to watch something you don’t love. I never could get into The Office. People always told me I just needed to watch it more, but I couldn’t do it. I don’t really get into a lot of the stupid comedy shows that people (especially my husband) like. Right now I am loving The Voice.

    • Yeah, I’m sort of lukewarm on The Office myself. And you have to wonder about people advising to “just watch more,” like you’ll somehow become numb to whatever it is you don’t get or don’t like about a show. 🙂 And we watched The Voice the first season (I think the format is different and very interesting!), but totally missed getting into yet this year.

  • Chant

    i like the show because most of the time, the talking over each other and quick responses sort of make it seem more real. In stead of, ‘your line, now my line’, but thats about it. i find myself ffw scenes where the kids are involved. i think they are REALLY disrespectful. Yes kids do act like that, but only with really bad parenting. Which is confusing because Julia, Christina and Adam seem put together and firm yet they every time max or sid do something disrespectful(which is almost cringe worthy) i expect them to reprimand the kids….and nothing…and the fast forwarding follows…

    So i find a huge clash with whats realistic and whats not and it bugs me. I hate when shows make round strong characters act out of character to get the storyline to a certain point. it loses me every time. 

    • You made a really good point that I didn’t even think of – how sometimes the characters are used just to advance the plot. I saw a lot of that with the last few episodes of this show, and it was not only confusing, but a little annoying. Thanks for your comment and perspective!

  • Theresonlyonemello

    I know this article is several years old, but my wife recently started watching this show and MAN I canNOT stand how they talk on top of each other. It’s bad writing that they just let them “improvise” those segments, but it’s all just noise.

    • I always watched this show on my own, so never had to subject my husband to suffering through it. 😉 I have to tell you something, though. Even though this post *was* written a couple of years ago, I still get several visits each week from people Googling “why do they talk so much in Parenthood?” or similar queries. Obviously it bugs a lot of people! 🙂

  • Mark

    Hi Stacey! I agree 100% with your analysis of Parenthood! What an annoying way to direct a show!!! the talking over each other thing HAS to be intentional because no other show (that I’ve seen) uses this technique of communication. Absolutely HORRIBLE!!!

  • Miriam Hardy

    I just started watching the show and wanna know how I found this page? I Google-d “Parenthood talk-” but I didn’t even finishing typing “talking over each other” when it came up as a suggested search. I guess we aren’t the only ones who think this. SO MANY people have told me I HAVE to watch this show, and, frankly, I am confused by the suggestion. I have a kid on the spectrum, who is nothing like the kids on the spectrum I’ve seen on the show, but am I a wreck like these people? God, I hope I’m at least less rude and scream-y.

    • nweb

      So I know your response to a post that is five years old is a year old itself, but oh my goodness, do I agree with you!

      This show in its entirety is on Netflix and I’ve had a lot of people tell me that I need to watch it, so after hearing that for two years, I thought I’d give it a try. Watching it in small doses hasn’t helped. It’s awful to me, whether you binge watch it or watch one or two episodes a week.

      I have a younger brother who has Aspergers. He wasn’t diagnosed until he was 13, but never, ever acted like that kid on the show! I know every kid on the spectrum is different, but I have never known an Aspie to be that horrible, to throw those kind of tantrums or come close to the way they portray that kid. Severely autistic people like my brother-in-law who can’t say more than four or five words- yes. But high functioning autistics? Nope, never seen that kind of behavior. Like I said, my brother wasn’t diagnosed until he was older, and he never got that out of control, even without hiring someone to play with him and give him stickers when he behaved.

      I really can’t stand the show- not just because of all the talking over each other, but it’s just that awful. I’m not a big fan of Dax Shepard, but I wouldn’t wish that fiance of his on anyone. Not telling him he’s a dad for five years, and then constantly using that kid as a pawn whenever he has the nerve to stand up for himself and then getting mad anytime he mentions that he does have legal rights. Every post I have seen that knocks this show acts like Adam and Kristina are shining examples of parenthood- if they are such awesome parents, then why do have the two worst kids on the show? A daughter who lies to them all the time and a son that on the autism spectrum or not is need of a good time out and learning that being told no and that the world does not actually revolve around him is not actually going to kill him. Okay, Sydney comes in pretty close to being just as bad, but I do not understand why anyone thinks Kristina and Adam are actually good parents. And then Lauren Graham’s character is pretty much Lorelai Gilmore with a son and a daughter. I think before the first season was over, she’d already slept with five different guys.

      Parenthood is tough- I’ve got four kids of my own. And I don’t think they are perfect little angels. They know how to talk back, how to misbehave and how to ruin moments that are supposed to be full of fun. But none of them come close to acting like the little brats those Bravermans are raising. Probably because we actually take time to listen to each other instead of yelling at each other, trying to see who can yell the loudest. The show “Parenthood” is one of the most unrealistic shows about parenthood that I have ever seen.

      Okay, rant over.

  • Stephanie Hazeem

    It isn’t even a disrespect thing for me…It does not sound “normal” it sounds like a bunch of people with mental issues babbling… The acting is bad in this regard, and they do it, A LOT. It’s really annoying. I felt the acting was so poor in this regard i couldn’t continue to watch.