This week on Peter Krause Comically Walks Through African-American Neighborhoods, And Everybody Looks At Him Strangely Because Of How He’s Dressed, a baby was born. This was no great surprise, particularly if you watch the ads or watch the “next week on” promos or saw that the title of the episode was “Nora” and thought, “Hey, there’s no one on this show named Nora. I wonder which crazy new character will be introduced?” And while there are some really silly, really stupid moments in this episode, I kind of loved it all the same. It could just be the fact that there are babies involved, and everybody likes babies. It could also be the fact that this episode—like the best episodes of Erika Christensen Walks Into A Hospital And Says Give Me All Of The Babies, Please—really nails the way it is to be having an argument with someone in your family and then have something happen that supersedes all of that and pulls you closer together.
That ending really works to pull this episode together. It’s the stuff beforehand that… has its problems, to put it mildly. In particular, the Julia and Joel storyline continues on its calamitous way, and tonight, we got to watch the two show off their skills at being a nuclear family, to the degree that Julia’s best, baby-bearing pal, the Coffee Girl, was so impressed that she decided, against her better judgment to let them adopt her baby, who will be a little boy. Now, the scene where Julia hugged her for making her decision was a pretty sweet one, but everything leading up to this was just ridiculously silly, contrived within an inch of its life to get the Coffee Girl (whose name I refuse to learn because I’m petulant about this plotline) inside the Julia/Joel manse, where Sydney could charm her by painting Joel’s fingernails and touching her pregnant stomach. (“Cool,” says Sydney, who knows nothing about the struggles of being single and pregnant in modern society and just thinks pregnancy is a grand mystery or something. FIGHT THE PATRIARCHY, SYD!)
Anyway, it more or less makes sense that this girl would be impressed by the gentle, loving home life of Julia and Joel—who is the greatest person in the history of life itself—but so moved that she decides to overcome her previously stated positions? That she decides to give her baby to a known crazy person? It’s not that I fundamentally dislike the idea of the Coffee Girl giving birth to Julia and Joel’s new child. It’s that the ending a few weeks ago—where she said she wanted a closed adoption and couldn’t imagine anything else—was such a touching close for this story that even if the writers had wanted to go on with it, I wish they had just had Julia helping Coffee Girl out where she could and not being immediately rewarded for doing so. It wasn’t even like she had to struggle for this! She was just nice for a day or so, and that was it. Baby! I get that this show doesn’t like to push the conflict too hard, but this is really just ridiculous.
Over in other parts of the show, everybody’s got baby fever. The Adam/Crosby/Kristina stuff was some of the stronger material those three have had in a while, and despite the aforementioned very stupid scene of Adam walking around in what he imagined to be hip hop gear (that would have always looked stupid on him but would have looked less stupid in 2005), there was a lot to enjoy here. Adam realizing he couldn’t hip it up and asking Crosby to grab him a suit was good. (The partnership works so much better if Crosby is Crosby and Adam is Adam.) Crosby exaggerating… or lying… about whether Mista Ray was on board was also good, as was Kristina’s slow devolution once she realized that everything was not going according to plan and took it out on her brother-in-law. And then, of course, because this is television, her water broke. (Water is always waiting for the slightest provocation to break on TV.) But the scene where she and Crosby were at the hospital together, and he had to be a fill-in Adam was just great. Here are these two people who are diametrically opposed opposites, now bound together in a moment of extreme excitement and change. And then little Nora is born, and all of the Bravermans come together for one, nice moment. (Also good: Adam going ahead with the meeting with Mista Ray, though he was ridiculously dressed.)
My favorite part of the episode, however, was my favorite part of every episode of Amber And Max Watch YouTube Videos Of Bill Clinton To Learn About Feelings And Stuff. The idea of putting Amber and Max together ended up being quite inspired, and I loved how she very slowly plied him with Tootsie Rolls to get him to understand how to give Jabbar an effective apology. Basically everything about this storyline worked, from the performances to the writing to the central conceit, and if this is all a setup to get Amber to be Max’s new afternoon helper, then I think that’s a great idea. (I don’t think Kristina mentioning Gaby was for nothing.) Every time the story cut back to this storyline, I was thrilled just to watch these two interact. Odd character pairings seemed to be the order of the day for this episode (except for Julia, who continues to be stuck off in her own show), and this was the one that worked best for me.
Finally, there’s Sarah and her ex-husband, who returns just to get drunk and have Zeek kick his ass. There’s so little of this storyline that I’m going to reserve judgment on it until next week’s episode rolls around and gives us a better sense of what’s going on. The big John Corbett arc last season was one of the best things the show did last year, and it also gave Miles Heizer something good to play. But there’s always a temptation to go back to a well like that over and over again, and I’m not sure what new will be added this time beyond the obvious drama of him falling off the wagon so spectacularly and Jason Ritter Is An English Teacher Who Loves Your Mom not being sure what to do in this situation. It’s not bad or anything; it’s just the sort of storyline that gives me pause without really knowing what’s coming next.
But, hey, babies. And, ultimately, that’s all this episode had to do. Now that Nora’s here, let’s all hope she doesn’t take over The Nora Braverman Show with her maniacal ways. (She almost certainly will.)
- Missing Braverman of the week: For getting over a break-up and having her parents have another kid, Haddie sure was absent this week. She pops up at the end, looking happy about having a new baby sister, but you know she’s gotta be plotting.
- So Max is in the fifth grade, eh? That would make him 10 or 11, by my count. Is that at all believable with the actor playing him? I guess sort of. But it’s a stretch.
- Jabbar is always ready to accept an apology quickly, which makes him a contender for Braverman of the week every week. You just know Kristina would still be harboring a grudge.
- Oh, right. Jasmine is dating Principal Wood. Crosby is upset about it because, well, when isn’t Crosby upset about a woman wanting to sleep with someone other than him? On the other hand, he’s dating a girl named Tough, so he has it pretty good.
- Braverman of the week: Amber. Your terrible haircut has started to look like a decent haircut, and your ability to coach Max using videos of presidents in their moments of greatest disgrace is unparalleled. For this, we salute you, Amber. (Runner-up: Nora. For all her diabolical plans. AND FOR BEING SUCH A CUTE WIDDLE BABY. YES SHE IS. YES SHE IS!)