You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for the writers of Parenthood to write a gay character into the show. NO IDEA. In fact, a few years ago, in a New Years entertainment AfterEllen Huddle wish list, I listed “a gay character on Parenthood” as my only wish for 2011. Three years later, my wish has been granted. Cue the acoustic lady jams and move the Tegan and Sara poster from Amber’s room, seems Haddie is coming out of hiding, and with her, she’s bringing a girlfriend.
But lez back up, if you’re unfamiliar with the show, it might be hard to catch you up on 5 seasons, but I can do my best. One thing to note is that it is impossible to make it through an entire episode of Parenthood without crying and you’ll always come back for more feelings induced blubbering. The show is based around the Bravermans, an extended family headed by Coach (Craig T. Nelson as Zeek) and that lady from the Die Hard franchise (Bonnie Bedelia as Camille) with their four adult children, Dax from Punk’d (Crosby), Erika Christensen (Julia), Lauren Graham in another hip young mom roll (Sarah) and Nate Fisher. Er, I mean, Peter Krause as Adam Braverman. They’ve all had 2.5 kids and live fairly comfortable lives in Berkley, surviving, thriving and struggling through interpersonal relationships. The season finale left us wondering, will Julia and her husband, Joel, stay separated, will Sarah and her ex-boyfriend, Hank, get back together and how many times will I sob openly before the credits roll. It also answered a question that’s been plaguing the Parenthood fan forums, where the hell has Haddie been?
On the show, Haddie left for college at the end of Season 3 never to be seen again, except for a few reoccurring appearances to visit her cancer-stricken mom, Kristina (Monica Potter). Turns out the actress, Sarah Ramos, was taken off contract at the end of the third season to attend college in real life, and her big comeback episode provided what we all hoped it would, a coming out episode.
At first we see Haddie on her flight from the east coast. Thinking she’s alone, she taps an unfamiliar girl next to her, to lean over her and look out the window. Except, we do know that girl! It’s Tavi Gevinson of Rookie fame! I’m with you, she is an odd choice for any acting roll, and I had no idea she was college aged yet, but indeed she is, I checked. As for Haddie, as she walks up to her childhood home to the WELCOME BACK HADDIE sign being hung across the front entrance, it seems she’s looking hotter, collegian, and slightly more Clea Duvall in a pantsuit. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, she introduces Lauren to her parents as her “super awesome best friend.” Seems we have a story arc to uphold.
Later in the episode, while lying in Haddie’s childhood room, like you do, Lauren admits she doesn’t mind Haddie taking her time with coming out. She explains to Haddie that her parents are not going to love her any less but she’s more than happy to be her super awesome best friend until she’s ready to come out to them. Obviously Lauren has never experienced the emotional wrath that is Kristina Braverman. As they kiss, a choir of angels sings! Not really, but in true Parenthood style, Haddie’s brother Max busts through her door and catches them in action.
Let the countdown to coming out begin! Haddie’s first opportunity is with her dad, Adam. He asks about Lauren and Haddie describes their friendship as a relationship like none she’s ever had before, saying, “She really gets me and introduces me to new stuff and pushes me to be better. It’s been really important and good for me.” Not getting what seems to be a major hint, Adam congratulates her and assures her that the friends she makes in college can be for a lifetime. Like, way to be clueless, dad.
In the final, come to Jesus moment, and having learned from Max about the kiss heard round the Parenthood stratosphere, Kristina makes her way into Haddie’s room to talk. Diving right in, she assures Haddie saying, “I want you to know how much I support you. If you ever want to talk about things.” Haddie takes advantage of the situation saying, “Yeah, we’re dating. I don’t know. I know you’re really open, and super Berkley but I didn’t want to scare you, or freak you out. Cuz, nothing’s really different.”
And then the most quotable, sob-inducing, moment of the night comes from Kristina, as usual. “Haddie, scare me how? No, I would never be upset with you for following your heart. I just want you to be truly happy. I love you no matter what.” Never mind it being the easiest, and most Parenthood-style coming out ever, IT WAS AWESOME.
My only real critique was the choice of Tavi as Haddie’s new GF. As much I love Rookie, I’d have loved to see a queer actress, or mayhaps a more universal freshman year lesbian experience on the ol’ NBC. You know what I’m talking about, we’ve all had one and it was probably an emotional roller coaster and not with someone as put together and poised as Lauren. Then again, there’s always next season for watching Haddie find herself in what I hope is the catalyst to bring her character back to the show. If not, we can always bank on Kristina and Adam’s two year old daughter, Nora, coming out in season 20. Until that point, if you haven’t seen the show, I recommend starting it from the beginning and catching up. Just remember to budget for more tissues.