Tavi Gevinson, the 17 year-old fashion blogger, Rookie Mag founder and editor-in-chief, TED Talker, Broadway actress and Miley Cyrus interviewer, is adding Queer Primetime TV Character to her already dizzyingly impressive resume. This Thursday on NBC’s, Parenthood, Haddie Braverman, played by actress Sarah Ramos, is coming home with blonde hair and a new girlfriend, played by the aforementioned Gevinson.
My biggest problem with Parenthood has always been that it’s a show about family that has a seemingly infinite number of people, yet not a single one of them is queer. Well, now that problem is finally being solved this week when Haddie returns from college with her “friend” Lauren in tow. Haddie has had a few relationships in the past on the show, but so far, they’ve all been with guys. And lately, she’s been completely absent from the show. After graduating from high school and going across the country to attend Cornell University she came back home once or twice and then kind of disappeared entirely.
Haddie has had a pretty tumultuous time on the show, and she’s not really known as a fan favorite. But I’ve always held a soft spot for her, probably because I was a fan of Ramos’ from her time on American Dreams. Haddie has always been a bit of an overachiever in the Braverman clan, so she and Tavi should make a great pair. I’m sure their relationship will be filled with time served at a soup kitchen, discussions about their feminist ideals and days spent creating a website designed to empower teen girls — all while maintaining straight As. On the other hand, Haddie’s also been a bit of a rebel, and has fought with her parents about who she was dating before, so hopefully that will give her some courage in coming out to them this time.
We don’t know very many details of this storyline just yet. From the preview, we gather that Haddie’s coming home for a visit, she brought Lauren with her, there’s something that she’s not ready to tell her family, and she and Lauren like to kiss. We also see that Haddie’s little brother, Max, asks their mom the question “If two girls are kissing, does that mean they’re lesbians?” So we can guess that they get caught kissing. Haddie seems to be a little apprehensive about coming out to her family, which is totally understandable, but if she wasn’t ready to let the whole world know, bringing her girlfriend to a family gathering probably wasn’t the best idea. Now, to answer Max’s question, they could be lesbians, or bisexual or pansexual or queer or whatever label they want to use.
I really hope that this isn’t played off as a “lesbian until graduation” thing, and that instead they explore the idea of sexual fluidity or bisexuality with Haddie’s character. Even though she’s been shown to date guys before, she could easily and realistically have realized when she went off to college that she’s not as straight as she thought. It would be a real shame if this is just a one-time thing to boost ratings. The show has touched on pretty much every other TV Family Issue in the book. They’ve seen cancer, single parents, job loss, infidelity, PTSD, pregnancy, adoption, money problems and autism, so it’s been a little weird to see that there haven’t been any queer members of the Braverman clan yet. This is the season finale, so we’ll have to wait until next year to see where this story goes, but I’m sure there will be enough family discussions and tear-inducing moments in this episode to last the entire summer.
The season finale of Parenthood airs on NBC this Thursday, April 17, at 10 PM ET/PT. You can check out the preview yourself to see what’s about to go down.