Margaret Lyons
April 07, 2010 AT 07:30 PM EDT

Image Credit: Justin Lubin/NBCParenthood should be my favorite show: Gilmore Girls and Six Feet Under are two of my all-time faves, I’m the world’s biggest fan of family dramas, I was raised on Bob Dylan songs, and I firmly believe that executive producer Jason Katims’ other show, Friday Night Lights, is one of the best shows in living memory. And yet Parenthood still hasn’t quite hooked me, even with last night’s addition of Minka Kelly.

Kelly was perfect as Max’s behavioral aide — she brought the right blend of perky, accessible, and knowledgeable — but she’s only on board for a two-episode arc. I’m hoping this means we’ll move away from “And Now, Let Us Explain Autism As Best We Can” storytelling and into more organic, this-is-just-normal-to-this-family plots. If anyone can find the ecstatic beauty and drama in ordinary moments, it’s Katims — which is why I’m sticking around.

I’m a little ticked that a beloved FNLer is coming and going so quickly (can we get Jesse Plemons on here somehow?), but deep down I know that the last thing this show needs is more characters. Last night’s episode some solid moments, but the stories seemed so separate from each other — it would be nice to see the various plots and characters affect one another, so everyone has a stake in everything. More importantly, though, I’m eager for the show to break some new narrative ground at this point: I’ve seen Lauren Graham romance a teacher before, and as much as I like Jason Ritter (a lot! I’m the world’s only fan of The Class!), he’s no Max Medina. The fabulous Mae Whitman has played angsty teen before both on Thief (again, world’s only fan) and In Treatment, and those roles gave her a lot more to do than just pout. Erica Christensen’s story feels an awful lot like the first season of Brothers and Sisters (except without any of Rachel Griffiths’ sardonic style), and Dax Shepard is just J.D. from Scrubs. (How can I grow up when I am so special and unique? Excuse me while everyone falls in love with me!) Even the autism edutainment was done on The Shield, of all places.

What did you think of Kelly’s performance last night? And how are you feeling about Parenthood in general?

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