“… Plus, Parenthood is capable of scenes like the one on the car ride back from Sacramento in tonight’s episode, in which via bits and pieces, Max’s story of why he threw a tantrum in the middle of the class trip to Sutter’s Mill came out. One of the other kids started to make fun of him and told him he was a freak, and everybody else laughed at him. Instead of brushing it off, as Mr. Knight says he usually does, he had the very understandable reaction of, y’know, not wanting everybody to laugh at him and freaked out. But what rang true here wasn’t just Max’s reaction to the kids making fun of him; it was Adam and Kristina’s powerlessness to do anything about it. At one point, Adam calls the kid who made fun of Max an “asshole,” and he’s right about that, but he’s also talking about a 14-year-old boy. If Adam actually tried to do anything about it, he’d get thrown in jail."
"This is where the show is on much firmer ground handling Max’s Asperger’s: When he gets into a situation he doesn’t know how to handle, he can sometimes shut down. That’s happened less and less as the show has gone on (as Adam says to Mr. Knight), but where other kids might throw a punch or come up with some sort of forced, witty retort or even just retreat entirely and try to avoid the bully, Max is just as likely to unleash his emotions seemingly at random, in a way that’s scary to those who aren’t used to it, like Mr. Knight. Jason Katims has based at least some of Max on his own son, and while fiction and reality will necessarily diverge, it’s in scenes like this one or the scenes featuring Max from “Let’s Be Mad Together” where the show does some of its finest work. So long as these stories are about Adam, Kristina, and Max all working together to navigate daily life, as opposed to, like, Adam and Kristina starting a charter school, this is still one of the more effective portrayals of parenting a child on the spectrum on TV (and maybe the only one).”