By Kyle Price-Livingston
They say 30 is the new 20. As a kid in my early 20s I scoffed at this idea, dismissing it as yet another lie propagated by the elderly in a desperate attempt to regain their glory days. If I had been smart, I would have spent less time reveling in my youth and more time worrying that my glory days were being spent broke and hungover, but I figured there would be plenty of time to fix that stuff later. Oh to be young again.
Parked is the story of 4 friends in their 30s who are all in the process of coming to terms with adulthood. Not things like “I have to buy insurance now” or “nobody ever taught me how to do laundry,” but real problems like “my kid keeps vomiting” or “my ex’s new boyfriend is a lot more successful than I am” and even the dreaded “my life is never going to come together the way I always dreamed it would.” This is much scarier stuff than young single people have to face. Happily, Parked is a comedy, and if it doesn’t make one feel better about these concerns, it at least entertains as it elucidates them.
Directed by Peter DeLuise, this show is tight, funny and more than a little dark. Dads Tim (Kirby Morrow) and Davinder (Sean Amsing) seem like decent enough guys. However, if we are judged by the company we keep then they each get 2 big strikes for associating with childless, drug-addled Josh (hilariously portrayed by Matty Granger) and utter shit-heel (and father of two) Jesse (David Lewis), neither of whom appears to have any real interest in being a grownup.
Creators S. Siobhan McCarthy and Adam O. Thomas made a strong and interesting choice in having the mothers of the kids serve as the primary breadwinners. While this has become increasingly common in our society, it’s still extremely rare to see it depicted in media. My wife has a white collar job and out-earns me by a wide margin. I work from home and, when we have kids, our plan is for me to be a stay-at-home dad. This has not been easy to explain to some of our older family members. It’s refreshing to see other people doing it, even if they seem more than a little miserable. This is a transitional period for these longtime friends, and each of them is, in his own way, aware that things are changing (and that said changes are necessary). That unspoken awareness, combined with their nontraditional gender roles, creates a subtle tension to the show and adds some real depth to the characters.
I’m 29 now. I turn 30 in less than 2 months. I’m not broke (or at least not the way I was in my 20s). I’m married. I don’t have kids, but recently my wife and I have been talking about when and where we might like to go about getting some (I vote we just grab some healthy ones off the street, but apparently that’s “illegal.” Thanks, Obama). I can’t do shots anymore (not because I’m married, but because I am physically incapable of doing so without vomiting). After a busy weekend, I wake up tired and grumpy and wishing I had just stayed home and cleaned the apartment. I have a budget. I plan elaborate vacations and then abandon the ideas because they’re impractical. I worry about losing my hair, about gaining weight, about not being any fun anymore. I roll my eyes at the social lives of my younger relatives. I don’t always understand pop culture references. I remember when things used to be different than they are now, and I’m pretty sure things were better back then. I’m absolutely positive that society is falling apart…and I sometimes tell myself that 30 is the new 20. I have become that which I most feared. Parked gives me some hope that life in my 30s is at least possible, if not entirely comfortable.
**UPDATE** I have now watched the rest of the first season of Parked, and it ended up being every bit as awesome as the first couple of episodes promised. I won’t spoil the plot here, just know that the shenanigans continue, the plot gets more intricate, and things spiral into a zany conclusion that is as satisfying as it is humanizing. I honestly like these guys (well, most of them, anyway), and even though each and every one of them has aspects of their lives that make them unhappy, viewers can take joy in the fact that at least these fellas have one another.