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From Hero to Zero: The Sudden Decline of Parenthood's Joel Graham

I've often been accused of being too hard on Julia Braverman-Graham (Erika Christensen). For years, I thought of her as a harpy with a heart of gold, someone who wasn't necessarily one-dimensional or incorrigible, but definitely unaffectedly selfish and quick to minimize the feelings of anyone who wasn't her. I want to believe that it's because she's a Braverman, because she's part of the Bay Area clan whose members are no strangers to jackassery, and not because she's some kind of conditioned misanthrope with hackles raised, a byproduct of being a career-minded, type-A woman in an occupation dominated by boys.
But the more I've thought about it, the more I've come to realize that my opinion of Julia probably wasn't so much a result of my crippling male gaze as it was her husband, the superhuman Joel Graham (Sam Jaeger). Standing next to him must be like understanding what martyrdom is about. Though everyone who's married into the Bravermans can be described as long-suffering—you know, since they don't have the blood of Zeek running through their veins and can't understand the innate self-importance that comes with living for years on the family's Berkley compound—Joel managed to rise above the rest of the rabble. He was a realized domestic demigod, someone who listened, who was compassionate, who ran a home with such alacrity, competence, and sensitivity that it was hard not to love everything he did and marvel at the unending patience he had for a wife who tended to make appearances rather than participate and a daughter whose goal was to be every kid you ever hated in elementary school. Why don't you tattle some more, Syd? Let's really make some friends. More at
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