Everything I need to know, I learned from Amber Holt

I am notoriously behind on television shows, and Parenthood was no different. When I finished Friday Night Lights in January of this year, I was going through the hardest time in my adult life and I absolutely needed something to occupy my time. Mourning the loss of new episodes of FNL, I dived right into Parenthood and it is no exaggeration when I say that Amber got me through a rough five weeks. (Which is how long it took me to watch the entire series.) I know the series finale already happened a while ago, but considering the news that the Parenthood team is working on a new show, I thought it was as good a time as any to recap my true devotion to Amber Holt.

Not to mention, I have a little bit of a big crush on Mae Whitman. She is an absolutely incredible actress and human.


1. Don’t blame your mother for everything.
Though Amber grows exponentially throughout Parenthood, the show begins with a very angsty Amber blaming her mother for everything. She blames her for separating her from her boyfriend, she blames her for them moving away from their home, she’s mean to her about basically everything that has ever happened in their lives. However, in a similar Gilmore Girls fashion, Sarah and Amber have a closerthanthis relationship. The two are incredibly similar, and I think any lady who is just like her mother knows the frustration that comes with that fact of life. It is not your mother’s fault. She is trying. (Especially Sarah.)

2. You will not definitely become your parents.
Besides her issues with her mother, Amber has a very serious case of Not Wanting to Become Her Mother. I had a really hard time with something very similar with my father, though he was not quite like Seth, Amber’s dad. It took me until I was 23 to breathe deep and realize that we do not have to become exactly like our parents. For all of their positives and negatives, we are in control of our lives. Amber eventually realizes that she is her own person, which is a really nice way to wrap-up her character.

3. Take hair risks.

Speaking of chopping her hair off (err, as I will below), who else can pull off that many hairstyles in six seasons? Props to Whitman. I am also a big fan of changing your hair up, in general. I’ve done it all at this point. It’s a great way to heal.

4. Take other risks too.
I am not referring to the kind of irresponsible risks she takes, but I am talking about the things she does like playing open mic nights! In front of her entire family! I mean, I am a writer, but thinking about reading anything I have written in front of an audience, nonetheless in front of everyone I’m related to, really freaks me out. That’s like bravery to the mask. (Braverman hahaha I GET IT.)

5. Believe in yourself.
Though Amber does not have life as easy as her cousin Haddie, or really anyone else, she always ends up mustering up the strength it takes to believe in herself. After her terrible accident that was basically a direct response to not getting into college, Amber comes back in the new season with a chopped off blonde hair cut and a new fancy job at a city councilman’s office. Yeah, Bob what’shisface ends up being a jerk, but she is killer at the job because she speaks her mind and uses her always charismatic attitude to work her way to the semi-top.

6. It’s OK to apologize.
When we first meet Amber, she is bratty, “wild” (or more wild than her cousin Haddie and her brother Drew), and pretty unapologetic. Amber does whatever she wants and it is very rare for her to apologize. She has a couple of stand-out moments of growth—when humbling things happen in her life. Although Amber getting with her cousin’s boyfriend was an incredibly low move, she realized it and apologized profusely for it. Obviously apologies do not immediately make everything better, so even after the physical fighting and the moms getting involved, Amber makes it up to Haddie.

Even more importantly, when Amber goes through her downward spiral of bad choices after not being accepted into college (even with stellar SAT scores), she ends up in a very serious, very avoidable car accident. The entire family is at the hospital for her, and even though none of us viewers expected her to die, the episode is traumatic and very touching. Once Amber wakes up, she shows no remorse until her grandfather takes her to the car-dump (whatever that’s called) and shows her how bad the vehicle looks. In a huge SOB MOMENT (if you’re me), Zeek tells Amber that she does “not have permission to mess with [his] dreams,” referring to nearly losing her. Amber apologizes to her mother at the premiere of the play she wrote—something that makes me cry even thinking about it.

7. Throw your five year plans out the window.
When Amber and Ryan are engaged, things start to go a bit sour. He doesn’t want his family to be there, Sarah is a little concerned about the sanctity of their relationship, Ryan has PTSD and drug addiction issues, no one wants Amber to marry a guy like her dad, and the list goes on and on. Though their engagement gets called off, when Ryan is sent home from the military, Amber gets pregnant and wants to keep the baby. You know what’s cool? She just does it on her own, because she wants to. She does not beg Ryan to come back. She thinks of her future child first and does not allow Ryan in his life until he’s clean. She does not panic about what the future will be like at all, which I really admire in a person. Five year plans are not real anyway.

8. Forgive your father.
Though most of it is off-screen, when Ryan and Amber split, Amber goes on a drive and doesn’t tell anyone where she’s going. She gets a little too drunk in a bar and ends up arguing with a man, and luckily, her father works there and swoops in to save her from driving home drunk. I’m almost positive that is the last we see of Seth, but it is pretty clear that he may have been the only person who could get through to her at that point. He sends her future son a crib later, and everyone seems pretty happy about it.

As a chick who forgave her father after 20 years, I highly recommend it. Holding on to hate is never a good thing—and I love grudges.

9. Brothers are built-in best friends.
Drew and Amber’s relationship is one of the best parts of Parenthood. On and off screen, the two are the perfect duo. Amber talks Drew through so much growing up—through his girlfriend problems, through breakups and college choices, and everything. Though Drew is younger, he does the same for Amber, even driving halfway across the country to escort her when she tells Ryan she is pregnant. I can’t even with these two—and I never say that.

10. Family is pretty alright. 
Amber is definitely the Eye Roller in the family. She has a seemingly bad attitude about family gatherings and things like her mother’s birthday parties. In the end, however, she is the biggest team player. She works with her uncles, and eventually co-partners with one of them to keep their business going. She does anything and everything for her brother and mom. She loves her grandparents to death, even naming her son after her grandfather. She even maintains a solid relationship with Haddie, well after she’s out of the show and onto college. The most important part of life is, even though none of us are Bravermans or will ever be, our families are important. Whatever the word “family” means to you, embrace it.

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