Sometimes I wonder why my mother and I seem to be the only people I know who watch Brothers & Sisters. And then I tried to describe the show to a friend:
“Well, it’s about the lives and misadventures of this family called the Walkers – Nora, the matriarch; Saul, her brother; and her children, Tommy, Sarah, Kitty, Kevin and Justin. In the first episode they seem like the typical idyllic TV family, until the patriarch, William Walker, dies of a heart attack. The rest of the first season unfolds with the family finding out William isn’t everything he seemed. Meaning, he had a mistress for the past 20 years of his marriage. And his mistress had a daughter who William believed was his. But as the seasons go on, you find out that daughter, Rebecca, isn’t actually his offspring which is good since she totally falls in love with the youngest Walker, Justin, and they start dating. It’s eventually revealed that William did indeed have an illegitimate offspring, a boy named Ryan with yet ANOTHER mistress. This mistress ended up killing herself after William broke her heart, and so Ryan bears a rather major grudge against the Walker clan. Especially since he also had feelings for Rebecca and lost her to Justin, who she got engaged to and is currently impregnated by. Also, between the five Walker siblings, there’s been 2 divorces, an affair with one of Rebecca’s friends, the utter financial ruin of the family business, at least three trips to rehab (just for the one character), the artificial insemination of one brother’s wife by his gay brother, financial fraud, marriage to a senator, the heart attack of said senator, three marriages, the adoption of a baby and, most recently, cancer. Last night ot was determined that Kitty’s only chance of survival from the lymphoma was a bone marrow transplant, but, of course, the only person who is a match is Ryan, the illegitimate son who wants nothing to do with the Walkers.”
Seriously. Most soap operas take 20 years to get this melodramatic and cheesy with their storylines. Brothers & Sisters is only in its fourth season.
So why do I watch it? Simply put, the acting. Somehow, watching these characters’ lives unfold never feels false or cheesy or ridiculous in the hands of these actors. Of course there’s Sally Field, an Oscar winner for a reason, and the eternally youthful looking Rob Lowe, who just oozes charm. Calista Flockhart, Rachel Griffiths, Patricia Wettig, Emily Van Camp… a lot of the cast reads like a “who’s who” of television elite (ok, maybe not Emily Van Camp. I just always had a soft spot for her on Everwood!) but the surprises are the actors you’ve probably never heard of and probably should have. My personal favourite is Matthew Rhys who plays Kevin, the uptight, cynical lawyer who rarely seems comfortable in his own skin. Watching the character develop from insecure gay man who, despite being out of the closet, was usually very reserved and uncomfortable with his own sexuality to a strong, independent man who loves his husband, his family, his job and doesn’t let his sexuality define him has been a wonder. He is funny, moving, and does one of the best dinosaur impressions I’ve ever seen. (Seriously, if you only ever watch one episode, watch Game Night. Not only do you get the stellar dinosaur impression, you get to watch the Walkers at their very best/worst: competitive, bickering, but fiercely loyal.) For a show about so many deep and heart-wrenching subjects I think I spend more time laughing at the ridiculous exploits of this family of misfits than I do feeling sad over their misfortunes.
Despite how utterly ridiculous and yes, bordering on predictable now, most of the storylines are, it’s hard for me to not love Brothers & Sisters. The characters are so relatable and I seem so much of me and my family (both immediate and extended) in these people. And I think since my mom comes from a rather large family herself she feels much the same way. Regardless, I don’t see myself not sitting in anticipation at 9:59 on a Sunday night anytime soon.
- did 30 minutes on the treadmill at 3 mph. Not that impressive, but a start.
- applied to 10 jobs. I think I have a legitimate shot at maybe 3 of them, but we’ll see.
Tonight I will:
- Read at least 50 pages of “The Murder of King Tut” by James Patterson (I’m taking my mom to see a Tut exhibit on Sunday, and she insists I bone up on my knowledge about the boy king)
- Watch Singin’ In The Rain with the commentary on. I’m tacking this on to my resolution list: Watch ALL the features on my favourite DVDs. Otherwise, why have the DVDs at all?
- NOT eat anything after 11pm. Another last-minute addition to the resolution list. I have a terrible habit of midnight snacking and this needs to stop. So Any and all snacking must cease and desist by 11pm. Next week, I’ll try pushing it even earlier, but we’ll see how this week goes.
Rebecca: Okay, I never really had brothers and sisters so I don’t know how big families work, um, maybe this is the normal thing to do you know, just do things in a clump, like you all get together, solve problems.
Kevin: No, no, we tend to make things worse and then blame each other.
Sarah: Yeah, that’s pretty much how it works.
– Brothers & Sisters