Ahh just the title is a foreign entity in and of itself. As an only child I clearly have no idea what it’s like to have siblings. The only glimpses I’ve had is having cousins who are like siblings, a mother who is the third of four children, a best friend and a boyfriend who are the oldest of three kids and several other friends and family who have at least one sibling. But maybe that’s why I’m so transfixed on this show, as it depicts a family that consists of five children who are incredibly different yet similar at the same time. A chaotic household with a bunch of grown up siblings who all have their own agendas but value their family as a whole very much.
So maybe there is something I can relate to. Coming from a family that is Mafioso (in the best sense of the word) I can relate to the Walkers. My family has always put each other first and so does this family. I come from a family business and so do the Walkers; a business that is extremely important to every member of the family.
As tough as family is, the idea that blood is thicker than water means something. On Brothers & Sisters, the Walkers suffer a huge loss in the pilot episode when the father (Tom Skerritt) and patriarch of their family in every sense of the word, dies of a heart attack. While he was living he was respected, revered, loved and even feared but after his death the family finds out about his countless infidelities and indiscretions. This information crushes his family’s starry-eyed view of him but he isn’t there to shoulder the burden of the pain he causes. Instead, that burden is put on the matriarch of the family (Sally Field) who has to deal with the truth after several decades of marriage and deal with the questions and concerns of her five children:
Sarah (Rachel Griffiths) – the type-A working mother who has trouble juggling her job and family. Her issues are the most relatable of the siblings and she is part of the family business.
Kitty (Calista Flockhart) – the Republican radio show pundit turned political TV personality turned Communications Director for Senator Robert McCallister (Rob Lowe)/her future husband’s political campaign.
Tommy (Balthazar Getty) – the first-born son who is as All-American and Republican as they come. He is married to a beautiful woman (Sarah Jane Morris) and he is also part of the family business.
Kevin (Matthew Rhys) – is gay and a corporate lawyer. His sexuality is accepted by everyone in the family except his father. He is by far the most entertaining character on the show.
Justin (Dave Annable) – the drug addict war vet who has trouble staying clean and getting his act together. He pretends that he doesn’t care what his family thinks but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Throughout the four seasons this show has been on the air the Walkers have encountered marriage, divorce, illegitimate children, mistresses, bankruptcy, starting new businesses, infertility, birth, death and every other issue you can imagine. The arguments between the siblings are both real and entertaining and the ways in which they interact make you believe that they are actually related.
In addition to family issues, the show tackles political subjects in a way that I’ve yet to see on a family drama. While some characters emphasize “being green” others are more known for their NRA memberships. It reminds me once again that no matter what the medium, politics always finds its way into the discussion whether we like it or not.
That being said, Brothers & Sisters is an excellent show that examines the difficulties of family and the struggle it takes simply to be human. Season one is by far my favorite but I always look forward to the next episode of the show. I’m not sure what’s in store for this fall’s upcoming season but if I know the Walker family, it will be nothing short of entertaining.
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