Monday, October 15, 2012

A Tribute to Great Television: Brothers & Sisters

From the Waltons to the Walkers, television families have evolved over the years.  Throughout the years television dramas have changed, much like the the landscape of television.  The Waltons could be seen as the first family of television drama, their show first started airing in 1972, and ran for nine seasons.  The television series takes people through the journey of a family in rural Virginia during the Great Depression and World War II.

Cut to years later, numerous television dramas do not focus on the family, but we have experienced some incredible dynasties (no pun intended) watching the Ewings, the Carringtons, the Walshes, and The Sopranos navigate the tension of everyday life.  Yet there is one show in recent memory that has focused on the family, and all the things that come along with it in in the 2000s and that is Brothers & Sisters.

Brothers & Sisters (2006-2011) centers on the Walker family who own a business named Ojai Foods.  The shows family members include father William Walker (Tom Skerritt), Nora Walker (Sally Field).  Williams and Nora had five children Sarah (Rachel Griffiths), Tommy (Balthazar Getty), who were executives at the family business, Kitty (Calista Flockheart) who was a conservative political analyst, Kevin (Matthew Rhys) a lawyer, and Justin (David Annable) a veteran of of the Iraq war.  Together these different people along with Saul (Ron Rifkin) who plays Nora's brother and Holly Harper (Patricia Wettig) who plays William's mistress come together to create one of few shows that is truly about the modern family.

At the beginning of the first episode Kitty comes home to California from New York to field a job offer to be a talking head on a news show.  Along with celebrating her return after many years absent, the family gets together to celebrate her birthday.  At her birthday party she and her liberal mother bury the hatchet for her father, but in the end William has a heart attack and passes away.  As the family mourns William's death they start to realize that life may be as perfect as they imagined.  William stole money from his employees, had numerous affairs, and helped his children cover up crimes, sounds bit a melodramatic, but the material that comes from this show proves that family is something that sticks by your side.

Throughout the five years this show was on the air The Walkers faced "financial hardships," cancer, divorce, infidelity, death, black mail, political scandals and much more.  Yet through all the pain and heart break this family stuck together through thick and thin, except when Tommy messed up, but that is mainly Balthazar Getty's fault.  The show added spouses and significant others throughout the years like Robert McCallister (Rob Lowe) who was Kitty's husband, and Rebecca Harper (Emily VanCamp) who played their potential half sister/Justin's wife for a time, yet the core of the family was always the central focus.

While this show had a soapy/melodramatic feel the emotions of the family rang true, and show runner Greg Berlanti (Political Animals) showed that blood is thicker than water, and no matter what divides you whether that be political party or your mother driving you crazy, family has a way of knowing you best, and being there for you when you need them most.

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