I won’t be able to watch “Brothers and Sisters” (returning Sunday, three new episodes left) without remembering respected creator Jon Robin Baitz’s recent parting shot as he announced he was leaving the show because of conflicts with ABC suits. As reported by “TV Guide,” Baitz cited pressure to steer the show away from older-skewing characters and dramatic stories and toward the younger set and soapier tales.
I can… only watch as the demographic demands that have turned America into an ageist and youth-obsessed nation drives the storylines younger and younger, whiter and whiter, and with less and less reflection of the real America. I will never again have to do a notes call wherein the fear and seasickness of the creative execs always prevail over taking a risk, resulting more often than not in muddy and flattening or treacly sweet compromises.
I cannot help but dream about what my version of Brothers & Sisters would have looked like. A show that could simply hold on the aging and real face of Sally Field, and reflect the sorrow and rage there… reflect the cold and funny sexuality of Patty Wettig’s Holly, the perfect reconstruction of the L.A. mistress… hold on the eyes of Ron Rifkin, and reflect the wisdom, joyous childishness and the melancholy. A show [that] could have followed the youngest, prodigal son to Iraq [and] shown his fellow soldiers, dying… allowed Calista Flockhart’s character to be actually truly political… go even further in dealing with Kevin Walker’s internalized homophobia and his fear of contact with others.