Series / Brotherly Love
is an American sitcom that aired for two seasons: it first premiered on NBC
on September 16, 1995, and then moved to The WB
in September 1996 after NBC cancelled the series following its first season, only for it to be cancelled for good in May 1997.
It started real-life brothers Joey, Matt, and Andy Lawrence playing the protagonists Joe, Matt and Andy Roman
. In the Pilot Episode
, Joe – a very macho, kinda jerky but overall good guy – arrives in Philadelphia
while on a cross-country trip from Los Angeles
. The brothers' late father
Mike co-owned an auto garage, Roman Customizing, with his second wife Claire (Melinda Culea). Joe, Matt and Andy's estranged older half-brother, comes through town intending to sell his 25% stake in the garage to Claire, but he discovers that the garage has been struggling financially since Claire took over the business following Mike's death in a racing accident. After getting to know his younger brothers, 15-year-old Matt (an eccentric worrywart who deals with the normal trials and tribulations of being a teenager) and 6-year-old Andy (an imaginative youngster who initially often was seen in costume and had quite a few imaginary friends), he decides to stick around and help Claire run the business.
Rounding out the main cast were the garage's two staff mechanics: the intellectual, attractive and snarky Louise "Lou" Davis (Liz Vassey), who develops a Will They or Won't They?
relationship with Joe as the series goes on, and lovable oaf Lloyd Burwell (Mike McShane), who often takes others statements in the most literal of contexts and regularly misses other people's points
The show primarily focuses on Joe trying to adjust to his new job, helping his brothers and his various relationships; secondary storylines (and in certain episodes, both the "A" and "B" storylines) usually focus on Matt, Andy, Claire, Lloyd and Lou (with a combination of the first three featured in one of the stories and the latter two either appearing supplementary to the "A" story or involved in their own story). Although the series lasted only for 40 episodes, the show wound up in syndication from 1997 to 2002 on Disney Channel
in the U.S. and Family Channel in Canada.
This show provides examples of:
- '90s Hair: Joey's season one coif was similar to the Kurt Cobain hairstyle, for most of that season – except.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Whether Claire was this varied from episode to episode, though she would sometimes qualify for this trope depending on whenever she tried to act cool in front of Matt.
- A Simple Plan: The prank Joey came up with to get back at Matt's driving teacher, Mr. Hangarter, for failing his brother on his driving test in "The Driving Lesson". Joe, Lou, Matt and Lloyd tag-teamed to steal Hangarter's Precious Precious Car, disassemble it and reassemble it in his classroom. Only problem, Lloyd was too big to squeeze out the car as Joe was able to do, leaving him trapped in the car. Then, Claire decided to talk to Hangarter at Matt's school, as the rest of the gang try to rescue Lloyd, and catches them in the act. Hangarter notes to Claire that given the grades he gave to the class, it was bound to happen that someone would try to prank him.
- Big Brother Mentor: Jack in "Big Brotherly Love", whom was assigned to mentor Matt and Andy after Claire signed them up for a Big Brothers/Big Sisters-type program before Joe showed up. Needless to say, Matt and Andy's budding friendship with him, leaves Joe (who has been focusing more on work than on spending time with his brothers) feeling left out.
- Birthday Episode: "Joe at 21", which centers on Joe's 21st birthday, which he spends most of that evening at local bar Mickey's Checkered Flag, when Lloyd takes him out for a celebratory drink while the others throw a surprise birthday party for him.
- Camping Episode: "The Great Indoors" centers on Joe, Lloyd and Matt staging an indoor wilderness expedition in the Roman Customizing garage (after a planned camping trip by Andy's pioneers group had to be cancelled due to heavy rain) so Andy can earn a wilderness badge.
- Christmas Episode: "A Roman Holiday" deals primarily with Andy wanting Joe to stay in Philadelphia for Christmas, with Lloyd claiming that Santa Claus (whom he says he knows) will grant him his wish, in order to cheer up Andy. Sure enough, by the end of the episode, a freak snowstorm prevents Joe from making his flight to see his mom for the holiday, giving Andy what he wanted.
- Clark Kenting: Andy often disguised himself as various costumed characters (real or invented) during season one. "A Midsummer's Nightmare" had him be challenged by Claire to abstain from doing this, but secretly still pretending to be someone else unbeknownst to Claire (who nearly caught him still doing this on the sly twice); he even actually dressed Clark Kent-like to Matt's A Midsummer Night's Dream recital later in the episode.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Lloyd was prone to wild, rambling monologues and ludicrous misinterpretations of other people's statements. One such example from "The Driving Lesson":
Joe: Alright, we meet at the school at 1800 hours (6:00 p.m.).
Lloyd: That's over two months from now, but... I guess it's better to plan ahead.
- Cock Fight: In "Viva la Fraternite", Joe and Matt vie for the affections of Andy's 18-year-old French babysitter. Neither of them win, as Matt agrees to let Joe have her, although Joe did the same for Matt; then they come to find that their dream girl had a twin sister.
- Comically Missing the Point: Lloyd sometimes does this.
- Cool Loser: In spite of being handsome and intelligent, Matt was depicted as socially awkward and lovelorn.
- Deadpan Snarker: Joe and Lou, in practically every episode, usually trade barbs at one another. Lou often fires off a couple without a response by Joe.
- Dead Pet Conversation: In "Big Brotherly Love", Lloyd recalls a dream he had the night before in which his late goldfish (whom he overfed to death two weeks before) talked to him from... the other side, and revealed to him that there are no circles in heaven (if that's the case, what shape are the halos?).
- Disappeared Dad: Joe, Matt and Andy's father was killed in a racing accident at an undisclosed point within months prior to the timeline of the pilot. The fact he died doing his side job was referenced in "Remember", when Claire tries to convince Joe not to participate in an auto race (which Andy wanted to attend to make sure Joe would come out okay) and made a moving speech about watching her husband (Joe's dad) Mike die on the track.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The way Lloyd described his online chat date with "Lotus" in "The Comic Con" sounds a lot like a couple making love on the first date, with tech terms being used in place of the obvious references to this.
- Dom Com/Work Com
- Double Meaning Title: Brotherly Love refers to the most common nickname for Philadelphia (where the show is set) and, particularly appropriate for this series, refers to the relationship between the Roman brothers.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Joe's new shorter hairstyle is referenced a couple of times during season two. In fact as a joke present, in "Joe at 21", Lou decides to give Joe a paperweight of his hair, which was actually clippings from an Afghan dog collected from a pet groomer she knew.
- Gender-Blender Name: Louise Davis is usually referred to as "Lou", not a very common nickname for a female.
- Guys Are Slobs: Invoked by Joe, Lloyd and Andy in "One of the Guys". Irritated by Matt wanting to keep order in the house, he convinces Matt to start acting this way. The idea supposedly backfires when Matt takes it too seriously, leading the other guys to do the task of cleaning up the house, before Lou and Claire return from their spa vacation. Turns out that Matt was doing an experiment for his psychology assignment to convince Joe, Lloyd and Andy to step up by using reverse psychology.
- Halloween Episode: "Witchcraft" involves Joe taking Andy out trick-or-treating for Halloween and getting a reading from a fortune teller, who turns out to be Lou in disguise; Matt, at home, being harassed by trick-or-treaters (including two guys who clearly are too old to be trick-or-treating, who hang him on the front door clotheshanger and egg him) and Claire going to a Halloween party, dressed as gum stuck to a stool.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: Matt. Several episodes focus on his various crushes-of-the-week.
- Identical Stranger: Cleverly inverted in "The Comic Con", when Lloyd's online girlfriend Lotus meets a man who had plastic surgery to look like George Takei, who is played by Takei himself.
- Inherently Funny Words: Crrr-aps! Andy uses this repeatedly (in a drawn-out manner) during his, Joe and Lloyd's road trip to Atlantic City in "Easy Come, Easy Go", when he finds out that "crap" – which he knew only as a swear word, hence why he gave Joe a name scold when he heard him say it – is also the name of a dice game:
Andy: Boy, I can't wait 'til we get to Atlantic City and play some crrr-aps!
Joe (irritated): We know.
Andy: Yep, just walk up to the crrr-aps table, and shoot some crrr-aps! I love crr-aps! It's my favorite game. Crrr-aps!
Joe: Andy, you don't even know what it is.
Andy: I don't care. I just like saying it. Crr-aps!
Joe: You know, I don't think you're going to be seeing a lot of casino action, And. I think we're going to get to Atlantic City, go check into the hotel...
Andy: Get the shrimp buffet...
Joe: See the big Rip Taylor show...
Lloyd: Get the shrimp buffet...
Joe: ...and go to bed.
Andy: No crrr-aps? But, I love crr-aps. Crr-aps is my life! Craps is...!
Joe: Andy, will you stop saying "craps"?!
Andy: I have to. There's nothing funny about saying "slots".
(Joe gives Lloyd a puzzled look) Slots! It's a thinker.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As much as Joe can be overly macho and pretty merciless in his teasing of Matt, he is often shown to be a good guy in the end, and truly does love both his brothers.
- Last-Second Word Swap: Of the Curse Cut Short variety:
- Lloyd does this in "The Driving Lesson", when writing a letter addressed under the pseudonym "The Masked Avenger" (which he used a Secret Identity for his pranks against Mr. Hangarter in high school, although Hangarter caught wind he was the person in question):
Lloyd: "You never had a hunch who kept stealing your lunch. But, now I've gone past it you no-good old... driving teacher."
- Locked in a Room: Lloyd decides to lock Joe and Lou in the garage's storage room in "Bait and Switch", in the hopes that the two's constant bickering will lead to them falling in love. It doesn't work.
- Moebius Neighborhood: Even though the commercial/residential building where the Romans live and Roman Customizing is based could easily be part of an apartment building, most of the characters who visit either floor are apparently not neighbors to the Roman family.
- Monochrome Casting
- Neat Freak / Super OCD: Depending on the episode, Matt is one of these tropes. He veers into Super OCD territory in "Outbreak!", even covering himself with a scuba mask, gloves and a rain slicker to avoid catching the chicken pox when Andy contracts it. Other episodes depict him as being simply a Neat Freak, such as "One of the Guys" (in which he tricks Joe, Lloyd and Andy into cleaning up the house before Claire and Lou return from a spa trip by acting as if he has been "broken" into a slob after Joe tries to get him to relax and act like a guy); it's even been referenced that Matt likes to wash the dishes, and Claire buys him special gloves to wash them with.
- New Job Episode:
- The subplot of "Remember" centers on Matt auditioning and landing a gig as Mr. Lucky Burger, the mascot for the Lucky Burger restaurant. However, he is asked to keep his identity as the costumed character secret, which he fails to do when Andy stumbles upon and wears the burger head of his costume, and Joe and Lloyd find out he got the gig. He loses his job when he fails to do something else he was asked not to do, respond to anyone while in costume, when he tries to tell Claire he is forbidden from doing so.
- Matt gets a job as a record store clerk in "Stealing Beauty". Again, he loses his job, but not by his own accord, since his friend Kristen (who was working at the store beforehand) stashes the inventory she stole in Matt's backpack. Matt gets his job back – and avoids possible prosecution – when Kristen decides to admit responsibility, after being guilted by Joe the day before.
- No Indoor Voice: Joe cuts loose with the volume quite a lot.
- Philadelphia: The show is set in the city, although references to Philly area landmarks and sports teams are limited, with "The Liberty Bell Show" being the only episode to prominently mention a notable Philadelphia icon, the aforementioned Liberty Bell.
- Picked Last: Averted with Matt, according to this dialogue from "A Midsummer's Nightmare" when he seeks advice on seeking extracurricular activities, only because of one other person in his class:
Joe: How 'bout baseball, huh? Unless you're the guy who always gets picked last.
Matt: I've never been picked last. Thank God for "Shorty" Melman.
- Rise of Zitboy: Matt develops a pimple in "The Comic Con", just as he's about to ask out a girl who just got her braces removed out on a date to a comic book convention. Joe's "miracle cure" (which includes hot sauce "to fire up the blood") backfires and makes the zit bigger (though the audience doesn't see how bad it got), forcing Joe to help him by putting him in a Hellmonger costumenote to disguise his zit.
- Rouge Angles of Satin: Lloyd's Sweet Tooth causes this in "The Driving Lesson", when he steals the "D" from Matt's congratulatory cake (this was shortly after Matt revealed his teacher failed him on his driving test):
Matt: "Congratulations, Matt, our newest river"?
Lloyd: Long may you flow!
Joe (to Lloyd, after Matt leaves the garage office): What you won't do for a piece of cake.
- Secret Ingredient: As mentioned in "One of the Guys", Matt actually has a recipe for water of all things, which is not too dissimilar to the flavored waters that have become popular on the market in the years since. He boils the water first to get rid of any bacteria, and drops some vanilla into the water bottle, thus creating "Matt Water".
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Matt is the Sensitive Guy to Joe's Manly Man.
- Shout-Out: Several episodes make references to Joey Lawrence's previous series Series/Blossom – his most famous role in which he played Joey Russo.
- Silent Bob: Silent Jim, whom Matt and Kristen seem to understand quite well despite him only responding with grunts, and note that in the moments he does speak, it's only to say something that actually profound.
- Standardized Sitcom Housing: Subverted, since the building where the Roman family's home is located is on the top floor of a residential/commercial building, with Roman Customizing being based on the bottom floor.
- Surprise Party: "Joe at 21" has Claire, Lou, Matt and Andy throw a surprise party for Joe for his 21st birthday (which he ends up coming late to after getting drunk during his and Lloyd's celebratory outing to a bar), with most of the guests being the women in his Little Black Book thanks to a blunder by Matt.
Lou: Leave it to Joe Roman to have the last little black book in America.
- Take That: In "Big Brotherly Love", Jack states that his ex-wife dumped him for a limo driver. This is an indirect reference to Tom Arnold (who played Jack in the episode)'s 1994 divorce from Roseanne Barr, who subsequently married her one-time security guard Ben Thomas in 1995 and were married until 2002.
- The Drifter: Mike "Big Mike" Roman, Sr. in "Big Mike". Joe never really got to know him that well growing up, and wasn't really interested in spending time with him at first (the opposite reaction of Matt, Andy and especially Lou and Lloyd), but got to get to know him better during an outing to a diner Mike, Sr. spends time at whenever he's in town. "Big Mike" decides to skip town the day before Andy's baseball game, in order to transport a load of avocados to Boston.
- Three Lines Some Waiting: Joe always was a focus (if not the primary one) of the A-plot, with Lou, Lloyd and/or Claire involved or having that plot centering on one of them in certain episodes. Matt usually was the focus of the B-plot, while Andy had a C-plot in every episode, with Claire usually involved in either one.
- Title-Only Opening: Used in the pilot episode only, the full sequence (featuring Joe, Matt and Andy hanging around in a junkyard) featuring the complete version of the Joey Lawrence-performed theme song "No Matter Where You Are" is heard in every other episode.
- Too Much Information: From the episode "Mother's Day", when Joe meets his mother's new new-age beau Lucien:
Joe: You know what. Actually, I don't really know much about you, Lucien, other than you're married my mom and you're a pretty fast worker.
Lucien: Oh, the baby! Oh, Joe, the conception was so beautiful. It was a full moon, and then...
Joe: What are you— what are you talk...! I don't want to hear this! Oh, my...!
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Joe ventures into this territory at times.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Joe and Lou.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The epilogue of "The Driving Lesson" describes Joe, Matt, Lloyd, Lou and Andy (as well as his alter-ego Randy)'s punishments in the manner of the iconic end-of-episode legal fate roll call sequence from Dragnet.
- Wrench Wench: Lou Davis is this, as the only woman of the three mechanics at Roman Customizing. She references in "The Driving Lesson" that she was inspired to study automotive science because of her driving teacher Mr. Hangarter's misogynistic comments:
Lou: Oh, oh, Mr. Hangarter? I hate him!
Matt: You know him?
Lou (imitating Mr. Hangarter): "Ms. Davis, perhaps you should take your pretty little curls to a home economics class, because it's obvious you'll never learn anything about cars". (normal voice): Right then and there, I decided to learn everything I possibly could about automotive science.
Claire: Way to go, Lou. You showed him!
Lou: Well, I suppose. Of course, I was early acceptance pre-law. Right now, I could be in a Mercedes instead of under one.
- You Look Familiar: Tom Kenny (who would become known for voicing SpongeBob SquarePants a few years after the series ended) first played the burger restaurant manager who auditioned Matt for the Mr. Lucky Burger gig in "Remember" in season one, and then played Joe's new stepdad Lucien in "Mother's Day" the following season.