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Series / Brothers & Sisters

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The Walker Clan

Brothers & Sisters is a drama series that ran for five seasons from 2006 to 2011.

The series details the lives of the Walker family. Patriarch William Walker runs his family's fruit business, Ojai Foods, with one son and daughter and his brother-in-law. Another daughter works in politics, one son is a vet from Afghanistan with an addiction problem, and the other is a gay attorney. William's wife, Nora, is the heart of the family. When William dies, his family not only loses their patriarch, but finds themselves suddenly privy to secrets they wish had never been exposed...

The series was produced by ABC and can be extremely funny. The show could switch from high drama to high comedy within the same episode, or even the same scene.

The Walker family is detailed here.

This show contains examples of:

  • Addiction Displacement: Justin uses different substitutes, most notably sex, to no avail. He does eventually move past this.
  • Always Camp: Scotty was a cater-waiter before becoming a chef; but averted with Kevin, who's a lawyer, and Saul, an accountant.
  • Be All My Sins Remembered: Justin, when he goes to dinner at the home of a soldier whose life he saved.
  • Berserk Button: Most of the family members have one; Sarah's seems to be whether she can balance work and family; Kitty's is the new baby; once upon a time Nora's was Justin and the war; etc.
  • Blonde Republican Sex Kitten:
    • Kitty. The former would have been a Blonde Republican Sex Cat, had her pregnancy not miscarried.
    • A male, non-blonde version in Rob Lowe's character. Rob Lowe was initially a guest star — the ratings went up so much that he became a regular.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Rebecca and Justin used to believe each other were blood siblings, but then found out otherwise. Justin still felt somewhat uncomfortable on the subject)
  • But Not Too Gay: Averted with Kevin (and Scotty), who makes out as much as his siblings. Played straight with Saul, who rarely has an onscreen kiss.
  • Buy Them Off: Standard operating procedure for William Walker
  • Cat Fight: Or a rather bizarre attempt at one, considering both participants are in their late 50s.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Justin's medical knowledge comes in handy when Julia goes into premature labor with the twins.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Kitty becomes pregnant while she and Robert are dating, but not married, and he is running for the Republican presidential nomination. The problem this could pose with voters is defused when Kitty loses the baby.
  • Daddy DNA Test: Early on Kevin wanted one done to prove that Rebecca really was William's daughter. Everyone treated this as extremely rude and unreasonable. This was ironic because a season later she went and got one herself that proved that she was in fact the daughter of Holly's ex-boyfriend David.
  • Dinner and a Show: Family dinners are not generally pleasant and subdued affairs. So prevalent, it's been lampshaded since season one.
    Robert: Are you kidding me, it's been dinner theatre or the circus.
  • Dirty Business: Every Walker, but especially the ones in politics or the family business.
  • Double In-Law Marriage: Might very well have happened had Kevin not broken up with Robert's brother Jason.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Hoo, boy. Walker family dinners are massive arguments waiting to happen. Just see half the tropes on this page.
  • Easy Amnesia: Holly in Season 5, though to be fair, it's a long-term plot point and her memory seems to come and go.
  • Embarrassing Slide: A Home Porn Movie among a collection of clips for a birthday video.
  • Evil Matriarch: Fortunately, of the rarely seen variety, because Nora and Saul's mother Ida is a terrifying force of mayhem...
    Kevin: I mean, you know she's nice to us, but I forget with Mom, she's Joan Crawford.
  • Family Business: Ojai Foods. When an investment decision went badly, Holly Harper stepped in to bail the company out in return for a controlling interest. Then she got cleaned out via a Ponzi scheme and the company eventually closed down. Then they found water in a property William Walker bought. Then they had the pile-up.
  • Geeky Turn-On: Kitty and Robert have sex in their office after a vigorous policy discussion.
  • Hanukkah Episode: The episode "Light the Lights" is about Paige trying to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas.
  • Happy Marriage Charade: Nora and William. She knew that he was cheating, but went into willful denial when he swore he would end (that particular) affair. He presented himself as the picture of the morally upright, traditionalist husband and father, while keeping up a mistress on the side long enough for it to border on bigamy, as well as cheating on both his wife and mistress by having affairs with other women. Kitty and Justin take it especially hard when they learn the truth.
  • Hollywood Law: Necessary to a number of storylines, but most especially in the case of Holly. As California is a community property state, Nora could have technically challenged William's leaving Holly some of his assets in court given that she was William's legal wife and Holly was a mistress.
  • Home Porn Movie: Sarah and her then-husband. Hilarity Ensues.
  • How We Got Here: One episode opens with Nora, Sarah and Rebecca entering a hotel lift, their hair dishevelled. It's implied they've all had sex. None of them had. Nora passed out drunk while kissing Roger Grant, Sarah merely had a lot of alcoholic drinks and Rebecca spent the night alone in the honeymoon suite after Justin went to help an Addicts Anonymous sponsee.
    • The St. Valentine episode of season 1 also opened with the end; Kitty in bed with McCallister, Justin with Tyler, Kevin with Scotty, all calling each other and Sarah, who didn't have sex, and finally Nora, who ends up being calling from... jail.
  • In Vino Veritas: Well, Ojai Foods did make wine.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In one episode, Sarah tells Nora about her ex-husband remarrying his first wife and going on a month-long honeymoon to Europe with her kids. Nora responds that she stopped watching those trashy soap operas in 1982.
  • Late Coming Out: Saul, born 11 August 1938, spent most of his life in the closet. His nephew Kevin is a Straight Gay; they discuss the different realities of their lives that affected their coming out.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Given the fecundity of their parents, the Walker kids seem to have an unusual amount of fertility problems, Sarah being the sole exception.
    • Tommy and his wife Julia try to have a baby, but it ultimately turns out that Tommy is sterile. Julia eventually conceives using sperm donated by Kevin and Justin. But when she gives birth to twins, one dies and the other nearly does as well.
    • Kitty is likewise unable to conceive with Robert, even after undergoing fertility treatments. They end up adopting a baby boy. After Robert's death, and despite having undergone treatment for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, Kitty later becomes pregnant by her much younger boyfriend Seth. The ultimate fate of this pregnancy is unknown, as the series was Cut Short.
    • Kevin and Scotty hire a friend to be a surrogate. They start running into problems like having difficulty with conception and eventual miscarriage. They then give up on that idea and adopt a 9-year-old girl, with whom they are happy. Later, they learn that their surrogate was lying about the miscarriage and took the baby for herself. So they get the baby back, but then their adopted daughter's homophobic brother who abandoned her wants to take her away from them. He fails.
    • While never directly stated onscreen, evidence suggests that Justin may also be sterile or have defective sperm. Despite years of casual sex, often influenced by drugs and alcohol, with many women, he has seemingly never fathered any children. The fact that Tommy and Julia's daughter Elizabeth is confirmed to be Kevin's biological child seems to support this. Justin later fathers a child to Rebecca, but she miscarries.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Rebecca—twice, believe it or not—and then Ryan. Finally, Sarah as well.
  • Meaningful Name: Well, she is known as "Kitty".
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Justin in one episode; others have played this briefly for laughs, most notoriously the "Mom is a Lesbian" fakeout in early Season 5.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Justin and Rebecca
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: "You're my favorite brother." "Only brother."
  • Personal Effects Reveal: The photograph of Ryan.
  • Put on a Bus:
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: In real life, the actors playing Rebecca and Justin used to date, and apparently had so much sexual chemistry onscreen that Brother–Sister Incest was heavily implied. The writers eventually gave up and put in a Retcon that Rebecca was not a Walker to deal with this issue.
    • Part of the reason we don't see Tommy anymore is because Balthazar Getty would show up late to tapings, or not at all, making life difficult for the rest of the cast.
  • Running Gag: Any Walker family get-together must involve at least one stand-up argument.
  • Sibling Triangle: Justin and Tommy's relationship with Lena.
    • And then Justin vs. Ryan over Rebecca. An interesting variation since Rebecca was once thought to be Justin's sibling.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss:
    • Justin and Rebecca have a big argument and then proceed to have sex with each other for the first time.
    • In a variation, Robert and Kitty once had sex in their office after a policy discussion.
  • Straight Gay:
    • Saul, who doesn't understand why men, even gay men, would have any interest in baby showers or other female-oriented activities.
    • Kevin, Jason, and Chad also qualify. Scotty eventually makes it too.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Kevin's boyfriend, Jason; the actor left to film a new show, so the producers brought back Season One boyfriend, Scotty, albeit a little more mature and subdued, making him more like the character he was replacing.
  • Switch to English: Sarah is in France and attempts to ask for directions from a Frenchman. After much struggling, the Frenchman casually reveals he can speak English and the rest of their conversations stays in English.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Rebecca's the daughter of Holly and William, no wait, the daughter of Holly and David; now there's a Ryan who's the son of William and some random dead woman; plus, Tommy's daughter Elizabeth is really Kevin's daughter because he donated sperm...confused yet?
  • Token Minority: Robert and Kitty's adopted baby Evan is African-American. Also, Kevin and Scotty's adopted daughter Olivia, who is a Latina.
  • Truth-Telling Session: Frequently, sometimes as much as twice an episode.
  • World of Snark: Virtually every character is a Deadpan Snarker, and Snark-to-Snark Combat is a standard feature of many conversations, especially over meals.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Rebecca pulls one of these after she and Joe kiss in order to stay in the Walkers' good graces. She does eventually tell the truth, but only to ease her own conscience, as the damage is already done.