Brothers & Sisters – “Double Negative”

“Double Negative”

April 27th, 2008

I have absolutely nothing against Justin Walker and Rebecca Harper. I have nothing against Dave Annable or Emily VanCamp, two attractive and charistmatic young actors who in real life make a charming couple. I don’t have anything against romance, having myself been a shipper in a past life (Oh, who am I kidding, a present life).

And yet, I have all sorts of issues with the forbidden, quasi-incestual love affair between these two characters, characters I like stuck in a storyline that just feels wrong. I know it’s been inevitable, with rumors and storylines leading us to this point, but the way it has been handled has made its problems even more apparent. These two actors have chemistry, but the writers are forcing their characters to overcome a fairly substantial hurdle (You know, being related) through a series of contrived hoops and over-exaggerated characterizations.

If this reveal had been done a few months into their friendship, I might buy it – as it stands, it’s just a bit too awkward and forced for me to accept being slapped in the face with it over and over again. “Double Negative” has all sorts of other storylines, so let’s talk about those before my rant drivels on any further.

It’s an episode of confrontational discussions this time around, with people facing off over trust, relationships, ambition, and of course the aforementioned quasi-incest. The first storyline is simple: Scotty cuts his hand, Scotty doesn’t have health insurance, Kevin decides that convincing him to become his domestic partner is the practical thing, Scotty doesn’t want his “wedding” to be perfunctory as opposed to meaningful, Kevin wrinkles his forehead and shuns commitment (For now).

It’s clear where this is going (Mainly because, you know, McFarlane foreshadowed it in his recent coming-out article in the Globe and Mail), and it’s typical Kevin up to this point – he’s amazingly the most inept Walker in relationships, and that is saying something. Considering how the spoilers have this one ending, though, we should see some new shades to his character.

We saw few new shades to Sarah, although one could argue that her relative bitchiness as of late is certainly unfortunate. I am actually really frustrated by this because at the end of the episode she was given a high horse: with the deal she wanted to nix (For no reason other than indescribable instinct as far as I can reckon) falling through, she can say that she was right along not to trust Saul and Graham and that none of this is her fault.

This isn’t to say that this isn’t true, but it’s so damn absolving that I think it makes the character out to be far more angelic than she actually is. There was no reason other than blind instinct for her to reject that deal (I’d trust the other two over her any day of the week, and I presume considering how unqualified she often feels that she might know the same thing), so are we supposed to empathize with her being in a position where the company is crumbling and her mother is (rightly) pissed off about it?

While I’m glad that the business is returning to being dramatic for the right reasons (Interoffice relationships are a little cliched, this at least has some weight), I do think that it just never quite clicked leading up to it. The same could probably also be said for the other major storyline this week, Kitty and McAllister having the same discussion they’ve had time and time again, and that has been dealt with by the show on numerous occasions. Kitty? Wants babies. McAllister? Wants politics, babies, Kitty and a pony. In that order.

I don’t really buy Kitty questioning his ambition at this stage, and the decision to reject Taylor was done in a bit too cutesy a fashion. I think that Taylor was just too much of a condescending jerk for me to buy it: like Sarah, Kitty and Robert can’t have actual tension between them and their relationship, but rather tension in this instance gleefully wiped away by Taylor being so conservative and so arrogant with Kitty (Between his opinionless wife and his mudraking politics, he’s every negative political stereotype rolled into one). The funny this is that he was right, but that doesn’t matter: what matters is that Kitty and Robert get to be happy, at the expense of having a real discussion on this issue.

And really, everything just feels really forced this time around: perhaps it’s them rushing to create drama post-strike (Not surprising, a lot of shows are facing this problem), but Justin and Rebecca’s storyline in particular feels pushed onto the viewers. Whether it was Justin’s various pep talks, his discussion with his brothers, his strange reaction to her lie, the early morning coffee, the sensual ankle contact of the surfing lesson…if there is a single viewer who needed the preview for next week to figure out where this is going, can they please raise their hand and go to an eye doctor immediately?

Because it’s going to happen: and while it may be romantic in some strange way, and they have undeniable chemistry, in the end it is just a bit too creepy for me. Forbidden love is just too much of a cliche for this show to be indulging this quickly and with so little subtlety, and I just don’t want it not to go away (I don’t really get the title, to be honest – Maybe Kitty’s negative embryos?).

Cultural Observations

  • I really wish that we’d gotten a full season so we could see what they planned to do with Saul as a character, but nice to finally see Ron Rifkin get some material: he went into some Arvin Sloane territory with his speech to Sarah, and I (as always) love it.
  • Nora took a back seat this week, realizing that she is content with her life as it is: this note will be particularly sad next week when her life implodes like the backyard during Nora’s preparation for Kevin’s newfound desire for pool parties after coming out.
  • Sarah talking about cancer children depressing her in front of a cancer patient’s mother? Seriously, I love Rachel Griffiths, but this character needs a slap in the face as opposed to a drink.

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