Brothers & Sisters: Season 1, Episode 1

Patriarchy (24 Sep. 2006)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama
7.3
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Kitty Walker returns home to California after having been estranged from her mother for three years; she also has a job offer and a marriage proposal to consider. Meanwhile, William Walker ... See full summary »

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Title: Patriarchy (24 Sep 2006)

Patriarchy (24 Sep 2006) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Noah Guare
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Kitty Walker returns home to California after having been estranged from her mother for three years; she also has a job offer and a marriage proposal to consider. Meanwhile, William Walker has brought his daughter Sarah into the family business, where she soon discovers some glaring financial discrepancies that could undermine the Walker family's way of life. Written by Alex/Peter Brandt Nielsen

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24 September 2006 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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[first lines]
Kitty Walker: I am not the person you think I am, that's what you people can't seem to understand. I am not a bitch. I am not aggressively plotting to make our mother feel bad.
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"We're here all together"
11 January 2009 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

As long as there's television, there will always be at least one major drama each year that centers around a "typical" American family. Brothers & Sisters, created by Jon Robin Baitz (the writer of the Al Pacino-starring People I Know), is one of the most recent additions to the group, and one of the finest, too. The critical acclaim it has been met with is all due to Baitz's care in crafting every single character that's part of the show's big ensemble cast, and the most valid piece of evidence is the pilot episode, aptly named Patriarchy.

The patriarch is William Walker (Tom Skerritt), a successful businessman who's still happily married to his wife of several decades, Nora (Sally Field). They have five children together: Sarah (Rachel Griffiths), who works in the family business alongside younger brother Tommy (Balthazar Getty); Kitty (Calista Flockhart), a Republican journalist who's been running her own radio show and is now being offered a chance to do television; Kevin (Matthew Rhys), a terrific (and openly gay) lawyer; and Justin (Dave Annable), currently unemployed after returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Completing the picture are Sarah's husband Joe (John Pyper-Ferguson) and their two children, Tommy's wife Julia (Sarah Jane Morris) and Nora's brother Saul Holden (Ron Rifkin), who help William with the business as well.

The story begins with everyone reuniting to celebrate Kitty's birthday. This is a huge opportunity for her to reconcile with her mother, from whom she's been estranged for three years because of the huge differences between them (their conflicting political views being just the most obvious). She comes to L.A. from New York with her boyfriend Jonathan (Matthew Settle), fearing the evening might go badly at some point. In a way, it does, as the dinner quickly turns into the Walker tradition of exchanging gossip, be it Kitty's childhood antics, Sarah's decision to be in couples therapy or other embarrassing details. Furthermore, William surprises everyone by promoting Sarah, a decision that effectively kick-starts one of the show's key plot points. And then there's that tragedy waiting around the corner...

After the Sopranos and the Fishers (from Six Feet Under), the Walkers are the new face of American family values (dramatically, that is: the Simpsons and the Bluths from Arrested Development take care of that in the comedy department). The comparison with Alan Ball's funeral tale is almost inevitable due to similarities in the plot of the first episode and the presence of Rachel Griffiths (the best of the lot), who famously played Brenda Chenowith in the HBO masterpiece. In fact, a large portion of the cast is comprised of people who are known for other TV shows: the easiest to spot is Flockhart, whose Kitty does remind of Ally McBeal on occasion, but also Rifkin and Getty, who appeared in Alias (which also featured guest appearances by Patricia Wettig, whose role will be clearer later on), and of course Sally Field (marvelous), in her first regular part after her acclaimed, Emmy-winning recurring role in ER. Coincidentally, all the aforementioned serials had a fairly large cast depending on the season (ER especially), almost as if the actors were a family, so it's only fair that cast members from those programs came together in Brothers & Sisters, where a real family is concerned.

Based on this episode alone, Brothers & Sisters looked set to make a notable difference in the realm of network television. As the rest of the season (not to mention the Golden Globe and Emmy recognition) proves, it sure did.


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