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Saturday, February 19, 2011

TV Show Response: Brothers and Sisters

So I've been obsessively watching the TV Show Brothers and Sisters. We watch TV off of Netflix, so it's commercial-free and I can watch an entire season of a show in a few days if I'm motivated.

I had seen the first season of Brothers and Sisters when it first came out, and I really enjoyed it then, but hadn't seen it since then. Now in the last couple weeks I've watched (nearly) the first three seasons (I watched the first season over again), and clearly I am really enjoying it!

The show features Sally Field as Nora Walker, a Mother of five grown children. In the first episode, her husband of 40 years, William Walker, dies of a heart attack unexpectedly. As the show goes on, Nora and her five children start to learn that William kept many secrets from them. As they learn the truth, it throws their life into upheaval.

The five kids are: Sarah, a 35ish work-aholic mother of two in a struggling marriage; Kitty (Calista Flockheart), a 33ish republican pundit struggling to find the right guy for her; Tommy, a 30ish married guy working at his father's company; Kevin, 28ish gay, single, lawyer; and Justin, a 25ish single Afganistan Vet with a drug problem.

The show follows all the kids and Nora as their lives, significant others, families, and careers go through many changes, and through it all, they are the consummate American Family--struggling to keep their Father's business and legacy alive without compromising their ideals, struggling to resolve their feelings about their Father in the light of difficult truths, and talking, arguing, loving, and supporting each other the whole time.

One thing I really love about the show is their portrayal of Kevin's, the gay son's, life. I LOVE that they show him in relationships, being physically intimate, 100% accepted by his family, etc. I love to see a really healthy and open view on homosexuality in an ABC prime-time television show! Usually I think gay men are portrayed extremely superficially (like on Ugly Betty, for instance), and usually not openly kissing and having intimate relationships. But why not? They show straight people kissing on prime time and it shouldn't be any different for gay people.

I have to admit that I want to BE Nora Walker, which brings up some interesting emotions inside me. I've always wanted a big family and I am naturally nurturing like Nora. She is like a mother hen, tending her nest with these elaborate family dinners. But one theme in the show is Nora finding herself, for the first time, as a woman separate from her Father AND from her husband. She has never had to define herself as something more than a wife and mother. But as she struggles with the truth about her husband, she is forced to examine herself as well.

I think one reason I want to be her is for the same reason--I'm not sure who I am, either. I am not confident in myself as a single person, as a career person . . . I am very comfortable as a wife and mother but who else am I? So watching the show can sometimes be unsettling. Even though I want to be Nora, I also find myself being JEALOUS of Sarah. CFO of her company, intelligent, well-respected, independent. In terms of myself as separate from anyone else, I have never been happier than when I was teaching. I never felt more . . . confident in who I was.

Due in a large part to having ADD, I have had a very hard time succeeding on the long term in challenging situations. I do well overall but I have trouble paying attention to details, making rash or impulsive decisions, and following through--sometimes these little/medium things can add up to a big failure. There are very few accomplishments in my life that are not tied to specific failures--my self-efficacy is badly wounded. As a teacher, for the first time, I was building that back up, making a different in kids lives, making good writers out of them and good people, too.

But in the end I am home because I want to be home. I could not imagine leaving James with someone else. And there is something growing with him--a confidence and pride in my ability as a mother. If I can succeed in that, perhaps there are other successes on my horizon.

Oh, am I off topic? I highly recommend Brothers and Sisters! ;-)


Marilyn said...

ok, you need to watch EVERWOOD! what the heck! jen has the first season on dvd here at school so I am giving it to you!!!!

Reading this entry got me thinking. I have several friends that are always like - "i can't wait to have kids! I just want to get married and have kids!". Most of the time, it makes me want to throw up. I always want to be like WHAT? You don't want anything more in life? You don't want to explore on your own? For a long time, I just couldn't accept that people didn't want to travel or have a "fulfilling job" or just be able to pick up and go if they want. But I am trying really hard to realize that for many people, being a stay at home mom or dad IS the fulfilling job they want, and obviously, a very difficult and full time job. I think it's always hard to see the other perspective but I am trying hard to see it....

love you B! I am sure you will get back to teaching someday =)

Katelynne said...

Interesting! I will have to add this to my queue. I'm a SAHM, but plan on getting my master's here in a year or so and then teaching online classes for a community college.

haha to the obsessively watching shows...the beauty of netflix. I am currently on a LOST streak ;-)


Alyssa said...

I've never seen the show, but it sounds interesting. I've heard that Parenthood is also good (but I've never seen it either).

As for the career vs. SAHM thing, it all comes down to fulfillment. Some women love staying at home, others don't. As long as you are happy with your choice, that's all that matters. And, hey, it's possible to do both sometime down the road!

justadrienne said...

I agree Alyssa--I know staying at home isn't for everyone, and honestly I don't THINK it's enough on the long term for me, but I'm glad to be able to do it right now.

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