After months of behind-the-scenes turmoil on Brothers & Sisters, creator Jon Robin Baitz was recently removed from his day-to-day duties on the show. Now, in a two-part essay for the Huffington Post, he's written eloquently — but bitterly — about how he and ABC disagreed on the direction the show should take.
It's pretty fascinating reading (but long, so be warned — here's a link to part one and another to part two). Baitz takes shots at ABC executives, TV journalists, and Hollywood itself in the essays, saying he wanted B&S to focus on people in middle age and take on issues of race, sexuality, and politics, but that's not how things worked out. Here are some of the excerpts that stood out to me:
- On watching B&S from the sidelines: "I can no longer argue for tone and can only watch as the demographic demands that have turned America into an ageist and youth-obsessed nation drives the storylines younger and younger, whiter and whiter, and with less and less reflection of the real America, which is made up, to the sorrow of the research departments, of people over 35 years of age and of many ethnicities and incomes."
For more, including what Baitz wishes the show could have been, just
- On his vision for the show: "A show that could simply hold on the aging and real face of Sally Field, and reflect the sorrow and rage there, and reflect the cold and funny sexuality of Patty Wettig's Holly, the perfect reconstruction of the LA mistress. A show that would hold on the eyes of Ron Rifkin, and reflect the wisdom, joyous childishness and the melancholy. A show that could explore the lives of the low-income workers whose well-being depended on the fortunes of the family business, Ojai Foods. A show where we could have followed the youngest, prodigal son to Iraq . . . A show that allowed Calista Flockhart's character to be actually truly political — still a commentator, fully articulate and unashamedly b*tchy about what she knows and thinks she knows, and to be wrong as often as she is right. . . . A show that would go even further in dealing with Kevin Walker's internalized homophobia and his fear of contact with others. . . . A show that followed Rob Lowe's black charm down the rabbit hole of American politics and revealed the ugliness that lives there. That followed Balthazar Getty in his father's amoral American male footsteps, and allowed that actor's virtues to shine more fully. . . . When I signed on, that is what I thought I was making. I was naive, totally naive."
- On what went right: "I am proud of the acceptance of sexuality in the show, and of the love the Walkers have for one another. I am proud that Kevin Walker is a viable portrait of a f***ed-up, flawed, scared and articulate man, whose sexuality is only one facet of a very complex persona. I'm proud of the way we put what is funny right next to that which is not. We come closest to that balance, in my opinion, in dealing with the reality of Rachel Griffith's life and loves, and the struggle of women to be mothers and have jobs, and a love life all at the same time."
Well, that certainly puts a different perspective on B&S. What do you think about Baitz's points?