1 9 8 4 – 1 9 8 9 (USA)
115 x 30 minute episodes
A groundbreaking US sitcom which dealt in a real way with homosexuality, a million miles from John Inman’s mincing TV persona in Are You Being Served?. Dealing as it did with such areas as AIDS, gay-bashing and male kissing,
Brothers was way too hot a topic for the major US networks to handle – ABC and NBC turned it down flat – so the series went out on the Showtime cable channel, fast becoming one of the prime places to see material that stepped out of the mainstream. Indeed, Brothers was the first sitcom made specifically for cable.
Set in New York (although filmed in Hollywood), the series focused on the three Waters brothers – Lou (eldest), Joe (middle) and Cliff (youngest).
Lou (Brandon Maggart) is a construction worker and something of a father figure to his siblings; Joe (Robert Walden, the likeable but pushy newspaper reporter Paul Rossi in Lou Grant) is a former professional American football hero who has retired and opened his own restaurant; and Cliff (Paul Regina) . . . well, Cliff is gay.
This was revealed in dramatic fashion in the series’ opening episode when he ‘came out’ on the eve of his planned wedding.
Because Cliff looks and acts ‘straight’ this makes the news particularly hard for his brothers to accept. Indeed, this inability of Lou and Joe to come to terms with the fact that their baby brother was not one of them, but, rather “one of them”, formed the basis for much of the comedy. (And yes, apart from the ‘issues’ the series was also funny.)
Acceptance was an especially tough proposition for Lou, the very macho, very hetero ex-sportsman, who also had trouble coming to terms with Cliff’s visiting effeminate friend Donald (Philip Charles MacKenzie).
Other regularly featured characters were Sam (Mary Ann Pascal), who married Joe midway through the series, Penny Waters (Hallie Todd), Joe’s daughter (from his first marriage); and Kelly (Robin Riker), a waitress at Joe’s restaurant.
Philip Charles MacKenzie
Samantha “Sam’ Waters
Mary Ann Pascal