ABC's Mother's Day Gift to Viewers: A Same-Sex 'Wedding'

Kevin and Scotty will exchange vows on the season finale of ABC's Brothers and Sisters Sunday night.  And the actor who plays “Kevin,” Matthew Rhys, told USA Today, “It's all very progressive, evolved and about time.”

In a story about the atypical TV wedding, USA Today's reporter William Kleck mentioned that the show is “liberal leaning” but “does attempt to recognize those who oppose gay marriage by introducing Scotty's parents, who skip the ceremony.  That volatile relationship is expected to be explored in Season 3.”

Kleck also mentioned that another character's children will witness the gay commitment ceremony and the actress who plays the mom hopes viewers won't “have a problem with that.”

Obviously the producers and actors in Brothers and Sisters know they are treading on sensitive turf.  Actually they're stomping on it with this storyline, which seeks to normalize controversial behavior. One Brothers and Sisters character (portrayed by Rob Lowe) is a Republican senator opposed to gay marriage.  He is married to Calista Flockhart's character, “Kitty,” a conservative former talk show host-turned campaign politico.  USA Today's write up said that “Kitty” officiates the same-sex commitment ceremony while Rob Lowe's character “ends up playing a key role.”  Apparently ABC's writers felt that the show's conservative voices had to “grow.”

Flockhart told USA Today she was “quite pleased” to be a part of the “milestone” episode.

According to Kleck the producers of Brothers and Sisters are considering adding a family to the “Kevin and Scotty” union.  Monica Breen, the executive producer, said, “They will be a family.  Kevin deserves a stable relationship in the same way Kitty, Sarah and the others deserve it.”  Rhys, the actor who plays “Kevin,” said he'd like his character “to go down the adoption route.”

Entertainment TV has long been a vehicle to bring controversial cultural topics into the living rooms of American families:  Maude's abortion aired in 1972 before Roe v. Wade entered the cultural lexicon, Murphy Brown opted to have a baby out of wedlock, and homosexuality came into homes weekly via Will and Grace.  Weddings – or commitment ceremonies – for gay main characters are the next step.  Which almost makes the kiss shared between two male characters, one a soldier, on Thursday's Grey's Anatomy (another ABC series) no big deal.

Maybe “Brothers and Sisters” is the theme of the week for ABC.  Earlier this week, on the news side of programming, the network's Good Morning America showcased a story on incest and the “taboo” love that a half-brother and sister share. (For more on that story, click here.) Edgy, non-traditional relationships and sexuality seem to be in the air at ABC these days.  GMA has recently dealt with transgenderism, a pregnant “man,” and the “gay gene.”

In choosing to end the second season with this gay-commitment ceremony, Brothers and Sisters sends a clear signal that it will commit to exploring this story line in the coming season.  Of course that season will debut about the time the presidential campaign is in full swing.  It remains to be seen how “Kevin and Scotty's” fictional union will be used to comment on the gay rights stances of the real-life candidates seeking to lead the United States for the next four years. 


Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.