***Disclaimer: Spoilers Ahead***
The October 24 episode of ABC’s Brothers & Sisters ended with the biggest storyline disappointment since Justin and Rebecca became romantic with each other at the end of Season Two – a situation that finally ended with the unfortunate departure of the wonderful Emily Van Camp.
The relationship between the high-strung Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys) and the level-headed Scotty Wandell (Luke McFarlane) has been a highlight of the series. From their wedding at the end of the second season to unexpected career opportunities in the third season and last season’s attempts to have a baby, the two lovingly stood by each other through every complication and insecurity.
That rock-solid relationship looks to be crumbling with last week’s revelation of an infidelity on the part of Scotty. It was explained that Kevin had become distant in the wake of being let go as his Senator brother-in-law’s chief of staff and finding himself at a career crossroads with no idea as to what to do next. At the same time, the restaurant for which Scotty worked as a chef closed so he decided to open up his own establishment. On top of all that, the surrogate mis-carried the baby the couple so desperately wanted to have.
Though well-motivated on paper given what Kevin and Scotty have been going through, such territory is far from uncharted in prime-time television – the fact that they are a gay couple notwithstanding. Showtime’s Queer as Folk explored this not once, but twice…with the same couple in separate seasons. Additionally, the entire foundation of the series is built upon a long-standing affair between the deceased family patriarch and Rebecca’s mother.
From a plotting perspective, Scotty’s admission is disappointing in both its presentation and the couple it involves. The reveal occurred in the final scene of that week’s episode just as Kevin was ready to get their relationship back on track and attempt a different approach to becoming fathers. Because of the one-year jump between last season and this season, it makes sense that neither viewers nor Kevin saw this coming. Still, the Scotty cheated storyline comes across as more “let’s have this happen to them” than “this is what happens to them”.
What is more unfortunate is that the infidelity happened upon a couple that had been presented to viewers for three seasons as positive and loving even if not without its problems. The fact that such a great couple happened to be gay was even better. Other than the recurring Lee and Bob on lead-in Desperate Housewives as well as newcomers Cameron and Mitchell on Modern Family, gay couples are a prime-time rarity.It is for this reason that any such union must be creatively protected – particularly in this political climate where gay marriage is constantly being threatened at the hands of those in power looking after their own interests without regard to an individual’s right to live as they so choose.
While it is likely that Kevin and Scotty will weather this storm as they have every other one, it is disappointing that one of a scant handful of gay couples so well-portrayed on television can’t also be seen as faithful to each other without such an unnecessary complication when there are plenty of other highly-relatable and compelling dramatic stories to tell that doesn’t reek of “we don’t know what else to do with them so we’ll break them up”.
The characters deserve better. The actors deserve better. The audience needs to see better.