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'Brothers & Sisters': Will Kitty's cancer boost the show?

October 5, 2009 |  7:24 am
B&S_kitty Yes, they went there. Taking a cue from fellow ABC drama "Grey's Anatomy," "Brothers & Sisters" gave one of its lead characters cancer.

Last night, Kitty got the news that she has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymph nodes. It was brought on quite suddenly, and we were thankfully spared from anything overly dramatic such as hallucinations of past lovers. Like "Grey's," it seems the C-card was pulled to not only give Kitty the renewed perspective and purpose to either save or scrap her current situation, but to give the show's fourth season a much-needed boost.

Kitty and Robert's marriage is heading down the drain, and it's becoming increasingly more difficult to root for them as a couple. Nora really hasn't much to do; Tommy's gone; Sarah's still away; and frankly, Justin's and Rebecca's story just hasn't been doing it for me lately. Scotty and Kevin have baby issues that they'll continue to deal with, and Ryan is back with what looks like another shady secret, but all that is hardly enough to keep one from changing the channel.

The show needs something because unlike "Grey's," "Brothers & Sisters" doesn't have heart-pumping emergency room action to counterbalance the emotional drama. It must instead rely on the Walker family's humor and comedic timing, which once upon a time served as the show's driving force. The aggravating arguments and tense scenes were always equally balanced with one of the character's funny foibles or the siblings' quirky way of communicating. That comedic magic has been lacking for most of the third season — I don't quite remember the last time I was charmed by an episode, though I'm sure it involved Sarah —so the fourth desperately needs to lighten things up. Will Kitty getting cancer help achieve that? I'm not sure.

Something so serious as a cancer story line can come off as either heart-tugging or downright depressing, and I hope the show aims for the former. First, Rachel Griffiths needs to come back from maternity leave and inject some spirit back into the show. Then we need to see the Walkers bond again. The focus has been so on their individual dramas that it'll be nice to witness the siblings share moments together that don't involve migraine-inducing arguments (we also have a reason for Nora to revisit her marijuana habit!). Justin's and Rebecca's impending wedding also has the potential for comedy, and even Kitty's treatment can be dealt with grace and humor.

Now that the show has led Kitty down an irreversible path, it has nowhere else to go but up. Bring the humor back, "Brothers & Sisters," and make us believe in the Walkers again.

Time for your thoughts, readers. What was your reaction to Kitty's diagnosis? Do you think the show needs to bring back the funny? Feel free to discuss in the comments.

— Enid Portuguez

Photo: Calista Flockhart as Kitty McAllister. Credit: ABC