'Brothers & Sisters' Monica Breen Talks Season Enders & Beyond
Break ups, a big reveal, a wedding, a coming-out and a corporate shake up. Brothers & Sisters has been on fire this month, returning after the strike with four end-of-season episodes that seem to be in fast-forward. A chat with "the powers that be" behind the show seemed to be in order, so I called up show runner Monica Breen, who was awesome enough to reflect with me on what's gone down and what we have to look forward to...
This Sunday, the last of your four post-strike episodes will air. You've covered so much story in these last few weeks. Is this everything you originally planned to fit into the season had there been no strike?
Well, we loved where [we had planned to] end the second year because it really gave us propulsive energy for next season. And so, rather than keeping stories slower paced, we decided to put some stories aside for third season, and what we wanted to build to, we basically just moved ahead. Some days I watch the episodes and I'm like, oh my God, so much happened! But it makes for a fun viewing experience. It's building to a big end.
Speaking of big endings, you know I have to ask you about Rebecca's paternity. I spoke with executive producer Greg Berlanti a little over a year ago and he assured me that Rebecca was most definitely a Walker. When did the decision to change that come?
We started talking about it a little later. It was one of those stories we just kept coming back to.
Were you influenced by Emily Van Camp and Dave Annable's on-screen chemistry?
Well, you can't deny that that is there. But did that motivate the decision? Not as much [as you might think]. Part of the challenge on this show is to keep all these relationships constantly changing, balancing all the different ways that they come and go into each other's lives, and this just seemed interesting as a story for us. We knew it was risky. We were all terrified.
There has been some opposition to the decision among the fans. Do you go on the internet to keep up with their reactions?
(Laughs) My husband has demanded that I stop it, because I do! I go online and then I weep silently. I respect their anger or what they would consider a betrayal, but there was no intention of betraying them. I think about all the moments from my favorite shows like Buffy and The Wire when I didn't like something and then they recouped it. I just hope people give us the same chance. The way this story plays out is going to be true to these two people who really have been best friends for a long time and who really care about each other. And hopefully [the viewers] love the other characters and stick around to see what goes on with them. I think [this Sunday's episode] is the best we've ever done. I've never cried during a rough cut. But I actually had to sit in my office and calm down because I was so moved.
Besides the changes in Rebecca and Justin's relationship, what can we expect this weekend?
We do take time to relish Kevin and Scotty's commitment. And Nora does something really lovely at the wedding. I can't even describe it. It's just a really beautiful moment for the Walker family, despite all the chaos of the business crashing and the [paternity results]. There is this joy to the end, too. We won't just see the family's shock over Rebecca not being a Walker. We move to all these lovely moments that are just as important.
Will Kitty and Robert have any resolution on the fertility front?
Yes. Kitty and Robert come to a decision about what their next step is after In-Vitro. It's been an interesting process because so many of us on staff have been through experiences like this, and the different decisions made are always very personal. We thought a lot about why Kitty and Robert want children, and that leads them to think about alternative options.
How about Saul? He's finally come out to Kevin, and he's at a crossroads in his life. What can we expect from him, going forward?
We're taking that story slow, because we're talking about someone who has lived a lie for almost 70 years. He's still got steps to take. He has to fully come to terms with it and start re-thinking his life.
With the shake up at Ojai, Sarah is kicking Steven Weber's character to the curb, no?
Yes, Graham has served his purpose. Sarah started off the season in such a bad way with the end of her marriage, and he was the rebound guy. They care about each other, but she wasn't going into it looking for a serious relationship. They're both grown-ups and understand what's happening. For Sarah, I think the biggest sadness is, wow I let my guard down and start to enjoy myself and my world comes crashing down.
We're going to give her a fun season three.
And what about Tommy and Julia? We haven't seen much from them lately, but they do seem to be working their marriage out.
Yes, they are trying to work it out. Tommy's role in the family will change in season three. He'll have increasingly difficult decisions to make, which the family will react to in typical Walker fashion. And Julia will not only become his person to talk to, but also his defender in a way. We will start to see a new side of them.
I like that. It sounds like Tommy is beginning to fill his father's shoes, and Julia will sort of take on the same role with him as Nora did with William.
Yes. That's really interesting. I just wrote an episode and that is a really good way to think about it. They are an interesting couple and certainly they are the most traditional, which is something we're trying to explore in season three. What does being a "traditional" couple mean nowadays? How does that play out in the year 2008?