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Lee (Kevin Rahm, left) and Renee (Vanessa Williams) share a Halloween moment from Desperate Housewives’ seventh season.

ABC continues to redefine family with ‘Brothers & Sisters’ and ‘Desperate Housewives’
by Nancy Ford

The ABC television network has long enjoyed the stellar reputation of being an industry leader in terms of supporting LGBT equality and presenting gay men and lesbians in credible, understandable, and realistic scenarios. As far back as 1977, the network introduced not only openly gay, but also likeable characters, as portrayed by a youthful Billy Crystal on the progressive sitcom Soap.

Later, the network outraged sponsors and conservative viewers by daring to show a gay couple (David Marshall Grant and Peter Frechette) in bed in its popular series thirtysomething. Though censors forbade the men to touch, even innocuously, television history was made under those covers in 1989.

Family affairs: Brothers & Sisters’ Sarah (Rachel Griffith (left), Nora (Sally Field).

Perhaps explaining some of ABC’s more recent Brothers & Sisters’ über-inclusive story line, the show experienced an abundance of thirtysomething personnel cross-over: thirtysomething’s Grant frequently wrote for Brothers & Sisters, which Ken Olin often co-directed. Olin is married to former thirtysomething star, Patricia Wetting, who plays Brothers & Sisters’ Holly, who eventually married David Caplan, played by Olin. Full circle.

Amid those backstage connections, Brothers & Sisters: The Fifth and Final Season ties up various loose plot ends for our favorite inclusively dysfunctional family, the Walkers: gay brother Kevin (Matthew Rhys) and his partner, Scottie (Luke Macfarlane), became parents (twice over), HIV-positive gay Uncle Saul (Ron Rifkin) found love with longtime boyfriend Jonathan (Richard Chamberlain), and radio talk-show anchor Nora (Sally Field) remained the best beyond-PFLAG mom in recorded history. We miss them already.

Brothers & Sisters’ husbands Kevin and Scottie (Matthew Rhys and Luke Macfarlane) discuss Walker gossip in the final season of the dramedy.

Nearly as inclusive as Brothers & Sisters, but with a whole lot more goofiness thrown in, is Desperate Housewives: The Complete Seventh Season, also available this month.

In it, former Internet soft-core porn star Susan Delfino (Teri Hatcher) has a brand-new, life-saving kidney, donated courtesy of neighborhood murderer Paul Young’s (Mark Moses) second wife who committed suicide. So what can those wacky women of Wisteria Lane, including spot-on gay neighbor/honorary housewife Lee (Kevin Rahm), possibly find to complain about now? Perhaps the dead body of Gaby’s (Eva Longoria) former childhood tormentor the gang stuffed in Bree’s (Marcia Cross) antique trunk?

Both DVDs from Buena Vista Home Entertainment (bvhe.com).

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