Sisters (TV series)

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Sisters
FormatDrama
Created byRon Cowen
Daniel Lipman
StarringSwoosie Kurtz
Sela Ward
Patricia Kalember
Julianne Phillips
Sheila Kelley
Elizabeth Hoffman
Country of originUSA
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes127
Production
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Cowlip Productions
Lorimar Television (1991-1993)
Warner Bros. Television (1993-1996)
Broadcast
Original channelNBC
Original runMay 11, 1991 – May 4, 1996
 
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Sisters
FormatDrama
Created byRon Cowen
Daniel Lipman
StarringSwoosie Kurtz
Sela Ward
Patricia Kalember
Julianne Phillips
Sheila Kelley
Elizabeth Hoffman
Country of originUSA
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes127
Production
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Cowlip Productions
Lorimar Television (1991-1993)
Warner Bros. Television (1993-1996)
Broadcast
Original channelNBC
Original runMay 11, 1991 – May 4, 1996

Sisters is an Emmy Award winning television drama which aired on NBC for six seasons, from 1991 to 1996. The series was created by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman, who also created the Showtime series Queer as Folk and wrote the acclaimed Emmy and Peabody Award winning drama An Early Frost, also for NBC. The show debuted on May 11, 1991 for a seven-episode test run and was subsequently renewed for the 1991 fall schedule. Sisters was the first primetime network television series to focus specifically on the lives of women, and the issues relating to them. It was also one of the first 'demographic' hits because of its strong female viewership. Other series about women would eventually follow, but at the time it was groundbreaking.

Contents

Synopsis

Sisters focused on four very different sisters living in Winnetka, Illinois. Their recently deceased father, Thomas Reed, a doctor, had been absent and a workaholic, while their long-suffering mother, Beatrice, turned to alcoholism to cope with his neglect and affairs. Having always wanted sons, their father had called the girls by male versions of their full names: Alexandra was called Alex; Theodora, Teddy; Georgiana, Georgie; and Francesca, Frankie.

For the first two seasons, each episode began with the sisters' weekly ritual of chatting in a steam bath together.[1][2] During both the spring 1991 run and the full 1991–92 season, the opening credits ran in front of a steamed window as the camera slowly began to reveal the interior of the sauna. During the credits, the women were heard in the background chatting.

Sisters used a more traditional opening sequence beginning with the 1992–93 season: glossy, black-and-white filmed scenes of the sisters engaging in various activities during both their childhood and adult years. Only the girls' hands and arms were seen as they played jacks, signed a check, played the piano, typed on the computer, or in the case of another adulthood scene, had their spouse unzip their dress in a moment of intimacy. In the final shot the sisters' hands pile on top of each other's as Sela Ward's Teddy can be heard saying "I love you guys". Initially, the only soundtrack used for the opening was the sounds of the characters, but in the fall of 1993 a piano solo composed by John Debney was added as theme music. The sounds of the girls were still audible to an extent. This version ran for the final three years of Sisters.

Most episodes of the show featured a number of flashbacks, in which the characters would interact with or simply observe their younger selves (played by younger actresses).[2] Although the show was a drama with soap opera-style storylines,[2] the show was also quirky and offbeat in the style of other shows at the time like Northern Exposure.

Season One

One year after her husband's death, Beatrice has reluctantly sold the family home to move into a seniors' condominium building. Depressed, Beatrice relapses on alcohol and is arrested for driving under the influence. Teddy comes back into town from California to discover her ex-husband Mitch is dating her younger sister Frankie. Alex believes her husband Wade is cheating on her, but instead discovers he is a crossdresser. Bea goes to court for her DUI charge; the judge on her case, Truman Ventner, is an acquaintance of hers who also happens to live in her building. Teddy pursues Mitch and although he resists her, they eventually spend a night together; shortly afterward Mitch and Frankie (who is unaware of the encounter) announce their engagement and plan a quick wedding. Teddy breaks up their wedding drunk with a shotgun; Frankie decides not to reschedule the wedding and she and Mitch stop seeing each other. Ashamed of how her behavior is affecting the family and especially her daughter Cat, Teddy leaves Cat with Mitch and announces she will return to California alone. Georgie's son Evan is diagnosed with leukemia, and Teddy decides to stay in Winnetka.

Season Two

Georgie attempts to balance her needs with Evan's during his treatment. Alex discovers Wade has been cheating on her for six months with a former patient, and she and Wade divorce. Reed (Ashley Judd) reacts by rebelling and dropping out of school. Frankie makes a financial investment in Mitch's fish market; while filing paperwork at City Hall, they decide to elope. Teddy discovers she is pregnant with Mitch's baby following their earlier brief encounter; she tells the family that she became pregnant after a one-night stand. Mitch eventually finds out the truth, but Frankie never does. Truman and Beatrice begin a relationship. Teddy begins a job doing window dressing at a fashion boutique, then suffers a miscarriage. Alex begins dating her plumber, Victor, while Wade tries to win her back. Teddy begins her clothing design career when the boutique owner notices a blouse she painted by hand. Georgie runs for the school board. Frankie discovers she cannot carry a child; following a failed adoption, she asks Georgie to be a surrogate mother for her baby.

Season Three

Alex plans an elaborate ceremony and reception at her house for Truman and Beatrice's wedding, but they decide to elope; Reed and Kirby (Paul Rudd) are married there instead. Georgie gives birth to Frankie's son Thomas George after a car accident; Georgie has difficulty seeing him as her sister's child. Alex and Teddy feud due to Alex's jealousy of Teddy's newfound success as a clothing designer. Simon Bolt (Mark Frankel) invests in Teddy's fashion design company but later sells it to a Texan investor without consulting Teddy. Teddy walks away from her company when the new owner does not respect her artistic vision. A Hollywood producer makes a TV movie of the family's surrogacy story. Alex is diagnosed with breast cancer; her standup comedy about her cancer experience leads her to a new job as a talk show host. Frankie and Mitch divorce and spar over custody of Thomas George.

Season Four

Cat is attacked and raped by a college acquaintance; James Falconer (George Clooney) is assigned to investigate the case. He is able to help Cat remember her attacker, Kyle, but the prosecutor cannot prove the case; Kyle is set free, but is shot and killed on the courthouse steps by one of his previous victims. Frankie quits her executive job and buys the Sweet Sixteen diner. Teddy and Falconer run into each other at an AA meeting and begin dating. Trevor rebels and is sent to boarding school, then runs away from the school and disappears. Georgie falls into a depression about her perceived failure as a parent and considers suicide, but decides against it and asks for help. Truman is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and initially refuses to tell Beatrice. The stress of Trevor's disappearance leads Georgie and John to separate. Alex meets Big Al (Robert Klein) when he agrees to sponsor her talk show; she initially dislikes him but they soon begin dating. A fifth sister, Charlotte Bennett (Jo Anderson), is introduced. Charlotte is a cancer patient who needs a bone marrow donation from a relative. Although none of the sisters are a match, she receives the bone marrow from an unrelated donor. Keeping the customary manner in which her half-sisters go by male versions of their full names, Charley is brought into the family and welcomed, primarily through Frankie's effort and determination. Alex and Big Al marry; on their wedding night he is arrested for tax evasion. Georgie and John reunite after realizing they cannot control what happens to Trevor. Reed returns for a visit and gives birth to Halsey. Trevor finally returns from the streets when Winnetka is hit by a tornado, and Falconer and Teddy marry on a plane that is caught in the storm.

Season Five

Falconer is killed. His murder was ordered by a criminal he was about to testify against in court. Georgie begins seeing a new therapist, Dr. Caspian (Daniel Gerroll), who manipulates her into believing she had been molested by her father. Frankie inherits a boxer, Lucky (John Wesley Shipp), from a former client, and eventually begins a relationship with him. A viewer with terminal cancer asks Alex to take care of her daughter, Roxie (Kathryn Zaremba); Alex wants to adopt the little girl, but her father returns and they move away together. Unable to cope with Falconer's death, Teddy relapses with alcohol. Big Al is released from prison early and runs for mayor. Teddy shows up drunk to his election night victory party and hits Evan on his bicycle with her car; she leaves to enter rehab. Truman gives Alex a videotaped message asking her to help him end his life once his Alzheimer's has advanced. Dr. Caspian and Georgie begin an affair during her therapy sessions; Georgie leaves John, believing Dr. Caspian loves her, but Dr. Caspian ignores her and claims she has misinterpreted their "work" together. Georgie realizes she has been manipulated, but has no evidence to get the psychological board to revoke his license. Charley begins therapy with Dr. Caspian and eventually manages to record him behaving inappropriately toward her during their sessions. Norma fires Alex from her talk show for talking about AIDS against the network's wishes. Frankie accidentally creates Cowlotta, a large pink cow character that children love, and is asked to move to Japan to manage the character. Alex helps Truman end his life; she is arrested, but avoids prison when a terminally ill judge recuses himself from her case. Teddy has an affair with Daniel Albright (Gregory Harrison), the man who had Falconer killed, in an attempt to gather evidence that will send him to jail. With Lucky's help, she succeeds and Albright is arrested. Alex and Norma run a pledge drive for the local PBS station and are asked to create a new version of Alex's talk show. Bea is depressed following Truman's death; Charley offers her a job working as a receptionist in her free clinic. Teddy meets Jack Chambers (Philip Casnoff), the man who received Falconer's transplanted heart, and strikes up a brief relationship with him.

Season Six

Now divorced from John, Georgie goes to graduate school in psychology. She begins a relationship with Brian (Joe Flanigan), a 24-year-old student in her classes who was very standoffish to her at first. Teddy and Cat are carjacked; Cat meets police officer Billy Griffin (Eric Close) when reporting the crime. Later, Teddy is accidentally shot in the head with the gun she bought for protection. She falls into a coma, but Alex convinces brilliant neurosurgeon Dr. Gabriel Sorenson (Stephen Collins) to operate and save her life. Teddy eventually begins a relationship with Sorenson, and Cat decides to enter the police academy. Charley (now played by Sheila Kelley) becomes a foster parent to Jesse (Sean Nelson), the son of a woman who died at her free clinic. She also begins dating her colleague Dr. Wes Hayes (Michael Whaley), though he is initially resistant to an interracial relationship. Reed (now played by Noelle Parker) returns to town after divorcing Kirby and losing custody of her daughter Halsey, and ends up running a high-priced call-girl ring. Alex turns crucial evidence over to the police and Reed is sentenced to community service. Teddy and Gabe decide to marry, but their wedding is interrupted when a heart donor is found for Big Al; Teddy and Gabe finally marry at the hospital just before Big Al is taken into surgery. Charley decides to adopt Jesse, and plans to quickly marry Wes because two parents make a more appealing adoptive family; however, Charley eventually realizes Jesse should instead be adopted by the family that had already adopted his brother. Charlie and Wes marry anyway. Alex's talk show is canceled again and she decides to take an extended trip to help flooding victims in Tennessee. In the final episode, Georgie's college thesis about her sisters deeply angers Alex and Charley, though Teddy finds it amusing. The sisters must put aside their differences when Beatrice has a major stroke. Frankie returns from Japan just before Beatrice dies and clashes with Charley; later, however, she announces she wants to move back home to Winnetka. Georgie sees John at Bea's memorial service and realizes she misses him; shortly afterward, she breaks up with Brian. The sisters scatter their mother's ashes on the rosebushes she named after them. Teddy announces she is pregnant with a daughter, who she plans to name Beatrice Rose. Georgie and John discuss reconciling and share an embrace. Finally, Alex assumes the role of family matriarch.

Cast

Regular cast

Supporting cast

Recurring cast

Ratings

SeasonU.S. ratingsNetworkRank
11991N/ANBCN/A
21991-9210.45 millionNBC#55
31992-9310.11 millionNBC#56
41993-9410.11 millionNBC#52
51994-959.0 millionNBC#75
61995-966.8 millionNBC#103

Reception

The series received eight Emmy Award nominations over the course of its run, winning once in 1994 for Sela Ward as Best Lead Actress. Swoosie Kurtz was also nominated twice in the Lead Actress category in 1993 and 1994.[3]

References

Notes

External links