“Brothers & Sisters” on ABC is Canceled on Friday, May 13, 2011 After 5 Seasons

“Brothers and Sisters,” the soapy drama that ran for 5 seasons on ABC has been put out of its misery. The cancellation of the series was announced on the heels of the finale episode that had Rachel Griffiths’ character of Sarah marrying Luc Laurent (Giles Romani), her French boyfriend, “Walker Down the Aisle”. During that same finale episode, which ended with Sally Fields quoting George Eliot (“It’s never too late to become what we want to be,”) potential plot lines were set in motion for (yet another) gay wedding, this time between Saul and Jonathan, as portrayed by Ron Rifkin and Richard Chamberlain, rather than Scotty and Kevin’s nuptials, and for the entire Beau Bridges sub-plot clan to (potentially) enter the fray. There was also concern that Kitty (Calista Flockhart) was pregnant with her young boyfriend’s child.

Most faithful viewers were aware of the downward spiral of a once ground-breaking show. Sally Field won an Emmy for her portrayal of Nora Walker, dowager widow leader of the Walker clan, and the plot lines were good, at first. As Mandi Bierly on EW.com “PopWatch” wrote, “You were no longer the show we fell in love with.”

One of the show’s stars, British-born Matthew Rhys, who played Kevin Walker, told the New York Post, “I personally wouldn’t want to be a writer if I had to stretch it over another season.” Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys) was part of the unfortunate guinea pig episode (Season 5, Episode 16, “Home Is Where the Fort Is,” March 6, 2011). When nearly an entire episode is devoted to a gay couple turning their home into a guinea pig fort to please a would-be adoptive daughter, you know (a) the writing team has lost touch with reality and (b) the writing team is scraping the bottom of the plot barrel. “Home is Where the Fort Is” was the end of plausible, realistic, groundbreaking, dramatic credibility for many.

Only 6 episodes aired after Guinea Pig-Gate, culminating in “Walker Down the Aisle” (Sarah and Luke’s nuptials) on May 8, 2011, Season 5, Episode 22.

For those looking for other good shows to watch, recommendations would include “Justified,” “The Walking Dead,” “Shameless” (on Showtime), “The Big C” (on Showtime), “Nurse Jackie” (on Showtime), and the stalwart crew of “Dexter” (on Showtime).

If you don’t have “Showtime,” regular channels have some fine sitcoms in shows such as “Modern Family,” “The Office,” “Outsourced,” “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Community,” “Fringe,” and—closest in tone to “Brothers and Sisters”—that old standby, “Desperate Housewives.”

My biggest concern: does the cancellation of “Brothers & Sisters” (as well as a host of daytime soaps) signal the demise of scripted shows in favor of junky “Jersey Shores” reality-based TV?

If so, I’ll even take Guinea Pig-Gate over the alternative of unscripted reality TV.