Sibs aired from September 1991 until May 1992 on ABC.
The relationship between three sisters , one happily married and two miserably single, was explored in this character comedy. Nora ( Marsha Mason) was the oldest and most stable of the "sibs," a successful accounting executive who provided a shoulder for neurotic Audie ( Margaret Colin), a real estate agent in a collapsing market,, and vulnerable younger sister Lily ( Jami Gertz), who was just dumped by her heel of a boyfriend, to whine on. Nora's wisecracking school-teacher husband Howie ( Alex Rocco) put up with it all, though not gladly. Warren ( Dan Castellaneta) was Nora's ex-boss, an egotistical wimp who had inherited his uncle's firm, promply fired Nora, then discovered that all his best customers went with her when she set up her own firm. He later came crawling to her for a job.
A Review from The New York Times
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: October 9, 1991
The New York siblings in "Sibs" number three. Nora (Marsha Mason) is the oldest, married to a schoolteacher, Howie (Alex Rocco). Next down the line is Audie (Margaret Colin), single, a recovering alcoholic and struggling to sell real estate in a soft market. The youngest, at least 25 years behind Nora, is 20-ish Lilly (Jami Gertz), whose artist boyfriend has fled to Germany alone just after she learned the names of all the sausages.
Nora's boss turns up dead, mugged on the subway. "Ah," Howie says, "natural causes." She decides to open her own business-management firm, taking the old customers with her, which enrages Warren, the boss's officious nephew. Warren is played with a fine madness ("I know I am not quite myself -- or anybody else -- right now") by Dan Castellaneta, the voice behind Homer Simpson. Warren now wants to work for Nora. She's hesitant: "Warren, you're abrasive and mean, you torture those around you and, well, we're going another way."
Nora also has to cope with her sisters. Lilly pines for the lost lover, her letters urging him to remember the nights at the beach in handcuffs. Audie is a one-woman disaster area, managing in a single day to have her car impounded for traffic violations, be knocked to the sidewalk by a passing bicycle and, battered, be thrown off a city bus because she lacks the proper change. Lilly seriously needs help. Finally, when Nora offers to lend her money, Lilly resents her attitude: "You might try to be a little less suffocating." The same could be said about "Sibs." The pain beneath the humor is a touch too penetrating. A laugh track just adds insult to injury.
An Article from The New York Times
TV VIEW; Sisters? Only on Television
By CARYN JAMES
Published: October 27, 1991
The youngest of the four siblings on "Sisters" is nicknamed Stinkerbell. The middle sister on "Sibs" is Audie because her baby sister couldn't pronounce Audrey. I might have thought this was just too cute, but I have a "sta" of my own.
We came to call each other sta as girls, not because we couldn't talk, but because of television. Some long-forgotten comic did a routine about parochial schools, with students waving their hands at the Sister and yelling, "Sta! Sta! Call on me!" This was goofy enough to stick as a family joke, so Stinkerbell and Audie actually make sense. Otherwise, television hasn't affected my idea of sisterhood, and the current flurry of sister shows isn't likely to change that.
"Sisters" (NBC, Saturday at 10 P.M.) is an intelligent, appealing comedy-drama, the best of the group and the only ratings success. "Sibs" (ABC, Wednesday at 9:30 P.M.) is a predictable sitcom, which views sibling rivalry as a weekly competition to see which sister can whine the most. And "Good and Evil" (ABC, Wednesday at 10:30 P.M.) is a lame soap-opera parody about two sisters, one virtuous, one vile.
But these shows share a formula that has less to do with families than with stories about people stranded in lifeboats: throw together characters with dramatically different ages, personalities and social status. Never mind that this often makes as much sense as twin sisters of different parents.
Films, books and plays can ignore this ploy. From Chekhov's "Three Sisters" to Brian Friel's current "Dancing at Lughnasa," the sisters' differences shade their personalities while their similarities are based on a powerful shared past. But on television, the hope for a long run and endless storylines leads viewers to suspect that a few baby girls must have been left on the doorstep.
The heroines of "Sisters" were at least named by the same people, who gave them all boys' names. Alex (Swoosie Kurtz) is an elegant society woman married to a rich plastic surgeon. Teddy (Sela Ward) is a penniless rebel who hitchhiked cross-country with her teen-age daughter and now lives with Georgie (Patricia Kalember), a middle-class working mother. Frankie (Julianne Phillips) is a yuppie businesswoman, at least 15 years younger than Alex. Real sisters do turn out to be different, but rarely with such made-for-television symmetry. What's more, these sisters all live in the same town, and despite careers, husbands and children, traipse in and out of each other's houses endlessly.
With all its improbabilities, the show works anyway, partly because it displays a redeeming wit about its own melodrama. When Alex's husband recently left her for a younger woman, she took to her huge bed and zapped through television soap operas that threw back previous stories from "Sisters." There was the time Alex's husband was found wearing women's lingerie; there was the continuing plot in which Teddy's former husband marries Frankie. The soaps didn't mention that one of Georgie's sons has leukemia, that their mother was arrested for drunken driving, that Teddy is a recovering alcoholic pregnant with her former husband and present brother-in-law's child. "My life is a soap opera," Alex said. Obviously.
This richly acted series also offers a strong sense of sibling loyalties, rivalries and shared memories. The characters frequently flash back to their younger selves. When the adult Alex jumps into a fountain to prove she can be as free-spirited as Teddy, it helps to have seen the adolescent sisters at that same fountain, with Alex the staid sister even then. "Sisters" may raise the question of which one was left on the doorstep, but it is based on a convincing notion of sisterhood: all will be forgiven, nothing will be forgotten, the past still influences the present.
"Sibs" is just as contrived about the sisters' differences in personality and social status, but its relationships are much less believable. Nora (Marsha Mason) is a matron who has suddenly become a rich businesswoman. Audie, played by Margaret Colin, is a recovering alcoholic and a real-estate agent who has suddenly become broke. (Shouldn't she be Teddy's sister?) And Lily, played with winning exuberance by Jami Gertz, is the much younger sibling, a ditz with no discernible career. She just broke up with her boyfriend and now lives with Nora and her husband, Howie (Alex Rocco). Howie has the only true-to-life lines on "Sibs." He finds his wife crying and asks, "It's not about one of your stupid sisters again, is it?"
These sisters are not intellectual giants. Though Howie feels insecure about Nora's wealth, she buys him a car, and it takes all three sisters to deliver his present. Privacy and common sense mean nothing in this household, where the sisters share no past beyond last week's script.
Still, "Sibs" is more watchable than "Good and Evil." Its idea of mocking the differences between sisters is potentially hilarious, with Teri Garr as the evil Denise, Margaret Whitton as the humane Genevieve and Marian Seldes as their mother, a ruthless cosmetics tycoon. The show could have been a sharp parody of "Sisters," complete with the old falling-for-the-same-man plot. But "Good and Evil" is undermined by threadbare scripts. How many times can Genevieve try to save mankind while Denise plots against Mom?
I was warned about "Good and Evil." "Don't bother, it's awful," said my sta, who also likes "Sisters" and can't stand "Sibs." We'd never make it as TV sisters.
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