There’s nothing like a scene with a newborn baby to get the tears flowing. Some sort of special magic is worked when a TV series puts a baby in the arms of a great actor and lets their reactions speak for themselves. There’s a simple but powerful kind of joy in those moments that’s unlike anything else on television.
Brothers and Sisters was a show about family, so naturally you’d expect it to have at least one great “baby moment.” And boy did it ever. The show was famous for a few things: its absurdly talented cast, its flair for the melodramatic, and the way the former often made the latter more palatable than it ever should have been. When Robert meets his adopted son, Evan, for the first time, it’s a perfect example of what this show was all about. After having a heart attack on the way to the hospital for Evan’s birth, Robert finally gets to hold his newborn son while still hooked up to machines and breathing with the help of oxygen tubes. It could have been cheesy and over-the-top, but the combined powers of Rob Lowe and Calista Flockhart turned it into something deeply moving and almost impossibly genuine.
Flockhart is so warm and natural in this scene as both a mother and a wife, but this scene really belongs to Lowe. The overwhelming love and awe in his eyes is incredible. The way his voice cracks when he says, “I forgot how little newborns are,” is one of the greatest acting moments I can remember from a show filled with superb actors. This scene is so unashamedly emotional and joyful, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. There’s so much honesty in Lowe’s performance, a kind of naked vulnerability that is a rare thing to find, even among the best actors in the medium.
I love happy tears, and this is one of my favorite scenes to watch when I want to experience them. Sometimes I forget how good Brothers and Sisters could be when it was at its best—and this scene is a fantastic reminder.