thirtysomething

Season 1 Episode 16

Accounts Receivable

0
Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Mar 01, 1988 on ABC
8.9
out of 10
User Rating
12 votes
1

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT
A rocky relationship between Michael and his brother Brad is further strained when Michael learns the family business is almost bankrupt.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

Wednesday
No results found.
Thursday
No results found.
Friday
No results found.
SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Michael's father dies and he must return to Chicago for the funeral and to deal with the fall out with his brother.

    9.2
    Michael's father is dead. We didn't get a death scene. Some might argue that the episode before this, where his father arrives to announce he has cancer was an hour long death scene, but there is no formal goodbye with a dead man. Michael gets a call at work and starts crying. That's how it works in real life. You're having a good hearted argument with a coworker and the phone rings. You don't always get to lean over someone as they take their last breath and pass on. You rarely do. So Elliot is sorry, Michael looks grief stricken, end of scene.

    Next scene, Michael is in full on responsible funeral mode. People have gathered at the house, Hope is cooking and Michael returns from the airport, without his brother. His brother Brad didn't arrive when he was expected. The great thing about this scene is, that it's funny. Hope is trying to tell Michael the funeral home forgot to pick up his father's body without saying the word "body" and when he finally drags it from her, Michael and Gary just crack up, because even in the worst of grief, there truly is always a little laughter, even inappropriate, morbid laughter! :) The thing to remember about this episode & the whole show is that Michael is a big brother. He's overprotective, he's overly critical, as Hope would succinctly sum up, (sarcastically!) "He ALWAYS knows what's best for his children". This characteristic would pop up in relation to every single character through the show and when his ACTUAL little brother shows up, it's like a small clue into this. Michael's father suddenly left his mother during Michael's teenage years. Michael has this little brother he had to protect and take care of. And Michael felt he had to take care of his mother also. Michael is a nurturer and it gets to be too much sometimes, because he truly believes that no one knows how to manage their own lives and that he ALWAYS has to step in. And his perceptions of people are very very hard to change. He knows what's going on, he knows peoples motivations, he knows what is best and it doesn't matter that it's your life, you will not convince him otherwise. And this can make him a very strong person but a lot of times, it makes him a royal pain!

    So enter Brad. (Bradley Joel Steadman, as their mother would call him!) Brad is younger than Michael, he's shorter than Michael, and he's the family screw up. We all have one. They are getting along okay, for the most part. But they aren't quite as successful as their older brother. They aren't quite as popular in school. They aren't quite as together and they spend their whole lives trying to catch up. The first story told about Brad is a story about how he wrecked a car, got robbed, got stoned and fell asleep, so when a cop showed up about the robbery there's Brad, passed out w/ pot on his lap. Michael tells this story while laughing because it's funny and because his little brother is a screw up who can't even make it to the airport when he says he will. So Brad shows up, late as usual. Michael is clearly perturbed, but willing to "forgive." I love that when Melissa sees Brad, she smiles and says "Hi Kid!" before hugging him. Melissa is younger than Michael & he'll never let her forget it. But Brad, it appears, is younger than Melissa, so she seems to have relished having SOMEONE younger in her family!

    People come & go, people say goodnight, Hope says goodnight, so it's Brad & Michael, sitting in the living room, drinking. Making toasts. Brad wishes he's had a bar mitzvahs like Michael, he says. Michael shrugs so why didn't he. Brad says that the family was falling apart, Michael was away at school and it was more like "Oh Brad you're still here..." while his mom sang Camelot in her room alone. Setting up the whole idea of "Michael feels guilty, Brad is jealous..." Michael tells Brad he has to help him with the funeral stuff. Brad agrees reluctantly and at the end, basically rubs his face in Michael's shirt, like he's trying to clear his head, but it's a small gesture that makes me believe these guys are brothers.

    The next morning, Michael is in the kitchen. Hope very reluctantly tells him Brad is gone, something about business. Michael is livid. He's been taking care of everything (which I think he secretly enjoys) and as usual, he can't count on Brad. Brad shows up and while Michael is still annoyed, they manage to put it aside and go and look for a casket, which again, is a humorous moment. The family travels to Chicago for the funeral. Can I say, I LOVE Michael's mom! I love Barbara Barrie (aka Mrs. Barney Miller, aka the Double Trouble twins aunt, aka Suddenly Susan's Grandma, aka the karate lady in Company on Broadway) in ANYTHING! but I really love Michael's mom because besides Gary's mom, she seems the least screwed up of all the thirtysomething parents. She seems truly without neurosis, and without pretense. She's happy to see her family, she's sad about the occasion, but she's not the widow. And this wasn't really dealt with directly. No time maybe. No reason maybe, because it's really more about the brothers. But I love Barbara Barrie. (Did I mention that already?) Michael is executor of the will, and I'm not sure how happy Brad is about that. Brad has spent the last few years running Leo Steadman's clothing company. And Michael is going to be looking into all the finances and details and Brad clearly resents that. Brad mentions that he wants to say a few words at the funeral. Michael asks if Brad has checked w/ Leo's widow, Linda, because she already asked Michael to say something. Brad doesn't think he has to ask and Michael points out that he does because she's the widow and their mom agrees with Michael. This really rankles Brad, hearing his mom agree. Brad then turns on Michael, pushing him, demanding to know what he was going to say. Michael shoots back that he's going to say something like he was a good man, always punctual and he kept his shoes shined Basically telling Brad to let it go. Michael is in shock at what he finds when he goes to the company. Large balloon loans coming due, almost no revenue. He had no idea it was this bad. He meets with his father's old coworkers, employees, advisor's and it's the same thing over and over. The company is really gone and needs to be sold off. When Leo and Barbara Steadman split up, Michael was away at school. Either early college, or boarding school. But Brad was there. He lived through it more than Michael. And I felt that Michael felt guilty about that also, while Brad felt this desperate need to connect to his father, and felt the best way to do that was to run his business. Michael had his own daddy issues, but what Brad sees is that Michael moved away, he got married, he had a child, he opened his own company and bought his own house. So Michael really is more like Leo Steadman in those ways and it kills Brad that taking over the company for his dad, probably wasn't enough. In the end, Leo didn't even make Brad his executor. In the end, Linda didn't even want Brad to deliver a eulogy. In the end, Barbara took Michael's side. Michael always wins. Michael is waiting for Brad when he gets in that night. It's very late and the funeral is in a few hours. Michael wants to talk about the business. Brad tells him that he's not shutting down anything and that he knows nothing about it and where has Michael been all these years? It basically dissolves into a screaming match with Michael hitting his limit. He's standing in his mother's kitchen, screaming at his little brother that their father is dead. "He's dead Brad! He's dead and you have nothing! He walked out on you! He walked out on her and nothing you do is ever gonna change that!" Brad is through yelling. Danton Stone, who played Brad, just looks horrified. And Brads horror is mixed with sadness and grief. His father is dead, his business is gone, and his older brother, probably in all truth, his idol, has just taken every neurosis Brad has, balled it up and rubbed his face in it. The cruelest people you can fight with sometimes are family, because they know...how to get to you, how to push every button until you crack. And in that moment, that split second when Michael is screaming, it's like looking into the face of a 7 year old who has just been told by his older brother, the that Santa Claus is a lie. Michael may as well have been saying, "Brad, he hated you & he loved me and you know it's true and here's the proof." I believe Michael is as horrified as Brad. Did he speak any lies in his tirade, no. Was it his misguided, big brother aka royal pain way of saying "wake up" to Brad? Maybe. But it was cruel. Michael knows it, everyone knows it. And Michael, if nothing else, has always thought of himself as civilized. When his anger, when his inner cave man, when it grabs a hold of him and he strikes, he's always as shocked as anyone and twice as guilty. So now it's the day of the funeral and Michael is making 1 last trip to the factory. A lady who worked with Leo as a bookkeeper for 50 years tells Michael he made the right choice in selling, but she's got somethings to tell him about Brad.Everyone is ready for the funeral at Barbara’s house. They send Michael up to talk to Brad. It’s silent, it’s awkward. But Michael starts. He talked to the bookkeeper who told Michael that Brad has been killing himself to keep the business open, because it’s what kept Leo going. That he probably would have died years before if he hadn’t had that company to go to & Brad made that happen. Michael even admits that he couldn’t believe his ears because this wasn’t the screw up brother he knew. Then he talks about the money. And says after everything is sold and the loans are paid, that there won’t be much, but if Brad took it all, he could be an architect like he always wanted. Brad is confused about why Michael would do this. And Michael, ever the crier (refer to my Season 1 Christmas episode review), can barely manage to get the words out. “You’re my brother”

    And for once, I’m happy with the happy ending. I tend to prefer ambiguous endings, where things aren’t neatly tied up and maybe they aren’t really, because after this reconciliation, they have to go bury their father. And you never hear from Brad again, for the rest of the series, never find out what happened to him. But for this one moment, Brad’s big brother Michael really did take care of him, really did know what was best for him, and helped him to get through.moreless
Timothy Busfield

Timothy Busfield

Elliot Francis Weston

Mel Harris

Mel Harris

Hope Murdoch Steadman

Peter Horton

Peter Horton

Gary Sheperd

Melanie Mayron

Melanie Mayron

Melissa Steadman

Ken Olin

Ken Olin

Michael Steadman

Patricia Wettig

Patricia Wettig

Nancy Krieger Weston

Barbara Barrie

Barbara Barrie

Barbara Steadman

Guest Star

Danton Stone

Danton Stone

Brad Steadman

Guest Star

Dena Dietrich

Dena Dietrich

Birdie Kravitz

Guest Star

Brittany Craven

Brittany Craven

Janey Steadman

Recurring Role

Lacey Craven

Lacey Craven

Janey Steadman

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

More
Less