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'Alias' nostalgia react: Sydney has the worst family in the world

Season 1 | Episode 11 | “The Confession” | Aired Jan 6, 2002

I’m about halfway through season one of Alias and I have reached a very definitive conclusion: Sydney Bristow has the worst family in the history of families. Okay, so maybe the Dursleys and the Wormwoods are worse, but the Bristows are a solid #3. Like, her family (and by extension, life) is so bad that I actually feel a little guilty for making fun of her dopey face … but only a little. It’s SO DOPEY:

dopey sydney bristow

Let’s break down the awfulness that is the Bristow clan:

Sydney Bristow: Sydney is a dopey, borderline incompetent superspy wunderkind. This character makes NO SENSE. The disconnect between how great people say she is and how mediocre she often really is … is just massive. She joins SD-6 and finds out that her dad works there too. She becomes a secret agent and then finds out that her dad is one too. She’s following in his footsteps at every turn, even though she kind of hates him and thinks he’s a supervillain. She is wrong. Sydney is wrong a lot, and she makes little-girl faces every time she is.

Jack Bristow: Jack Bristow is a big fat liar. He’s made a whole career out of being a liar and is apparently great at it because he’s like, a triple agent. He’s undercover so many times over that I’m not sure he even exists. He might be a figment of everyone on the show’s collective imaginations. His daughter is a brat who hates him, even though he risks his life on an almost daily basis to save her. She thinks that he was responsible for her mother’s death.

Laura Bristow: Sydney’s mom is the real KGB agent who organized hits on lots of CIA spies, including Vaughn’s dad. She sounds awful, and I’ll bet she isn’t even really dead.

The way Alias is mixing its high-action premise with blatant melodrama is actually getting interesting. At first, I was a little put off. I was promised action and a badass female lead, and I think I was maybe too literal with my expectations of the series. Now that I realize Alias is the kind of show that, by episode 11, is revealing that the protagonist’s “dead” mother is ALSO a spy (and an evil one at that), I’m starting to feel like I’m on board for anything.

Here are some other soapy reveals I’d now like (but do not really expect) to see, just to push the show into Revenge level sudsiness:

  • Vaughn is really Syndey’s half-brother. They’ll learn this after they’ve had an epic makeout session. Everything will be awkward.
  • Will Tippin was kidnapped somewhere around episode 5 and has been replaced with a prototype robot soldier OR a spy who’s had plastic surgery to look like him and is spying on Sydney and reporting back to yet another covert agency.
  • Danny never really died. He’s actually a CIA operative who wooed Sydney with the sole intention of getting her to reveal that she was a spy, so that SD-6 would “assassinate” him and spur her to become a double agent. Jack Bristow planned the whole thing.
  • Sloane is also a double agent. So is Dixon. So is Nerdy Marshall. SD-6 doesn’t even really exist because EVERYONE is a double agent.

Please, Alias. You’re almost ridiculous enough for me to like you in a completely different way from how I ever expected to. Just cross the line already.

Do you think Alias was super-soapy too? Sound off in the comments!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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