Oh Brotherly Love… A part of you will always be with me too, ah.
Fandom Flashbacks are a weekly Hypable feature that looks back at old shows (classic, vintage, and freshly dead) and takes our readers onto memory lane as we express our favorite moments, characters, and plots.
Brotherly Love premiered on NBC in September of 1995, and moved to the WB for its second season, airing the series finale on May 18, 1997. Featuring all three of the Lawrence brothers together on screen for the first time, Brotherly Love starred Joey, Matthew, and Andrew as the Roman brothers.
Twenty year-old Joe Roman always had a rough relationship with his father, whom he felt abandoned him when he was five to start a new family with Claire. But when his dad dies suddenly in a racing accident, Joe ends up moving in with his step-mother and two half-brothers, fifteen year-old Matt and six year-old Andy, to help run Roman Customizing, the auto shop his dad owned.
All three boys are very different: Joe is the cool one, Matt’s the geek, and Andy’s just plain weird, but what makes the show fun to watch is how all three brothers always band together for each other. Behind the teasing and jokes there is a genuine love and authentic sense of family, and the chemistry between the three real-life brothers is the glue that keeps each episode feeling fresh, and the message honest.
The Roman family and Roman customizing crew stick by each other through thick and thin. As weird as their individual hobbies may be, and as needy or frustrating as they each might get, they’re always there for one another: just like family.
A mechanic with an easy smile and fantastic ’90s hair, Joe’s known for his luck with the ladies (even if a piece of his heart is always reserved for Lou). He teases Matt and dotes on Andy, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his kid brothers.
A neurotic neat freak, Matt has the propensity to turn every small event into a major life crisis. But behind his excessive teenage angst and ability to blow everything way out of proportion, lies a genuinely sweet and sensitive kid who really just want to be as cool as his big brother.
This weirdo of a kid is at times both impossibly annoying and unbelievably adorable with his mop of hair, wicked smile and killer superhero costumes. Wiser than his seven years, Andy has an answer to everything, but his simple, childlike approach to problems often inspires the other Romans to just trust in each other.
Claire starts off the series as a new widow struggling to keep her family afloat, but after embracing Joe as a part of the family, with the help of her sons, she brings the business back to its feet. Patient, understanding, and most importantly, practical, her maternal wisdom is a stable comfort for everyone in the house and the shop.
This big-haired beauty works as a mechanic at Roman Customizing. Smart, witty, and independent, she’s great with cars, but an artist at heart. She loves Claire like a best friend and mentor, and has a soft spot for Joe– even if they do spend most of the series bickering.
And old family friend, Lloyd is like the Romans’ weird uncle. A mechanic at Roman Customizing, he comes off as kooky, naive, and occasionally needy to his friends, but every now and then surprises everyone with his sensitive, romantic nature. A Momma’s boy with a heart of gold, he would do anything for the family he loves.
All three Roman brothers are a bundle of fun, and it’s tough trying to play favorites because each one brings something so unique to the family’s dynamics. But when forced to choose, we have to admit that from the start of the series, the heart of the show has always been the eldest and outsider, Joe.
Matt and Andy’s half-brother, Joe and his mom were abandoned by his father when he was five to start a family with Claire. And though Joe starts off the series initially resenting the family that his dad left him for, after moving in with his half-brothers and helping run the family business with his step-mom, he’s grown into a substitute father figure in the Roman household.
Joey Lawrence performed Brotherly Love‘s unbelievably catchy and adorably irritating theme song!
A blue-collar kid, Joe is incredibly smart and ridiculously charismatic, but he does occasionally struggle with self-esteem issues stemming from his father’s abandonment and his lack of higher education. Even though he’s used to being popular, he’s still always felt like a scrappy underdog, and so he can’t help but get attached to other people who also identify as outcasts. He pretty much falls head over heels for Lou, the female mechanic with the heart of an artist, and he bonds with the goofy, childlike Lloyd.
Joe really shines on the show though when the series chooses to explore the developing relationship between his brothers. Joe might be jealous of the close bond they both got to have with his own father, but he’s chosen to love them wholeheartedly and unconditionally, embracing the role of protective older brother with ease, even though Matt and Andy are both so different from him.
Matt: Neurotic, Germaphobic, Afraid of Heights.
Joe: What are you working on, buddy, your résumé?”
Joe’s sweet side really comes out when hanging out with his baby brother, Andy. Sometimes, he is the only person in the house to really understand the kid’s weird lifestyle. He not only tolerates Andy’s uniqueness, but he encourages it; absolutely nothing on this show makes our heart melt like watching Joe crash Andy’s room in a makeshift batsuit to ensure his seventh birthday is one he’ll never forget.
The real starring relationship of the show though is between Joe and his teenage brother Matt– who might best be described as that high school kid everyone knows will make great husband material someday, if he could just learn to dial back the dork. Though the two couldn’t be more different, Joe empathizes with Matt’s teenage struggles, even if he doesn’t fully understand Matt’s geeky neuroticism. And in turn, though Joe might hate to admit it, they both learn from each other as they grow into men together.
Everything about Brotherly Love’s pilot is the perfect introduction to the Roman family. Down in the shop, Lloyd is eating pastries and Lou’s babysitting Andy while she works on the cars. Up in the house, Matt’s navigating the complicated maze of high school politics, while Claire struggles to juggle it all.
And then their estranged half-brother walks in. The spitting image of their dad, Joe fixes cars and rides his bike, and despite being the most seemingly Roman of them all, he purposefully distances himself from the family.
Despite himself, as the episode wears on, Joe can’t help but connect to his kid brothers. And when he finally decides to start embracing this side of his family and stay at the garage, we can’t help but smile. In this quick half an hour episode, we get to watch Joe Roman go on a brief personal journey: he’s finally choosing to put away the resentments of his childhood to embrace his responsibilities as a man.
And of course, like the series itself, the best part of the pilot episode is in the casting. We don’t have to warm up to the Romans as a family because the chemistry between the Roman brothers is instantaneous. It feels real, because it is real. And from the start, each of the three Lawrence brothers from five year-old Andrew to twenty year-old Joey easily fell into their part within the television family.
On Page 2: The funniest moment, the most emotional moment, and vote for your favorite character!
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