The Family Law, Episode 3: “Asians Gone Wild”


Image courtesy of SBS

Anyone who has read anything about The Family Law in the leadup to its broadcast knows that it’s a comedy about divorce, and that gives the audience an advantage over the characters. This week Ben takes his family to see a counsellor, who decides that Danny should take the children on Saturdays – by himself. Jenny is immediately concerned because Danny has never been alone with the children, but she’s happy to have some time to herself. Ben is busy trying to get his parents back together, Danny is following the advice of the counsellor, and Jenny is worried about custody arrangements. At this point in time Jenny is the only character thinking about divorce, and no one else realises it’s that serious. The idea was planted in her head by the aunties, and the fact that the children had fun with Danny didn’t help. This review has spoilers for the second season of Awkward.

A necessary part of growing up is realising that your parents are human beings with flaws. This becomes a theme of shows about teenagers, and so it is with The Family Law. Something else I watched this week was the second season of MTV’s Awkward., and spoiler alert, Jenna’s parents marriage is in trouble. Lacey did something that caused her father to leave, and Jenna is living with her, while the innocent party is living somewhere else. Jenna was mad at her mother, because she was the person at fault in this situation, but her perception of her parents’ marriage was coloured by this specific incident. Lacey’s best friend Ali tells Jenna that the marriage had been in trouble before, and that her father wasn’t always the best husband. Later in the season, he reveals that he wasn’t home much when Jenna was younger, and she wouldn’t let him pick her up. Jenna wanted her dad to tuck her in every night, but the only way she could get to sleep is if he sang Lacey’s lullaby. These situations are all about perception, which is why the Law children have more fun with Danny than Jenny, who raised them. It doesn’t matter to  them that Danny was never around, but as they grow up they’ll realise that the lack of emotional support is one of the reasons that led to this separation in the first place.

When Danny takes the children to Bee World (possibly based on Superbee Honeyworld as well as Queensland’s theme parks), Jenny relaxes for what could be the first time since she had children. The gets her hair and nails done, and is of course interrupted by the aunties, who fill her with stories about a friend who lost a custody battle to her ex-husband because the children had more fun with him. She’s doubtful, but then the children come home happy because they had fun with their dad. They don’t understand why she kicked him out, which has made her the bad guy. This is compounded by the fact that she never takes them to fun places like Bee World. So, Jenny accompanies the family to the zoo to Ben’s delight and Tammy’s dismay.

Ben sees Jenny’s decision to come to the zoo as a sign that she wants to get back together with Danny. He pulls his father aside and tells him that he’s just following what the counsellor advised, and maybe it will work! The truth is that Jenny is jealous, but Ben doesn’t know that, so he sets his parents up to go on a golf buggy tour of the zoo. Meanwhile the children split up – Andrew has lunch with the neighbour Heidi, Candy and Michelle take another golf buggy, and Ben is supposed to accompany Michelle but is much more concerned with his audition for a health insurance ad that afternoon. Michelle gets a blood nose and goes off to find a tissue, and Ben is so wrapped up in the script that he doesn’t hear her, and panics that he’s lost her. He interrupts his parents’ tour, and everyone panics except for Danny. While they’re freaking out, Michelle walks up behind them with Wayne.

Towards the end as the family watches the birds of prey show (they’re always good fun), Jenny thanks Danny for keeping calm, then admits that she came because she was jealous. Like Ben, Danny saw it as a sign that she wanted get back together, so when he realises that she may be thinking about divorce and custody, it’s a blow. Jenny doesn’t know what she wants, but the aunties planted that idea in her head, and now she’s worried she could lose her children, which is the last thing she wants. What she needed from Danny was emotional support, but he wasn’t able to provide that since he was always at the restaurant, so she kicked him out. I know that this is going to end in divorce, but no one else knows that yet, so it’ll be interesting to see how everything unfolds. Some people wouldn’t want to know that it ends in divorce because of spoilers, but it works here, because how it happens is much more important for the characters and the story than the fact that it happens at all.

Other thoughts:

  • Unsurprisingly, Andrew uses the telescope to spy on Heidi. Heidi works at the zoo, which at this point is the thing I find the least realistic about this show, because you can’t get a job at the zoo if you’re in high school. Well I’m sure you could, but you need specific qualifications for animal handling.
  • Melissa got an audition before Ben did, and landed a role on a crime procedural as a victim.
  • This would have been up earlier, but I’ve been watching a lot of tennis.

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