The Family Law, Episode 5: “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”


Image courtesy of SBS.

Families are strange beasts. You may squabble, tease and prank your family, but it’s all done in fun, and with love. When someone outside the family has a go at one of its members however, that’s it. They’ve crossed the line, much like the characters in last week’s episode of Jane the Virgin. Yes, you snipe at your siblings, who you live with because you have to, but familial bonds are sacred. I’ve been embarrassed by my family, furious at them, but I love them deeply, which is why I will hold a grudge against you if you hurt them. This week Jenny’s friend Rose came to visit, and criticised all of Jenny’s life choices, including all her children. When she got to Ben, no one let her finish. It’s partly because this show is from Ben’s point of view, but the Law family knows that Ben’s different, and that’s why they love him.

Jenny isn’t dealing well with Andrew’s choice to move out of home. She’s depressed, and she has insomnia, which she calls ‘sleep cancer’. When whatever Jenny was cooking caught fire one night, Ben decided that she needed something or someone to make her feel better. Andrew doesn’t want to, for the simple reason that he’s an 18 year old boy, and Danny tries to help. He fails, because he uses the word ‘craziness’ to describe Jenny’s actions, which is a bad move. Before Andrew moved out, the only thing that had changed for Jenny is that Danny wasn’t sleeping at home – he was never there in the first place because the restaurant took up all of his time. The word ‘crazy’ implies that Jenny somehow isn’t acting rationally in all of this. She’s just unhappy, and her marriage is possibly the cause of that unhappiness. Losing her son just makes it worse. Jenny opines that she doesn’t have any friends to talk to, so Ben does the one thing he can think of: he calls her childhood friend Rose.

At first it seems like Rose is good for Jenny, and she is. The kitchen is, Jenny is smiling, and they go out shopping with Tammy and Michelle. When Danny comes to visit Jenny with a fruit basket however, Rose turns him away, and then tells Jenny that he didn’t even bother to come and visit. Combined with Rose telling Jenny that she’s already had her heart broken before, we can figure out what’s going on. Rose is good for Jenny, who absolutely needs a holiday, but she’s also incredibly possessive. She tells Jenny that her children don’t appreciate her, but Ben is absolutely heartbroken because Jenny has never missed one of his performances before. He figures out what’s going on, calls Andrew and they go and confront Jenny.

One of my favourite things about The Family Law is the way that it’s addressed Ben’s sexuality, in that it doesn’t. We’ve seen Ben decide to watch Klaus working out instead of Heidi taking off her bra, and he’s clearly into the performing arts, but that’s it. It’s a part of who Ben is, but it doesn’t define him. The Law family has varying awareness of what’s going on with Ben (I’m pretty sure Candy knows, based on Episode 2), some of them with their suspicions, but Rose picks up on it right away because she’s in love with Jenny. So it makes sense that Ben’s the one that figures out what’s up with Rose. It’s never said, and it doesn’t have to be, because this show trusts the audience to make its own conclusion. Yes, I have the foreknowledge that Ben is gay, but there are hints, with Rose asking questions about Ben’s “lifestyle”. The Law family has its issues, but they let each other be weirdos, and they forgive each other, as Andrew races to apologise to Jenny. One of the reasons that your family can be hurtful is because they know how to push your buttons, but they also love you in spite of your flaws, and that’s pretty great.

Other thoughts:

  • Andrew and Danny are living in a motel, and according to Ben, they’re “living it up,” which was my biggest laugh of the episode.
  • Ben, Melissa and Klaus are all taking part in a one week drama workshop. A director from Brisbane is going to be at their final showcase, and it’s a big deal.
  • The most horrifying thing that happened throughout the workshop was when Melissa was in the middle of a circle and the other children were pushing her around saying “You are nothing.” I know this is probably exaggerated, but I need to know: is this something that happens in drama school? I’m sure it happens in some, but I was a little upset.
  • Ben’s monologue was Nicole Kidman from The Hours. He missed the showcase to stop Jenny’s abduction by Rose, and he performed it in the kitchen to his mum and siblings. My favourite touch was his fake nose.
  • Jenny tells Rose that Ben is a triple threat: Acting, costume making and clarinet playing. This is the best definition of a triple threat I’ve ever heard.

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