The Family Law, Episode 6: “Love Is in the Air”

ep-6

Trystan Go. Image courtesy of SBS.

The end of a marriage doesn’t have to be a huge fight followed by your father walking out on you at the worst party ever, as it did on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It can be two people realising that what’s best for them and their children is if they go their separate ways. The end of Jenny and Danny’s relationship reminded me of Dev and Rachel on Master of None. Sometimes things just don’t work out. The Family Law did a fantastic job contrasting Jenny and Danny’s marriage to Candy and Wayne’s relationship. As Candy and wayne prepare to get married, there’s so much emotion involved, whereas Jenny and Danny just feel kind of lost.

When Jenny asks Candy what it’s like to be in love, Candy says “It feels like we invented it.” Jenny’s response is “That must be nice,” which is all we really need to know about her marriage. Marriage for love is a relatively new concept – today we talk about love being love (please keep political opinions out of this), but marriage was originally a system that wealthy families used to maintain their titles and fortune. Jenny and Danny moved to Australia for their children, but they didn’t grow up here. We don’t know why they got married, exactly, because this show is from Ben’s perspective, but I don’t think they ever felt what Candy and Wayne feel for each other. Maybe they loved each other at some point, but there was never that passion. Love is a word that encompasses many different kinds of emotion, it’s not just one thing.

Meanwhile Ben, Candy and Wayne have made a “Save the Date” video for the wedding, which will be in May. Apparently everyone’s making them now. Only one of my high school friends is married, but she didn’t make a video, so I’m interested to see whether or not this is actually a thing. Jenny and Danny are united in their dislike of the entire idea, so they decide to try and support Wayne. Jenny does this by stealing wedding magazines from the Thai massage place (she’s not sure all of them were born women, but they’re very pretty), and Danny hires Wayne to fix the toilet at the restaurant. Wayne tells Danny that he’ll be a good husband, but Danny says that it’s harder than it seems. Danny has been working so hard to get Jenny back, but she won’t have any of it. When Jenny and Danny sit down with the lovebirds to plan the wedding, it turns out that Wayne’s parents don’t know about it. Wayne’s mum is the head of the Mount Isa Monarchist League and his dad is a very prominent anti-Halal campaigner, so the signs are there for the audience, even if Candy’s too in love to see it. Wayne’s parents are racist. Candy calls off the wedding, but the love she shares with Wayne is real. Just because his parents don’t like the idea of Candy, it doesn’t mean he’s not going to marry her.

When Ben hears his mum and Candy talking about being in love, he decides to create a play depicting their most romantic moments with the help of Melissa. Suffice to say, it’s a disaster. When Ben pulls away from Melissa’s kiss (he really is oblivious in the way only a fourteen year old boy can be), she pulls out of the production, and Tutti Fruity is over. He then tries to make the play work with Candy and Andrew, who refuse to kiss. Wayne comes over to apologise just after Andrew pulls out, so Ben tries to rope him in, but he’s too busy getting back together with Candy. In the end what we have is Ben playing the parts of both his parents in an homage to Victor/Victoria, with Jenny and Danny interrupting to tell their children they’re getting divorced. Jenny and Danny spent their 20th wedding anniversary together, and it’s the first time that they’ve actually had a conversation about their relationship. Between raising five children and running a restaurant, they haven’t actually had time to talk about what they want. This is the conversation that has needed to happen for the entire show, and I’m nitpicking here, but it sounded a bit too much like television dialogue. This show is specific in its voice, which is what makes it great, but this particular scene fell flat because of the generic nature of the dialogue.

Just before Jenny and Danny tell their children about their divorce, they hold hands, which gives at least four out of the five children hope. Tam, Michelle and Ben are all quite young, so they really want their parents to get back together. Candy’s a romantic so she believes that they will. I thought that Andrew’s decision to move out was part of him coming to terms with the fact that his parents might not get back together, but he’s still disappointed. It’s an end to something, and that’s sad. But we know they’ll be okay in the long run, because they have a great water fight the next day (I’m assuming the Sunshine Coast isn’t currently under any water restrictions). Like the best comedies, The Family Law knew that comedy and sadness aren’t opposites but companions, and it straddled that line particularly well. It’s up to SBS to decide the future of this show, but even if it’s the end, it told the story it wanted to tell, and that’s what’s important.

Other thoughts:

  • If the show does return for a second season, the biggest question in my mind is the future of Tutti Fruity now that Melissa and Ben are on the outs. The whole cast has been fantastic, and I don’t want a version of this show that doesn’t include Bethany Whitmore.
  • We also need to see Wayne and Candy’s wedding, I’m very invested in them as a couple. Wayne isn’t the smartest, but he has a good heart, and that’s all that matters.
  • I wrote before that I like to watch this show with my parents, so I’m passing on some of their notes. The main discussion when we watched this episode was that the show seems to be more sympathetic to Jenny than Danny, but we also see how hard Danny is trying to get her back. It’s an interesting relationship dynamic, so I’ll probably have to watch the show again.
  • My mum’s request for the second season: more #familycrackers. She liked them the first time, but got tired of them when they were used for every episode.
  • The first season of The Family Law is now available on DVD, and the book upon which it is based by Benjamin Law is available where all good books are sold.
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