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.
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.
I didn’t intend to post this on Chinese New Year, but the backlog of posts I have here has made it possible. “Birthday Bash” is about Andrew, and I like the way we’re getting to know Andrew and Candy as well as Ben. Tam and Michelle haven’t had as much screentime as the older siblings, but there are two episodes left, so it could still happen. I’m not entirely sure of the order in which the Law children were born, but given that Ben is now 18, he’s probably the oldest. This is one of the reasons he’s less affected by his parents’ separation than his younger siblings – he’s an adult, and it probably won’t be long until he stops living with his parents altogether. That doesn’t make his decision to move in with Danny (who is still living in the restaurant) any easier for Jenny, but he appears to be the only one of the children who understands that his parents aren’t getting back together (Candy is too in love with Wayne to focus on her parents’ marriage, but I suspect she’s closer to Andrew than her younger siblings).
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.
Jenny: Even if it was 100%, that still doesn’t mean all the other days are suddenly okay.
I watched the first episode of The Family Law twice – once by myself and once with my family, and I did the same with the second episode. I know the jokes that are coming, but there’s something about anticipating them and seeing which jokes my family likes, which is usually something that comes out of Jenny’s mouth. The “Christmas Episode” (in quotation marks because it’s not an event episode/the last episode of the show before Christmas) of The Family Law uses some of the tropes of traditional Christmas and Thanksgiving episodes, like the person who cooks the turkey getting all stressed and trying to make everything pleasant, but instead of it being Jenny, it’s Ben. Jenny kicked his dad out a week ago, and the children all miss him. They don’t understand her actions because they really have no idea what state their parents’ marriage was in, and maybe everything will be okay if Christmas is perfect. Or not.
When I went to the Melbourne Writers Festival last year, my favourite event was one of a series about television, featuring Benjamin Law and Tony Briggs. There was some discussion of how they made it into the industry, but it became a larger discussion about diversity on television, and it was fascinating. The Family Law is loosely based on Law’s memoirs of the same name, and is only the second scripted Australian show to have a mostly Asian-Australian cast. The other one is Maximum Choppage, which like The Family Law was produced by Matchbox Pictures. At the event, the host brought up that Benjamin Law once wrote that he played a game called “Spot the Asian” when he watched television as a child. Law’s response was: “I still play Spot the Asian.” This is the only mention I’m going to make about the ethnicities of various cast members, because what matters is that they’re great, and so is this show.