7 March 2016 | totalovrdose
A Gem! A Show Full of Heart and Humor the Whole Family can Enjoy!
I happened to watch The Family Law before reading Benjamin Law's autobiographical novel, information acquired from the text assisting me in comprehending more of the story. Though the book is evidently targeting an older audience, the show, despite its dark humor and occasional sexual references, seems like the kind of product an entire family could engage with.
Although each episode encompasses moments of hilarity, I personally found the text to be funnier, during which I occasionally screamed with laughter. This aside, the show remains incredibly fun, and a joy to watch, incorporating witticisms and slapstick.
As the narrative is set over the course of a summer, several moments from the text, which spans a number of decades, are subsequently removed, though Mr. Law deserves kudos for incorporating all that he could. Although the text predominately takes place during the nineties, the show is contemporarily adapted, using modern references and events to ensure unanimous comprehension.
Benjamin (Trystan Go) is a 14 year old student, Mr Law poking fun at himself by creating a character who is a pretentious, self-centered drama queen. Though Benjamin is not only the lead, but the narrator, it is his mother, Jenny (Fiona Choi) who steals the show. One moment outlandishly awkward, the next, tragically sympathetic, Ms. Choi creates an affectionate, motherly character, who, despite her hardships, remains young at heart.
Ben's father, Danny (Anthony Brandon Wong) is the stereotypical hard-working Chinese husband, who demonstrates his love through continuously running a business, while Ben's siblings, the rebellious Candy (the beautiful Shuang Hu), older brother Andrew (George Zhao), who seems to be the odd one out, tom-boy Tammy (Karina Lee), and adorably cute, yet strangely poo obsessed Michelle (Vivian Wei), comprise the rest of the family. The characters, with their unique personality and traits, are incredibly likable, and though each episode runs for just over 20 minutes, we, the audience, are able to instantly connect with this obscure collection of people, because of the passionate realism employed.
The atmosphere of the show illustrates the stereotypical impression of Queensland, the settings, climate and use of nature heightening the legitimacy of the location. The music also, with its light-hearted appeal, assists in establishing what emotions the audience ought to feel, though moments of pure dialogue, are equally effective.
Furthermore, similarly to an Eddie Murphy production, Mr. Law normalizes ethnic minorities, while making stereotypically prominent Caucasian characters strangely eccentric, and providing them lesser screen-time. Mr. Law seems perfectly content incorporating such humor, and though themes including homosexuality, underlying racism in Australia, and the rift between China and Japan are occasionally illustrated, their inclusion seems very safe. Thus, these themes are not provided the necessary depth to ensure meaningful impact.
At the same time, similar comments could be made about a number of the relationships. Though the Law family is provided substantial screen time, characters including Heidi (Kimie Tsukakoshi), Wayne (Sam Cotton) and Melissa (Bethany Whitmore) seem very two-dimensional as a result of lacking characterization.
Upon reaching the conclusion, a viewer may undoubtedly feel as though the show is incomplete, with a number of questions remaining unanswered, while several story-lines remain unfinished. If another series blesses our screens in the future, I would desire to see more characterization, a deeper focus on Ben's siblings, and additional references to the themes critiqued in this show. As a man who is homosexual and originates from an ethnic background, I imagine Mr. Law has a number of things he could argue in response to a government that marginalizes both - this show could serve as a great stage for such poignant social commentary.