• Mark Mariano

Review: The Family Law

Let me begin by saying how great 2016 has been so far in terms of multicultural programming and it goes without saying that The Family Law has pioneered a movement with its bold characterisation and story lines that graced our screens in January.

Spanning across six episodes, this fam-com (based on Law’s book of the same name) follows a young Benjamin Law on his journey to stardom. While the show is mainly from Ben’s perspective, the SBS series hits home with its hilarious and accurate portrayal of his immigrant Asian Australian family dealing with regular family woes. Including, but not limited to romantic dysfunction to the point of parental separation, a father’s disapproval of his eldest daughter’s boyfriend, the bickering of young sisters, and the perils of having a soon-to-be-famous family member. Besides its ingenious writing, witty yet subtle jokes and humble production value, more needs to be said about the scenes with pure Chinese dialogue, a rarity on Australian TV. We are given a glimpse into Asian culture and presented with a TV series that doesn’t place Asians in a farcical light.

It is so incredibly refreshing to see a full Asian cast portraying a realistic and relatable family unit. Law is breaking down huge barriers and by default he has catalysed a movement that will inspire many young Asian Australians to pursue their dreams in whatever career they chose. More also needs to be said about Trystan Go’s incredible encapsulation of Benjamin Law. Go plays a little with Ben’s ambiguous yet somewhat assumable sexuality in a way that doesn’t ridicule homosexuality. His performance is genuine and, we imagine, realistic of Ben's actual tween years.

The Family Law switches things up a little, with its Caucasian characters playing the archetypical sidekicks (Ben’s friend Melissa, played by Bethany Whitmore), unlike what we usually see in television and films. You know who I’m talking about, the ones that say the occasional supportive yet mundane line that pushes the main character into motion yet lack their own spotlight moments (like Gilmore Girl’s Lane Kim).

We saw it briefly in the long running Aussie classic 'Neighbours', in which Hany Lee plays the heavily Korean 'Sunny'. Ethnic comic relief has twisted cultural representation not only domestically, but in many Western films. May it be Ken Jeong in ' The Hangover' or 'Community', or Sofia Vergara on 'Modern Family', or Lucy Liu in anything. It wasn't until the likes of Rush Hour in 1998 where Asian and African American actors were able to mainline a successful film franchise. With Eddie Huang's Fresh Off The Boat, Lee Lin Chin's 'The Weekend Shift', alongside her rise to fame on every social media platform and of course The Family Law, soon the Asian/Black/Hispanic comedic side character trope will be a thing of the past.

Grab your own copy of the first season now and prepare yourself for the second season in 2017, confirmed on Law’s Instagram.

Mark is a sexy young ethnic guy who is known for his infectious laugh and ridiculous sense of humour. He rarely crosses the line, but that may be because he assumes it requires cardio. He prides himself on his morals and ethics but this can easily be thrown out the door if a cute guy gives him attention. Follow him on Instagram here.

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