Won’t the bunny ears cock?

 

 

Asians Gone Wild (SBS)
Asians Gone Wild (SBS)

Benjamin Law’s memoirs continue to crack us up in episode #3 of The Family Law on SBS. The Laws get themselves entangled in a series of mundane issues but return in triumph, as usual, with remarkable aplomb. This time, the sitcom pivots around two predominant threads of story: strained and volatile relationship Mr & Mrs Law continue to be on display and Ben’s audition practice he is keen to focus on. In-between, the dramedy is punctuated with varied bits of dramatic beauty that we couldn’t possibly drag ourselves away from.

The fragile relationship Mr & Mrs Law have is a hotchpotch of several aspects. Suspicion, faith, care, inconsideration, attachment, detachment, gap, proximity, feelings, disinterestedness, intelligence, folly, simultaneously beam through the driving lights of their marital Aston Martin that is badly cracked. At the zoo, Mr Law reminds Mrs Law how, for the first time when they saw a kangaroo, he was kicked by it in his balls. At this, she reminds him back that she had thought he would not be able to produce kids anymore. Both laugh with a sense of nostalgia and irony they evoke.

In another scene, when Mr Law returns from outing with their kids, he tries to convince her that the trip was fun and that all had returned in one piece, against her fears that the kids could get kidnapped. She sounds moderately positive having heard him and tries to move close to him to shut the door. He mistakes it for a kiss, and struggles to snatch at the moment but all in vain. This emotive phenomenon is simultaneously touching and humorous.

The Laws represent a typical Asian culture, coloured by Australian environment, streaked with a universal flavour. The cracks in their bond do not shock the audience. They provide stuff for fun through quips and puns. They elicit real sympathy and pity, not the pity that Aristotle spoke of in his Poetics about catharsis, but the one a dramedy like this can generate.

Petty squabbles and long-running rows that rage on between Mr Law and Mrs Law provide a natural platform for tongue-in-cheek, unintentional and, at times, wry humour. When Mrs Law gets angry, she utters everything in Chinese. This reflects the impact of mother-tongue or the first language. Fairly natural. The audience can readily identify with her character as we move through Episide 3: Mrs Law spies on her daughter and her husband, eavesdropping on the telephone and creating an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion; then the zoo episode and finally, a hoped-for patch-up. Ben’s mother sticks to her guns, despite the fact that Ben tries hard to persuade her to revive relationship with Mr Law. Nothing seems melodramatic. That’s the spark this cringe-comedy creates.

If we move to Ben, we find him with the acting agent who shows him a scene demonstrating how his best friend can cry on cue, which, the agent emphasises, is a gift. Apparently we find him on the skids from alpha to omega, as he has to focus on his audition, and doesn’t find a suitable place for his practice, including the moment at the zoo when he is utterly lost in his cue-crying and younger sister, Michelle, goes missing, and above all, the genuine way to cry on cue.

Indeed, it is ironic, because normally most actors do not display the quality of crying on cue in a natural way. It’s purely drama; hence far from real life, but not completely though. But putting it in the garb of copying a cue-cry brightens the irony. Unlike a terrified cry like the shock-addled sobbing Brad Pitt produces as he wonders aloud what is in the box in SEVEN, Ben utters some indecipherable blubber, firstly when practicing before his father in a restaurant, then when he is alone and finally at the zoo. The more he tries, the more off beam he goes. But this is where humour resides and breathes.

Ben’s big B snoops on a neighbour on Ben’s spyglass, watches her stripping off her clothes. Mrs Law kinda spies on telephone to get the drift of what her daughter talks to Mr Law. Almost identical snooping occurs in previous parts and in episode #2 Ben watches his sis in tryst with her boyfriend. Ben blackmails her for extracting money to get to his audition, but in this episode neither his mother nor his big B is caught at any stage. Stealth remains covered. Humour continues unabated, while it pauses for a while till everyone in the family wears bunny-ear headbands.

Having seen bunny ears on Laws’ heads, I travel in time to a movie, Rabbit Without Ears, a 2007 German romantic comedy. The protagonist of the movie spies in the movie. The name of the movie is ironic. So is the case with the Laws here. Some of them kinda spy and all of them wear bunny ears while the German movie’s rabbit lacked due ears. In presence of such a show in a multi-cultural environment, where almost everyone is from everywhere (pun intended), where nostalgia plays its pivotal role, where diversity is the only uniformity unlike the popular American or Anglo-Australian belief that their dramas lack due gender and racial diversity, where language is a carrier rather than a barrier, where reality, rather than melodrama, sings in a silvery voice, won’t the bunny ears cock?


 

The Family Law screens on SBS Thursdays at 8.30pm.

Want to contribute your own “me-view” of the family law? Just get in touch!

Muzamil Syre

Author: Muzamil Syre

A Chevening Scholar, University of Surrey Alumni, University of Sindh Alumni, Civil Services Academy Alumni, M.A (English Literature), M.Sc. (Management), Muzamil Syre is a poet, critic, essayist, short story writer, member of Society of Editors, SA, as well as The Institute of Professional Editors Limited (IPEd) and SA Writers Centre. He has written three books and maintains his blog, I HAVE POURED MY WINE.

8 thoughts on “Won’t the bunny ears cock?”

  1. I really appreciate the way Muzamil Syre, the blogger, has conceived and approached the The Family Law on SBS.
    To me, the blog is a striking combination of well-watched drama and well-drafted write-up. The account of events and characterization complemented by Hollywood actors and movies and classics like ‘Poetics’ brings the blog close to everyday life.
    The writer has also surfaced some minute details in the setting of the play, expressions of the characters and playfulness of the theme in the most befitting way, so much so that it has convinced me to watch the episode # 3 without much ado.
    As a student of English language, I am delighted to see a sublime use of linguistic devices in this review.
    Thank you writer, thank you SBS and thank you PERIL.

  2. Thanks, dear Imtiax, for your reply, keen interest in reading the whole article and encouraging remarks for the commentary. I am pretty sure if you watch, you will enjoy the show. Once again thanks for dropping in.

  3. Very interesting read indeed mr. Syre. After reading, have found myself wanting to go and watch all episodes. The writer has described the scenarios with lots of colours and situations are linked in a very cheerful way. Another exciting aspect which i found whilst reading was how natural the relationship felt between mr and mrs Law. Nothing fake about it and also shows how fragile these relationships can be. At the same time how strong these are in reality. Once again very beautifully crafted and worth while.

  4. Thanks, dear Saadat, for the interest in the article and comments on the same. I am not sure if you might find a chance to watch the show in London the way we Aussies watch it on SBS, you can watch it online though. Have a nice day.

  5. Impressive writing. Though I have not watched since it doesnt play in my part of the world. It must have been written impeccably but Muzamil you have given its account so well that even being stranger to the characters they seemed familiar to me. The best part is you didnt go in detail of explaining the whole story but touched it subtly that reader enjoys. You have made it so interesting that I think people will like to watch

  6. A lot of thanks, dear Meeral. Feel great to have heard fairly nice comments of appreciation.

    This is one of the popular sitcoms in the Aussie World. It can be viewed online if it isn’t telecast in your part of the world.

    Please do browse our magazine as well, maybe you find a common thread of interest for you.

    Regards
    Muzamil

  7. Through my P.hd, I have been able to read and write such stuff. When i went through yours, i felt like lost in unseen drama. More than what what happens in Drama, happens in the lines of yours which fascinates me. You have given images to Drama through breath of words and genre you have chosen.

    I like these lines, “Petty squabbles and long-running rows that rage on between Mr Law and Mrs Law provide a natural platform for tongue-in-cheek, unintentional and, at times, wry humor. When Mrs Law gets angry, she utters everything in Chinese.” And more than this, i like when you interpret the meaning of it as you say, “This reflects the impact of mother-tongue or the first language” I am Scholar in Second Language learner, I endorse what you say!

    Pleasure reading!

    Zahid Jatoi

Leave a Reply