Review: The Slap

First thing’s first. I am not a parent yet, so some people might think that my opinion about the events in NBC’s new miniseries The Slap doesn’t matter. Everyone seems to have a different parenting style, and those ideas and opinions are the focus of this American remake. It’s being touted as “TV’s controversial new drama,” but this premiere just seems to be the tip of the iceberg. Let’s see how the drama unfolds before we make too many rash decisions, shall we?

At the center of the pilot is Hector (Peter Sarsgaard) and his wife Aisha (Thandie Newton, who is allowed to keep her accent!). She is throwing him a 40th birthday party, and she has invited a slew of family and friends even though she doesn’t know he didn’t get a big promotion at work. Aisha works a lot at a new medical practice, and they get into an argument over his lack of consideration of her career when his parents present them with a free trip to Greece.

The show introduces us to a crowded tapestry of characters very quickly—it almost feels as if they wanted to overcrowd the pilot episode just to confuse us. Each episode will focus on the point of view of a different character. The main focus is on event in the title. Melissa George and Thomas Sadoski have a more relaxed parenting style. Their young son, Hugo, is out of control, and he constantly talks back to other adults and is destructive of Hector’s home. During a seemingly innocent game of backyard baseball, Hugo throws a tantrum, and Hector’s cousin, Harry (Zachary Quinto), slaps Hugo across the face. Was this episode of The Slap brought to us by the letter H?

While the episode unfolded, all I could think about was, “when is the slap coming…when is the slap coming…” and I could barely focus on any of the other characters and their own drama. Hector was this close to sleeping with a younger girl and Uma Thurman’s budding romance with Penn Badgley (yes, that Penn Badgley) took a backseat to the show’s anticipation of “the incident.” The entire hour felt like it was purely setup setup setup. Will we get to see petty drama come out in the subsequent weeks?

The most distracting thing about The Slap is its unnecessary narration. Surely, I am not the only one who forgot there was a narrator until the voice popped back in. Just let the action unfold without the divine narrator telling us what the characters are thinking and feeling. This is the kind of show that wants to start conversations and debates, but it’s getting muddled by the talking that doesn’t need to be there.

Let’s take a step back for a second and wait for the next couple episodes before we judge anything. This was sort of an extended trailer rather than an episode. Until then please listen to the opening credits song in later episodes. The Slap features the jauntiest opening credits music about a kid getting knocked across the face.

3 comments

  1. Avatar
    steve50 7 years ago

    “Let’s take a step back for a second and wait for the next couple episodes before we judge anything. ”

    Yes, let’s.

    While I’m a huge admirer of Tsiolkas writing, esp The Slap, Loaded (which became HEAD ON onscreen) and Barracuda, I was worried how he would translate to mainstream network TV. His approach to creating characters that struggle with the battle between how they want to be perceived and what actually drives them is alienating to most audiences. I was afraid that the NBC version would jump the shark in the interest of ratings – and they did not. As a result, I doubt the show will be a hit, if only because we don’t like hearing such things about the human condition. Even the tiniest recognition stings the viewer, and never more so when he goes after the “normal” middle class where we see grandparental generosity as a means of controlling, PC correct parenting as actual child neglect, and the honesty of someone like Hector as brutality.

    I agree with the narration, but I think Cholodenko was going for a recreation of the literary structure of the book. I’m torn between the important insights it brings to the character on whom we are focusing in each chapter/episode and the jarring interruption it creates.

    The cast is perfect so far, which may not endear them to the audience, and while I preferred the rougher language of the book, I think overall this is a pretty brave attempt to revisit the Thirtysomething/Brothers and Sisters family drama structure that we have become used to on network TV. I also like the fact that it will be a limited series completed in seven episodes – this is the way to go. The only annoyances are the commercial breaks and the wait for an entire week to continue.

    1. Avatar
      steve50 7 years ago

      Harry – Harry – not Hector. Proofread,Steve, proofread.

      btw – love the Homerian reference in the name. Hector was the pure and devoted protector of family in myth – but not so much in reality. Yet another “slap” from the author.

      1. Avatar
        Craig Kennedy 7 years ago

        Was only able to watch part of this last night, but we’ll be recording part of our next podcast on it so I’m going to get back to it this morning I think.

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