While poking around this weekend looking for a movie to watch, I struck out and so I turned to TV for entertainment. I guess Valentine’s Day superseded TV programmer’s need to put anything watchable on the tube so I turned to Hulu.
I made the mistake of watching the pilot for a new NBS show called, “The Slap.” The title alone made me wonder how a TV show could be sustained with such a title but I was desperate.
The Slap is aptly named because it’s a slap in the face of anyone who wasted their time watching it. It centers around a family and extended family of Greek decent. All the stereotypical characters make an appearance and except for the main character, Hector, seem pretty dull.
It’s Hector’s 40th birthday, so family, friends and extended family gather round Hector to celebrate while he is secretly having a midlife crisis and fantasizing about a girl who looks to be about 14 but probably is 17.
There’s the usual banter and family conflict and the thing that stands out most is that a couple (whose relationship to the rest of the characters is very unclear) who has a demon seed for a child. I think his name is Hugo and he is destructive, anti-social and has no compunction about destroying other people’s stuff – imagine what he’ll be like when he’s five? The father of said demon seed is a self-absorbed ‘artist’ who apparently hates rich people as evidenced by his antagonism toward one of Hector’s cousins, a successful car salesman. Ironic considering they’re all hanging at a huge and likely very expensive brownstone drinking fine wine and imported beer. The mother of said demon seed is an airhead whose only solution to her son’s destructiveness is to breast feed her four year old son and treat him as an infant.
All the others are irritated by the child and clearly dismayed by this child’s behavior and his parent’s lack of concern and supervision but tolerate it for some reason.
So, after the kid destroys rare vinyl collector albums, tears out have the garden in the yard, throws a game boy to the floor in a fit he starts swinging a wooden bat at one of the other kids because he’s struck out. The father of the child who is being accosted (naturally it’s the big bad capitalist who has the nerve to succeed) by the demon seed has had enough and intervenes.
He pulls the bat away from the kid who is now totally out of control and shakes him to get the kid’s attention. The kid then kicks the guy. The capitalist slaps the kid out of reflex.
Okay, granted he reacted and shouldn’t have hit the kid but the response of the others is beyond the pale. They liken him to Hitler and it ruins the party. And of course now the ‘child abuser’ is persona non grata because he dared to step in and try to control and out of control situation.
Now there are rumblings about lawsuits and everybody is just appalled by what’s happened. I guess the rest of the show will include the lawsuit and ‘examine’ child abuse as its theme.
There’s only a few problems with this show and its premise:
1. None of the characters are likeable
2. Most of them have all kinds of weird dysfunctional behavior so they aren’t exactly in a position to judge
3. The kid who was slapped was essentially unharmed and is the most unlikeable of them all
4. The parents of the child are almost as unlikeable as the kid
5. It has preachy written all over it.
If NBC or any network wants to take on the themes of family dysfunction and specifically child abuse I think they could find (if they tried) a story that actually looked at this very real problem instead of going for sensationalism and then feeling smug about it.
If you want my advice, avoid the show at all costs.