Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Few Thoughts On 'The Slap'

I seem to be out of step with most reviewers about this programme. I keep seeing rave reviews about how good it is and, well, as far as I'm concerned, no. I have to admit that the relentless promos in the lead up meant I was just about over it before it started but I did try to give it a fair viewing. After all the novel by Christos Tsiolkas is a multiple prize winner, the actors involved are certainly talented and the ABC has produced some brilliant drama in the past.

The premise is that one action - the slap of the title - can cause far reaching effects and I expected the story of its repercussions would make for a gripping tale. Its structure is unusual with each episode seen through the eyes of one of eight viewpoint characters and that should help us engage with them. The trouble is I have no empathy for any of the viewpoint characters. I just don't like them enough to care about the consequences of the incident. I start to feel a degree of connection for them and then they go and do or say something that pushes me away. Even those sinned against among the viewpoint characters aren't all that likeable.

Of course, a character doesn't have to be likeable but we do have to be able to engage with them and have either some empathy or some sympathy for them and, for me, this just isn't there in this series. An unflawed character tends to be boring and I certainly wouldn't be interested in watching a parade of saintly goody goodies either but somehow there is a disconnect for me here. The characters all have their problems but for some reason - even when they are experiencing things that would normally touch me deeply - I just don't feel it. I don't think it's anything to do with the actors - I find the characters they are portraying believable if unpleasant - but I just don't care enough to keep watching.

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