Review: The Slap, the 2011 Australian version

Anthony Hayes and Melissa George in The Slap

The Slap was a 2011 Australian TV series, and later an American one. Both were based on a novel by Christos Tsiolkas. I remember watching the American version a few years ago, but I think the Australian one is better. Melissa George starred in both. The Australian version is currently streaming on Hulu.

The story begins when a man slaps another person’s misbehaving 4 year old at a barbecue. From that event we branch out into all sorts of directions using 8 episodes to dig into different characters and their roles and reactions to the original event.

Episode 1 is about Hector (Jonathan LaPaglia). His 40th birthday was the reason for the family barbecue. Hector and his wife Aisha (Sophie Okonedo) are the pivot point between Hector’s large Greek family and Aisha’s two best friends. All of them were at the party.

Essie Davis, Sophie Okonedo, and Melissa George in The Slap

Aisha’s friends are Anouk (Essie Davis) and Rosie (Melissa George). Anouk is a single woman who writes for television. Rosie is the mother of the misbehaving 4 year old. These three will support each other no matter what they think about each other.

Harry

The man who slapped the kid was Harry (Alex Dimitriades). He’s Hector’s cousin.

Rosie and her drunk of a husband Gary (Anthony Hayes) take Harry to court over the slap. They are convinced you never hit a child no matter what. But they have no control over their kid. He still gets ‘boobie’ whenever he wants it at age 4. They aren’t perfect parents. We get into the Rosie episode when the court hearing in the case against Harry finally takes place.

We peer into Harry’s relationship with his wife Sandi (Diana Glenn). I thought Alex Dimitriades as Harry did a fantastic job with his part. He had to play a complicated guy and he was really good at it.

Essie Davis in The Slap
Anouk

The other actor I thought gave a particularly outstanding performance was Essie Davis as Anouk. In the episode about her we see her with an actor from her show, Rhys (Oliver Ackland). Rhys is 20 years her junior, but possibly more of an adult than she is.

There’s an episode about Connie (Sophie Lowe). She’s a high school kid. She works in Aisha’s veterinary clinic and she babysits for both Aisha and Rosie. Connie is as hormonally driven to sex as any teenager you’ve ever seen and she sets her sights on Hector. Boy, does that add to everyone’s problems.

Connie’s friend Richie (Blake Davis) was at the barbecue with her. He gets his own episode, too. He’s a closeted gay boy who is struggling to figure it out. His mother Tracey (Jane Allsop) also works at Aisha’s veterinary clinic.

Sophie Okonedo in The Slap
Aisha

During Aisha’s episode she goes to a veterinary convention. This brief escape leads to further conflict between her and Hector. Especially since Aisha refuses to forgive Harry for the slap. She’s loyal to her women friends. Hector is loyal to his family. There’s plenty of conflict there.

Aisha is dark skinned. There’s a Muslim family among their friends. Hector’s parents are old-school Greeks. The prejudice and bigotry among these people toward each other is stunning. Of course it’s only expressed in private. There are class differences, too. The spider web of interlocking tension and secrecy among this group of people creates compelling drama.

There’s not much humor in The Slap. It’s more about the difficulty of real life.

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The Slap poster

Watch the Trailer

This trailer is from when the series was on Canadian TV. In the US it’s streaming on Hulu.

Have you seen this series? Whose side were you on?

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