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What's the Deal with NBC's 'The Slap'?

By Dustin Rowles | Comment Diversions | February 2, 2015 |


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If you were watching the Super Bowl last night, or if you’ve watched much of NBC at all in the past month, you may be familiar with their upcoming series, The Slap, starring Peter Sarsgaard, Thandie Newton, Zachary Quinto, Uma Thurman, Melissa George, and Brian Cox.

Here’s the trailer:

I’ll be the first to admit that the trailer looks preposterous, but it’s an NBC promo, and I’m just as willing to wager that a cast as talented as this wouldn’t agree to a mini-series that essentially looks like a salacious Parenthood episode on downers.

And if you’re wondering if there’s more to it — murder, sex, violence? — than just a slap, you may be both disappointed or heartened that there isn’t. It’s an eight-hour series based on a single slap. But psychologically, emotionally, and philosophically, there is more to it. In fact, I could very well see a comments section that might explode over the central question: Should a naughty boy be taught some discipline, or should the police ought to be brought in to investigate a common assault?

That question formed the basis of the novel by Australian author Christos Tsiolkas upon which the series is based, as well as the Australian series that preceded the American one. That novel won a few literary awards and even received some consideration for the Man Booker prize, while the Australian series, which received generally glowing reviews, attracted a large audience in Australia and several other countries where it aired.

Each of the eight episodes are told from the point of view of a different characters, which means we’re likely to get a different perspective on whether the slap was OK depending on the cultural background and the upbringing of the focus character. Those with kids will probably have different opinions than those without, and those who were brought up in homes where spankings were common may also have differing opinions.

In a way, it’s kind of a repeat of the Adrian Peterson controversy, where the Internet exploded with opinions about how much — if any — discipline should have been meted out to the Minnesota Vikings running back.

I’m curious, though: Where would you fall on the spectrum given this scenario the scenario involved in the series, where the kid is slapped for nearly hitting the slapper’s kid with a baseball bat?

Maybe you’d be OK with it? Maybe you’d yell at your cousin for hitting your kid. But would you call the cops knowing that doing so may actually result in your cousin losing his child?

There’s a lot more to unpack there than the adverts might suggest, enough even to fill a compelling eight-hour miniseries.



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