End­ing on a high

It’s the fi­nal sea­son for SBS show The Fam­ily Law and its cre­ator, Ben­jamin Law, is ready for the end. He tells DANIELLE MCGRANE why the time is right for its con­clu­sion and what will be re­vealed in the fi­nal sea­son.

Sunday Territorian - - TV -

Ben­jamin Law is not your typ­i­cal TV show cre­ator. He isn’t des­per­ately cling­ing to his show, The Fam­ily Law, but in­stead he’s more than ready to let it go af­ter its third and fi­nal sea­son – be­cause that’s what he had al­ways planned.

“It’s hard to get a third sea­son up of any show and we ac­tu­ally con­ceived of this show as a tril­ogy right from the start,” Law said.

The show, loosely based on Law’s 2010 mem­oirs of the same name, was care­fully mapped out from the be­gin­ning of its run on SBS. “We didn’t con­ceive of Fam­ily Law as be­ing a show that goes on for­ever like Home and Away or some­thing, we re­ally knew that the first sea­son would be about di­vorce, the sec­ond sea­son would be about what a fam­ily can be af­ter a mar­i­tal break-up, and the third sea­son was al­ways go­ing to be about Ben com­ing out as gay – to the point where we flagged that right in the first episode of sea­son one,” he said.

“He’s (Ben) look­ing through his tele­scope and there’s a ref­er­ence to the fact that he’s sup­posed to be spy­ing on his hot, fe­male neigh­bour and he just lingers way too long on the hot, male neigh­bour who’s lift­ing weights. That wasn’t the cen­tre of the plot, but we put that there in the very first episode, to sig­nal to the au­di­ence that we’re all one step ahead of Ben.”

The show has pro­vided a point of ref­er­ence for young peo­ple and teenagers grow­ing up in a fam­ily go­ing through di­vorce. It’s also about an Asian-Aus­tralian fam­ily, again a ref­er­ence Law wanted to pro­vide for other young peo­ple out there look­ing for more di­ver­sity on their screens.

And this sea­son it will also show how Ben’s char­ac­ter comes out to his fam­ily.

“Just be­fore the book came out I thought, ‘Gee, this is a book about be­ing gay and com­ing out in coastal Queens­land in the 1990s at the height of Han­son, dur­ing the time my par­ents split up. This is not the clas­sic Aus­tralian story – why would any­one read this?’ and then of course peo­ple did read it and re­lated to it in so many dif­fer­ent ways be­cause they were Asian-Aus­tralian, or be­cause they were kids of di­vorce and be­cause they grew up gay and I think that’s the ef­fect the TV show has had as well,” he said.

What’s been sur­pris­ing for Law is how of­ten he’s ap­proached by peo­ple who didn’t have the ex­act same ex­pe­ri­ence, or cul­tural back­ground as he did, but still found a lot to iden­tify with, or re­late to, in his story.

“Non Asian-Aus­tralian peo­ple have come up to me and said, ‘ Wow you’ve de­picted my fam­ily’ and orig­i­nally that caught me off guard … but of course that’s what I did grow­ing up. I was al­ways made to iden­tify with fam­i­lies that didn’t look like mine be­cause there weren’t Asian-Aus­tralian fam­i­lies on TV. So it made sense that peo­ple would find them­selves in that story,” he said.

There’s one re­la­tion­ship in the se­ries that will be get­ting a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus this fi­nal sea­son – the one be­tween mother and son.

“This was in­creas­ingly a sea­son about Ben and Jenny,” Law said.

“This sea­son was al­ways go­ing to be an ex­plo­ration of sex­u­al­ity and we wanted to par­al­lel that with Jenny’s jour­ney, so as much as Ben is com­ing out as gay, Jenny is com­ing out as a sex­ual be­ing.”

For Law, writ­ing the book and cre­at­ing the TV se­ries was a way for him to cre­ate the things he wishes he had had grow­ing up.

“I think we con­sume sto­ries for two rea­sons; one is to learn about peo­ple who are not like us at all, and two is to find the sto­ries that res­onate with our own lives and to feel like we’re ac­tu­ally seen. And I think those two things can hap­pen at the same time,” he said.

The Fam­ily Law

Satur­day, 8.30pm on SBS

Fam­ily val­ues: Ben­jamin Law, the cre­ator of the com­edy se­ries TheFam­i­lyLaw, with his real mother Jenny.

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