A unique ‘Family’ poses many questions

Posted April 14, 2016


One random day, a long-gone family member who has been presumed to be dead, shows up at home after 10 years. What would be the reaction of most people? Happiness or full of doubt? Accept the reality or dig out the truth? ABC’s new drama “The Family” brings up these tricky and attractive puzzles for the audience.

“The Family” on ABC is an American thriller TV series. It was created and executive produced by Jenna Bans, the former ShondaLand regular writer. The story started with the return of the mayor’s youngest son, who was believed dead after disappearing more than a decade ago.

ABC's New Drama "The Family" Photo credits to ABC

ABC’s New Drama “The Family” (Photo courtesy of ABC Television).

Joan Allen plays Claire Warren, the ambitious and manipulative mayor of the fictional city Red Pines, Maine. She announces her candidacy for governor at the moment her son Adam, played by Liam James, returns after being kidnapped for 10 years. The new show premiered on March 3, 2016, on ABC before moving to its regular time slot on Sundays at 9 p.m. beginning March 6, 2016.

A decade ago, the Warren family fell apart from the inside because it lost its youngest member. But on the outside, the family still has to stick together and ignore the problems it experiences, Claire Warren became the mayor of Red Pines because losing her son helped her get the support of public. After that, her family is under the spotlight.

However, Claire is not the only reason that made the family crack. Her husband John, played by Rupert Grave, wrote a best-selling book on grief and had become a sought-after expert on recovery. The message they send to the public is too perfect and is bogus, just like the real situation of their marriage.

Alison Pill plays the Warren family’s second child, Willa. She has turned to religion after the trauma. The family’s other son Danny, played by Zach Gilford, became a drunk because his guilt over the loss of his younger brother.

Even the outsider, Nina Meyer, played by Margot Bingham, an ambitious police officer, makes the situation of this family worse. When the audience watches the show, it will realize that each member of this family has something hidden. The truth is waiting to be exposed and will shock the audience.

The Warrens are almost moved out of their respective dark holes. Suddenly, the “dead” boy reappear and the peaceful facade of Warrens is shattered. Who is this boy? Is the boy really their son or just pretending he is? Or both? Sometimes, people think they are still the same person, but they are not the same as yesterday’s selves. Just as Adam said at the end of episode 2, “They say once you’ve left home, you can never go back.”

“The Family”’s story-telling sequence is novel, but a little bit confusing for the audiences to understand the plot. In the show, the first four episodes flit back and forth between the past and the present, which has a huge interval of ten years. Most of the characters have the age changing on their faces.

The odd one is Meyer, the police officer still look the same as 10 years ago which is distracted the audience to distinguished the past from the present. Whenever the audience begins to have some clues about the truth, there is a flashback, and the clues are no longer reliable.

The beginning of the show sets too many story lines to develop, making the audience wonder how to cover all those lines. The Warren family has left many puzzles in the past and more need to be solved on the present. Most important, is it possible for the audience still hold onto the show after all of these overloaded secrets?

The dead child reappearance combined with the political intrigues became an attractive recipe to get the audience. “The Family” is definitely unique among the most of the family drama shows, but is its unique in a good way? The question needs to be answered over time, as the truth surfaces.

  • Program: “The Family”
  • Genre: Drama, Mystery
  • Series Premiere: Mar. 3, 2016
  • Broadcaster: ABC
  • Status: In Season, season one
  • Airs time: Thursday at 9 p.m.
  • Length: 60 minutes.
  • Production: Filmed in New York by Minnesota Logging Co., and Mandeville Television in association with ABC Studios.
  • Cast: Joan Allen, Rupert Graves, Margot Bingham, Allison Pill, Zach Gilford, Liam James
  • Executive producers: Jenna Bans, Todd Lieberman, David Hoberman, Laurie Zaks, Paul McGuigan;
  • Director: McGuigan;
  • Writer: Jenna Bans.
  • Rating: (3/5)