Apr 25, 2022

"The Family Law": Chinese-Australian Boy Struggles to Come Out


The Family Law, on Hulu, is a sitcom about a Chinese-Australian family in Queensland: wildly inappropriate Mom, harried Dad (Anthony Brandon Wong), jock older brother (George Zhou, left), two sisters, and focus character, "life is unfair" Ben (Trystan Go).   Sort of like Malcolm in the Middle or The Goldbergs, except that at some point Ben comes out.  

Looking through the episode synopses, I don't see any indication of romantic interest for Ben, until Season 3 Episode 1:  When their parents are gone, Melissa and Ben "scheme to get into a Year 12 (high school senior) party, where there will be booze and -- more importantly for Melissa -- boys."  Obviously Ben is not out yet.

Episode 3: "Ben struggles with a crippling addiction to watching Klaus pump iron across the street, and is riddled with anxiety over what it means."

Episode 5: "Ben battles with his feelings toward Klaus."

Season and Series Finale: "Aunt Maisy's son has come out as gay and it's the end of the world." So they wait until the very last moment for Ben to come out!  Typical!  I'll watch Episode 3 instead.  Maybe there will be beefcake.

Scene 1
: Ben peers through his telescope to watch across-the-street neighbor Klaus (Takaya Honda, left) working out.  Shirtless, extremely muscular!  In voice over, he talks about how dangerous an addiction is.  Sometimes you have to remove yourself.  He backs away.  

Scene 2: Dinner.  Sister Candy and her boyfriend Wayne (Sam Cotton, below) have an announcement.  Everyone thinks that they are engaged, but no, they're taking the family camping.  Wayne explains: "No distractions, no temptations."  Everyone hates the idea, except Ben,  who thinks this might get his mind off Klaus's muscles.

Scene 3:
Getting ready for school.  Everyone except Ben is complaining about the camping trip: "Being raped and killed by dingos."  

In the B plot, divorced Mom had a date with Pete (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor), but -- vulgarity alert -- he...um...soiled his pants.This ain't the Goldbergs!   He doesn't want a second date: "It's not the right time."  Mom is crushed.

Scene 4:  Unpacking groceries.  Mom is still crushed.  Suddenly Klaus from across the street drops by: he accidentally picked up Ben's shorts after gym class.  The embarrassed Ben rushes into his room; Klaus follows, and finds the telescope Ben uses to spy on him: "Hey, I can see right into my bedroom!" Then he lies down on Ben's bed.  Ok, now you're deliberately teasing him.  

Scene 5: The next day at school, Ben complains to his friend: "He was in my bed, touching my junk (which means something different in Australia), overstepping his bounds!"  Klaus appears: he heard that they were going camping, so he's going to lend Ben his state-of-the-art sleeping bag: "But wash it first.  It still smells like me."  Ulp!

Scene 6: Packing up the car.  It's way overcrowded.  Off to the outback!

Scene 7:
 Everyone is there, including the five Laws, Boyfriend Wayne (Sam Cotton), divorced Dad and his girlfriend, and Wayne's gung-ho parents.  They claim that the site was sacred to the Aboriginals. Then they discuss the various poisonous snakes and spiders in the area.  "But don't worry -- there are first aid kits next to the eskies (coolers)."  

They set up their tents.  Ben isn't doing it right, so Wayne's  Mom shows him how: "Man goes into woman, Bob's your uncle, and erect."  Even erecting tents becomes sexual in this show.

In the B plot, everyone wonders why Mom didn't bring Pete.  She gets angry, and finally claims that she dumped him..

Scene 8:  Night.  The couples cuddle.  Ben hangs out with his older brother.  Mom is alone and miserable.  When everyone goes to bed, divorced Dad stays behind to talk.  He thinks his new girlfriend is pregnant.

Scene 9:  Ben imagines Klaus in the tent, shirtless.  They almost kiss.  When he awakens in the morning, he discovers that he had a "wet dream" and got semen all over Klaus's sleeping bag (a parallel to what happened with Mom and Pete).  He rushes to wash it off.  Mom sees him and congratulates him for "becoming a man."  How does she know that it's semen and not urine?  Suddenly everybody is watching.  They laugh and point like junior-high bullies.   

Scene 10: Breakfast.  Ben accidentally squirts too much ketchup onto his egg sandwich, inviting the inevitable laughter.  That's just mean.  He runs into the woods.  They yell "Off to have a private moment?"  Come on, he's a teenager.  These things happen. 

Later, Boyfriend Wayne's Mom overhears them talking about Dad's girlfriend being pregnant, and thinks it's Candy, her son's girlfriend.  Misunderstanding jokes.

Scene 11: Bushwalking.  The misunderstandings are resolved: Candy isn't pregnant, and neither is Dad's girlfriend: she had a hysterectomy (she doesn't know the English word, so she describes the procedure in vulgar detail instead).  The whole group is shocked. Mom tells everyone that she didn't dump Pete, he dumped her.  The whole group is shocked again.  Later Mom bonds with Wayne's Mom over the misunderstandings.

Scene 12: Campfire, night.  Ben is still upset over what happened in Klaus's sleeping bag.  Could this mean that he is attracted to Klaus?  That he likes boys?  That he's....you know...?  Mom, misunderstanding his distress, tries to comfort him: "Klaus won't mind.  He's a teenager.  He's probably done that in his sleeping bag a hundred times."  This only increases Ben's anxiety.  We fade out to melancholy music.

Klaus working out.

Vulgarity: Lots more than I wanted to hear.

Chinese Culture: The parents and Dad's girlfriend all have accents, so they're first generation.  You would expect some cultural references.  But there aren't any.

Coming Out Anxiety: Ben seems to think of being gay as a "dangerous obsession."  I don't understand his distress.  This is around the year 2000, in gay-friendly Brisbane.  Ben's sex-positive family would certainly be fine with it.  Besides, his interest is obvious, and no one ever associates him with girls, so doubtless they know already.  

Waiting Until the Very End of the Series:  Typical.

My Grade: B-.


  1. When Ben finally comes out to his family, Mom is surprised but supportive, and everyone else is like "Yeah...so?"

  2. Hey Boomer, I do not know how to contact you to ask you a question, so if you can show me where to do it (if available)? I wanted to ask you if you could feature Jared Leto? The man is in amazing shape for 50!, he is a great actor (in my opinion) and he is a very very strange person (in most people's opinion) Thank You. Stuart

  3. My email address is boomersbeefcake@gmail.com, but it's all spam, so I almost never check it. Jared Leto is mentioned in my review of "Blade Runner 2069," but I don't think he's had a lot of gay or gay-subtext roles. Did you have any movie in mind?

    1. No, nothing comes to mind (although I did like "Morbius") I think he won an Academy Award for his work in "Dallas Buyers Club". I heard a lot about him recently (cult leader?). I just wanted to know your opinion of him? I will check out "Blade Runner" review. Thanks....Stuart


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