TV Review: The Slap: Connie

Sophie Lowe as the 17-year-old Connie

It wasn’t that long ago that I was a teenager. Those seven years of awkwardness and raging hormones strike me now as something akin to a nomadic existence. Sure, we had to go to school, but apart from that, we drifted, waiting for something, anything to happen. You could say that Connie (Sophie Lowe) is an example of a so-called “typical teenager”.

However, defining “typical” becomes problematic, and differentiation between real teenagers and television teenagers must be made. When I say television teenagers, I am referring to those types of characters seen on shows such as Skins where intense drama is at the forefront. Overdoses, lots of sex and wild parties surround their youthful days. This is not necessarily an inaccurate reading of teenagerdom, but one that is on the most part extremely disproportionate. Most teenagers’ lives are a constant state of drifting in between unconscious sleeping states and just not having that much to do. Ask any teenager how they are feeling and the answers are most likely to be tired and bored.

The fourth episode of the Christos Tsiolkas’ adaptation of The Slap focuses primarily on Connie, a seventeen-year-old veterinary assistant to Aisha (Sophie Okonedo). Of course, it was the child of Rosie (Melissa George), Aisha’s friend, who was slapped and triggered the whole series. Connie babysits for both Aisha’s children and the slapped child Hugo. That is roughly the extent that the slap plays in Connie’s life. It is a subplot, which seems sensible. After all, she is removed from the situation and had other things going on in her mind when it actually occurred. By other things, I mean Aisha’s husband Hector (Jonathan LaPaglia).

Crushes are one thing, but the dangerous path that Hector and Connie treaded in the first episode has now led to something much more intense. As Hector drives Connie home one night, something big happens. Whether we define Connie as the dominant person in their exchange, or even if we define Hector as a sexual predator, it still doesn’t change the state of their exchange. Connie and Hector’s relationship is supremely intense and terrifyingly awkward.

Awkwardness is the biggest theme that I can spot in this episode. The pacing by director Matthew Saville highlights this well. A lot of the time spent in the episode is silent; pondering. Experimenting with sexuality, while thrilling, is seen as awkward as it can actually be in reality (something unusual in television). Thankfully, Tsiolkas’ story and Alice Bell highlights teenagerdom as a strange state of being. Sophie Lowe displays an incredible talent and tenderness that we saw in Beautiful Kate and is radiant as Connie. LaPaglia stumbles appropriately around Connie and doesn’t know which way to turn. Maude Davey (aka Jonah’s teacher from Summer Heights High) supports Connie at home very well and shows the so-called normal life she dwells. Blake Davis is still jumping around rather rampantly as Richie, but will hopefully come into his own in his later episode.

The voice of God, aka William McInnes’ strange narration, actually had some poignant moments in this episode, especially when he read the letter that Connie’s mother had written to her sister before dying. Overall, another exciting episode from a terrific series and we are only at the half-way point.

To see other episode reviews, click here.

The Slap airs Thursdays at 8.30pm on ABC1, and also screens on ABC2 and iView.

3.5 blergs

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