Tradition, family, discontent and generational divide surround the sixth episode of the ABC adaptation of Christos Tsioklas’ novel The Slap. The episode looks into the life of Hector’s father Manolis and presents the view of the older generation following the revelations that have come post the slap.
Lex Marinos stars as Manolis and digs deep into the complex role. Manolis is a man who is dedicated to his family, and at the same time exhibits an inner contempt for his wife Koula (Toula Yianni), and for the trappings and failings that marriage and old age bring. Respect is at the forefront of his ethos, and something that is seen lacking in especially the younger generations. As Manolis detests Hector’s constant phone checking, a generational divide is revealed.
Manolis’ simmering rage finally comes to a great explosion during the wake of a former friend. Koula’s reaction is typically exaggerated and overwhelming claims of shame. It is literally Greek drama that is so often referenced as a style, but of course, ingrained with a sense of Australianism. The use of the Greek language represents a part of Australia’s multicultural background. Defining Australianness is a complicated task, but television shows like The Slap get closer to representing the visible Australians. Embedded racisms are also evident with both Manolis and Koula having engrained racial views about white Australians and about Hector’s wife Aisha.
Jonathan La Paglia and Sophie Okonedo are once again terrific in their supporting roles. We also get to see the wonderful theatre actor Eugenia Fragos as the objectionable daughter Elsavet. The hit-and-miss use of William McInnes’ narration seemed to be utilised at its best in this episode, where it managed to be fairly consistent and revealed much of the detail of the characters that may have otherwise gone unknown.
Director Tony Ayres and screenwriter Kris Mrska hit the mark on all of the subtleties of a potentially exaggerated depiction of Greek Australians. Manolis’ episode is a strange departure from the real incident of the slap, and yet it rings together themes of morals, family and traditions. The Slap is an Australian drama that is not fearful of depicting the true ugliness and mundaneness evident in regular suburban life.
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The Slap airs Thursday nights at 8.30pm on ABC1, and also screens on ABC2 and View.