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Despite offering quite a few shows that are lacking in the ratings, NBC is still managing to bring in some pretty big talent. This week, the network announced that both The Killing’s Peter Sarsgaard and Weeds’ Mary-Louise Parker have signed on to star in the brand new miniseries, The Slap, based on an Australian project of the same name that hit the airwaves down under in 2011.
Way back in January of this year, NBC jumped on the trend of announcing a couple of straight-to-series pick-ups. The big news that day was the network’s Oz-based Emerald City series. Luckily, in the story we also included news about The Slap, an 8-episode miniseries described as a “complex drama,” which is fascinating considering the central plotline on the show follows the relatively simple idea of a man slapping another person’s kid who happens to be misbehaving. It’s the aftermath that will clearly be messy, with a lawsuit igniting and plenty of family drama to boot. Now, with a few big names signed on, the promising premise is becoming an even more attractive pick-up for NBC.
According to Deadline, Peter Sarsgaard will star in The Slap as Hector, the patriarch of a family whose life is not as perfect as it might seem on the surface. During a party, he falls for his wife’s teenaged receptionist, which is a pretty skuzzy move. He may be a creep, but he’s not the guy who slaps the kid. That honor will go to Hector’s cousin.
While it might seem like an easy fit, Parker will not be playing Hector’s wife in The Slap. Instead, she’ll play Hector’s pal Anouk, a writer on a TV show. We don’t know much about her personality or her role, except for the fact that she will be dating the lead of the fictional TV series she writes for. Other big names involved with the series include The Kids Are All Right director Lisa Cholodenko, who is set to direct the first two episodes, and Brothers & Sisters writer John Robin Baitz, who is writing the miniseries.
While a slap might seem like a gimmicky starting point for a family drama, it’s the sort of storyline that has worked for NBC in the past. The network has tackled a similar issue before in another of its family-based dramas. Several seasons ago on Parenthood, one of the lead characters hit a man in line at a store after he made some derogatory remarks about his autistic kid. That incident still came up in subsequent seasons and provided a memorable storyline to tie in with all of the relationship drama and fuzzy feelings fans have come to relate to that series. I haven’t seen the Australian series The Slap is based on, but it seems like the slap could have the same function in the miniseries.
The only thing I’m a little sad about is that The Slap has a definite end point. I’m sure the story will be told much more compactly in 8 hours, but I think many people would be happy to see Mary-Louse Parker back on TV in a more permanent gig.