If you watched last night's premiere of NBC's eight-episode miniseries "The Slap" expecting to see a controversial show about a man hitting someone else's kid, you got so much more. This program is chock full of hot-button issues—maybe too full. The first episode also introduces infidelity, May-December romances, prescription drug use, alcohol use, breastfeeding an older child, political and class debates, overbearing in-laws, lackluster parenting, and screen-addicted kids. Whew!
As the show built up to the pivotal moment of "the slap," we see little Hugo being a holy terror, destroying a record collection, throwing an iPad, ripping up a flower bed, and generally being a brat without his parents doing anything to discipline him. In fact, his mom, Rosie, just shoves a boob in his mouth any time he gets out of control, even though Hugo seems to be about four or five. I find that a bit old for still being breast-fed, but to each her own; what's more concerning is the way she uses it. I'm overall not thrilled with the way Rosie is portrayed as a mom, either. It's so stereoptypical that the "bohemian" mom still breastfeeds her older kid, gets drunk at the party, and seems intent on protecting her son's "free spirit" despite how destructive his behavior is. Bohemians can be good moms, too!
In any case, Hugo is set up to be a nightmare child, but I actually found the scene where he gets slapped to be sort of a letdown. The premise seems to be that Harry, an adult dad, is scared that Hugo is about to hit his kid in the head with a baseball bat. It just didn't seem like such a close call to me, so Harry's intense reaction seems out of proportion. And when Hugo kicks Harry in the shin for making him stop swinging the bat, it's just comical because Hugo is so little and Harry is so big. I don't think that would really make a man slap a child. We later hear that Harry may have some deeper issues, but still.
In the end, the whole thing just seems ridiculous and clearly Harry is wrong for slapping Hugo. Does someone need to discipline Hugo? Yes. Can you discipline a child who isn't your own? Yes, if the kid's parents are doing nothing and the kid is a danger to himself, others, or even things. Can you hit someone else's kid? Hell no! Can you hit your own kid? No. I just can't think of a situation in which I think that would be the only or best way to discipline a kid, and "The Slap" didn't even come close to setting up that situation.
Plus, all the people on this show seem really messed up. I thought it might be juicy drama-rama TV, but I'm afraid I'm just going to find all these characters exhausting and annoying. I can actually envision some situations in which these adults could use a good slap. That I would like to see.
Ellen Sturm Niz is a New York City-based writer who has never slapped anyone but is thinking about adding it to her bucket list—but in a "How I Met Your Mother" Slapsgiving kind of way. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.