Early on, we knew the first series of The Family Law would have a nice clean story arc. Jenny and Danny – after an apocalyptic fight – would separate at the start of a long hot Queensland summer. We’d follow them through the “will they/won’t they” question of divorce, before the family eventually discovered families come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes parents work better apart – like my actual family did (although it was, you know, roughly 3,058,209 percent more brutal in real life). Danny would pursue his dream of starting a business solo, Jenny would go to explore her own dreams and Benjamin would be OK with his parents’ split. Simple, right? Yeah nah.
Coming into series two, the writing team had one obvious question in mind: since when has divorce ever been simple? If series one was all about a nuclear family falling apart, series two would look at the realities of how a post-nuclear family works (or doesn’t). As anyone with divorced parents would know, fighting doesn’t stop just because your parents stop living together. And with any post-nuclear scenario, there’s always the risk of toxic fallout.
We decided to pick up the story right where we left off, with the kids going back to school after the summer holidays. We’ve got all the same actors playing the same characters. And our producers, writers and new director Ben Chessell are all working with the same promise to the audience – yes, we promise to make you laugh, but only after we’ve done our best to make you cry.
But the situations the Laws wrestle with in series two are fundamentally different this time around, and arguably trickier. After the thrill of finding a new partner (like Danny does), how do you navigate the minefield of introducing her to your ex-wife and kids? Now that you’ve chosen to marry each other (like Candy and Wayne), how do you make room for in-laws the rest of your family mightn’t even like? And what happens when striving for your dreams (like Benjamin does) ends in embarrassment and disaster?
As for Jenny, life post-divorce is as exciting as it is confronting. As she discovers, “fresh starts” and “new beginnings” aren’t so simple when you come with so much history. And it’s not always easy to define your identity outside of being a wife and mother when that’s all you’ve been doing for decades. And when you’ve been raising multiple children at home for so long, making new friends can be heartbreakingly hard.
What we’ve made in series two is a portrait of a family doing their best to find their place in the world, to reinvent and redefine themselves, and discovering in the process that change can be monumentally hard, whether you’re a kid, teenager or adult. Welcome back to the Law Family v2.0.
The Family Law airs on SBS every Thursday night at 8:30pm. New episodes and the entire first season are streaming now via SBS On Demand: