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Series / The Slap

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The Slap is a critically acclaimed novel written by Christos Tsiolkas in 2008, which was adapted by The ABC into a television mini-series in 2011 with an American adaptation aired by NBC in February 2015.

The story, set in the suburbs of Melbourne (New York in the American version), follows the lives of a group of people after they witness a man slapping someone else's child at a party. The single act is so divisive, that a family and life-long friends are torn apart by interwoven loyalties, and the result is not pretty.

The book has won or been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Man Booker Prize 2010, and Commonwealth Writers Prize 2009 (in the latter case it won Best Book).

Not to be confused with a tie-in website to the Nickelodeon teen-comedy Victorious.


  • Adaptational Nice Guy: While the Aussie miniseries ended with Hugh as much of a brat as ever, the US one does show him having gotten a little bit better by the end though wheter this is due to Rosie's influence is unclear.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Those on Harry's side aren't wrong that Hugo was being a ill-tempered Spoiled Brat who was swinging a bat around that could've hurt someone; those on Hugo's side make a valid point that it wasn't Harry's place to discipline someone else's child, especially if it's slapping a child in the face, especially after he already took the bat away from the kid, although it was probably a reflex to having been kicked in the shin. Similarly, Harry is absolutely right that Hugo's parents make almost no effort to discipline or reign him in, no matter how horribly he behaves, and Rosie and Gary are right that it's not Harry's place to do so, especially when it involves violent behavior.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Harry is found guilty of attempted assault of a minor in the third degree, but the judge sentences him to time already served, saying that spending time at Riker's Island would not make any difference to him. Gary and Rosie don't win either. The judge tells the parents that Child Protective Services will visit them, and if Hugo hurts someone or gets hurt, they will be held responsible for it. On the brighter side, Connie and Ritchie leave for college, and Anouk's friends gather at her home to welcome her new baby.
  • Bumbling Dad: Played for drama. Hector is a vice-riddled man who has no idea how to manage his own children, leaving it to his wife as much as possible.
  • Domestic Abuse:
    • The child who is slapped - the reader/viewer is left to consider; was the slap abusive, was the child's Hands-Off Parenting upbringing abusive, or both? Other, less controversial examples are also present.
    • This is also Harry's big secret: he cheats on his wife and abuses her and is also a cocaine addict. What's worse is that Hector and Aisha knew and their own marriage buckles. In fact, Rosie and Aisha's friendship is destroyed over this.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: Played With: The series asks what would happen if someone else physically assaulted your child.
  • Double Standard: Violence, Child on Adult: The series thoroughly deconstructs this from several angles. Spoiled Brat Hugo is cheating at cricket at a family barbecue, causing a fight with the other children and lashing out with a cricket bat. When Harry, the father of one of the children, steps in to stop it, Hugo kicks him hard on the shin, and Harry responds with a hard slap across the face. The whole of the rest of the plot deals with the ramifications to the various family and friends who get dragged into the ensuing hostilities between Harry and the boy's Beloved Smother.
  • Fatal Flaw: Harry's bad temper is his. The entire series could've been avoided were he able to control his anger better.
  • Fille Fatale: Connie may be only 17, but she was conducting an affair with Hector. She feels mildly guilty at first because Aisha is her boss, but she refuses to back off even after Hector decides to end it. Her anger at Hector ending their affair leads her to lie to her best friend Richie that Hector raped her, which only brings more trouble and ruin to Hector's family. Then it turns out she turns her affections towards another teenager at school, quickly forgets about Hector, and still has no idea how much destruction her lie brought.
  • Gayngst: Richie is struggling to come to terms with the fact that he's gay and in love with his classmate Nick. His anonymous harassment of Hector only further confuses his obsession with him.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Anouk averted this in the Australian version, but played straight in the American version.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Both sides of the conflict have their good and bad sides and deserving of sympathy to some extent. Hugo is unquestionably an awful brat but he's still just a kid who hasn't yet learned to control his emotions and whose parents refuse to teach him how to do so. Gary and Rosie are deeply flawed people and Rosie in particular seems more focused on how to spin the situation in her own favor than what's best for Hugo but they are still parents defending their child and who aren't wrong that Harry crossed a line. Harry meanwhile is a bigoted jerk with a bad temper but he's also a parent who felt he was just defending his own son and is shown throughout as having redeeming traits, including being a good father to Rocco and being capable of kindness to others and even privately being ashamed of how he acted. No one is completely good or evil. This is all lampshaded by Aisha:
    "I think hitting a child is a reprehensible action. I also think that Hugo needed to be disciplined that day, that he was totally out of control. I think Harry has a dangerous temper which he should learn to control. But he apologised and I think Gary and Rosie should have accepted the apology and left it at that. No one has behaved very well in any of this."
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Harry, to the point of it being his biggest issue and cause of all of his woes.
  • Hands-Off Parenting: Rosie's way of parenting Hugo is to let him do whatever he wants. Harry dislikes the idea, and it's implied that while Gary actually doesn't agree, he doesn't want to speak up.
  • Henpecked Husband: Gary to Rosie. He doesn't necessarily like her parenting style any more than Harry does and is willing to overlook what happened as simply an unfortunate incident where Harry lost his temper and apologized. But Rosie refuses to listen to him and charges on with her campaign against Harry.
  • Hot-Blooded: Harry. It strongly overlaps with Hair-Trigger Temper as his actions stem from acting out without thinking.
  • Inciting Incident: Harry slapping Hugo. A lot of the other issues that come up have presumably been bubbling away for ages, but it's the tension and family disharmony caused by the slap that make them blow up.
  • Interrupted Suicide: After he's humiliated at Aisha's clinic, Richie takes an intentional overdose of sleeping pills. His mom intervenes just in time to take him to the hospital to pump out his stomach.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Harry may be a bastard, but considering that Hugo was about to hit a kid with a cricket bat, he's pretty justified in wanting to do something about it. Slapping him might not have been the best idea, though, and especially not when the bat had already been taken away (as it harms his defence in court). Anouk even tells Harry that although she felt that Hugo deserved to get disciplined, she firmly believes she's in no position to get involved in the mess.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Harry. As bad-tempered, bigoted and generally abrasive as he can be, he does have a softer side, is capable of kindness and adores his son.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Hector's mother seems extremely keen to belittle Aisha by indirect means. This seems somewhat centered around the fact that Aisha is not Greek. One example is the mother hijacking the couple's already-planned holiday by making the holiday in Greece with 'family' instead, seems imbued with the implication that if only Aisha was Greek such issues would not be a problem.
  • Mama Bear: Rosie, after Harry slaps Hugo. Not an especially positive portrayal though as she goes way overboard in reacting, a fact even Gary calls her out on.
  • Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal: Rosie seems to have a firm belief that Hugo - a notorious brat who has an established reputation for being an incredibly obnoxious out-of-control bully at the age of four - is her sweet little baby angel in a big bad world that either doesn't understand him or is out to get him. Even when she has solid evidence of Hugo being in the wrong for something, she always tries to find someone or something else to pin the blame on.
  • Mrs. Robinson: Anouk's relationship with Rhys.
  • My Beloved Smother: Despite Hugo being an unbearable little terror, Rosie mollycoddles and babies him right down the the point of breastfeeding him at four years old.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: A mild case with Manolis and Koula towards Aisha. They tolerate her for Hector's sake, but clearly make it known that they do not approve of her as their daughter-in-law. Averted for Manolis in the novel, as he repeatedly defends Aisha to Koula, pointing out she's been a wonderful wife to Hector.
  • Papa Wolf: Harry sees himself as this as he does genuinely love his son, and believed he was protecting his kid from being hit by Hugo.
  • Pet the Dog: Harry's affectionate scene with his son.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Harry definitely has aspects of this, though The Slap isn't a show where any character is set up as a hero or villain.
  • Race Lift: in the book Aisha is Indian-Australian, in the miniseries she is Mauritian-Australian. The seductive bloke who was Asian-Canadian in the book becomes a Latino-Australian.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The events in the book are explored through the perspective of several different characters.
  • Rejected Apology: A few days after the incident, Harry (at Hector's behest) tries to apologize to Rosie and Gary at their house for said slap, but the couple not only refuse to accept it but also accuse him of hitting his wife or child. This only angers Harry.
  • Serious Business: A child is slapped once. It tears a family apart. While several characters point out it wasn't that bad, the drama that unfolds is largely based more on the events that take off afterwards because of it, rather than the actual slap itself.
  • Spoiled Brat: Hugo. So, so much. At one point, he actually spits at an old man who has done absolutely nothing to him, and his mother's response is to assume said old man startled her child. Depressingly, this is in the last chapter/episode, leaving the reader/viewer with the realisation that she has learned nothing from the experience.
    • Surprisingly, in the final minutes of the series finale of the US miniseries, it appears that Rosie has learned a lesson as Hugo is noticeably more well-behaved than when he was first on-screen
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Rosie gives one to Harry and receives one from Bilal.
    • The Judge at the end of the American mini-series delivers one to the characters (telling Harry that spending time at Riker's Island would not make any difference on him and warning Rosie and Gary not to walk off smug because she is going to send CPS to visit them and if Hugo hurts someone or gets hurt, they will be held responsible) and tells them off for wasting her time when there are more important cases at stake (like the rape of a 9 year old girl).
    "So go home and count your damn blessings, and get out of my courtroom."
  • Time Skip: Episode 5 of the miniseries is set about two months after the previous one.
  • Womanchild: Rosie often behaves like one whenever she gets upset, having tantrums like a Spoiled Brat.