Family Law Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Sins of the Father

TV

We love a good show about redemption and recovery.

Family Law Season 1 Episode 1 explored alcoholic Abigail Bianchi’s (Jewel Staite) road to recovery after she hit rock bottom and her humiliation went viral.

To make matters worse, she had to work at her estranged father Harry’s (Victor Garber) law firm for one year as a probationary period and work with her half-siblings, Daniel and Lucy.

Dysfunctional families and recovering alcoholics on the way to recovery are common themes in TV shows. There was something similar in Freeform’s Single Drunk Female when Samantha had to live with a relative and attend mandatory AA meetings after a drunken viral incident.

While Family Law focuses primarily on a dysfunctional family handling family law cases, it’s also about Abigail’s journey to becoming sober and making amends to her family.

So far, she hasn’t taken her AA meetings seriously and seems to view them as a chore or a joke, referring to herself as a “schmalcoholic.”

Abigail wants people to think she’s tough, but she has this soft underbelly, especially regarding wanting her family back.

When Abigail talked to her son Nico on the phone was the first time we realized she was separated from her children. My heart broke for her, especially when her teenage daughter, Sofia, refused to talk to her.

Abigail felt like everything had been taken away from her — her job, her family, and especially her kids.

She wanted to be “mom” and see them more often.

Like most children, her son, Nico, was curious about the new family members.

Unfortunately, Abigail hated feeling indebted to anyone or out of control.

She’s been a lawyer for years, so it’s embarrassing to accept menial tasks from her estranged father or overhear that her half-siblings don’t want her there.

Abigail: Are we done?
Harry: Isn’t there something you’d like to say to me first?
Abigail: No, not that I can think of.
Harry: No other lawyer in town would touch you, not even your old firm.
Abigail: What do you want me to say?
Harry: How about thank you, Dad?

Right away, Abigail lands on her feet, even if it annoys her siblings. She relates a teen named Rosie who wants to sue her mom to learn more about her biological dad.

I can’t stand my dad, but I at least know who he is.

Abigail

Like many teens, Rosie longs to know her identity, and it’s amusing some of her worries, such as marrying into the family or passing on a genetic flaw. However, these are real things teens worry about.

To Lucy’s horror, Rosie bonds with Abigail and asks Abigail to talk to her mom too.

Lucy is more diplomatic and understanding, but the sisters learn that Rosie’s mom had a one-night stand with a man named Mark and never saw him again. Abigail is determined to find him.

When Abigail became cynical about men, Lucy tried to bond with her, asking why she hated Harry. That didn’t go over well since it soon became apparent that Lucy was the favored child that spent the most time with Harry growing up.

I kept rooting for Abigail as she ambushed people to get information. She’s abrasive, but she gets the job done. 

She quickly learned that Mark, Rosie’s dad, was a developer, and she delivered the news Jerry Springer style.

Though Harry was horrified by how she delivered the news, he admitted he ran off when mom announced she was pregnant.

Which mom?

All the kids

After adjusting to the news, Mark and his wife, Yvonne, throw themselves into parenting Rosie. They are so excited about it and spend so much money on her that it makes Jeanette uncomfortable.

Abigail starts projecting and empathizing with her about how hard it is to raise a daughter alone and have someone swoop in and take it away.

When Abigail suggests suing Mark for back child support, all Harry sees is dollars for the firm.

Lucy hates the idea so much, and she and Abigail squabble like kids that Harry tells them they sound like kindergarteners.

Lucy: I didn’t know what to expect from Abby. I didn’t expect sunshine and rainbows, but I didn’t expect her to be such a colossal bitch.
Daniel: She’s a ticking time bomb. If she goes off around us, we’ll be collateral damage.

For once, Harry stood up for his eldest daughter, and Abigail got a win.

She was always to be co-counsel with Harry. She soon learned it was more complicated than she thought.

Her husband was defending Mark, and the judge was a fan of her dad’s and wouldn’t stand for her bringing personal history into the courtroom.

The worst thing was when Rosie blew up, saying she didn’t care about the money and only wanted to know her father.

Before they met up, we didn’t know if Abigail and her husband were on good terms. Frank loves his wife and wants her to get better to ensure their children are safe.

Abigail: I miss you. I miss the kids. I’d really like to come home.
Frank: Not yet, honey.

He deeply regrets having an affair, but he also says that her drinking loomed over their marriage. It’s why their daughter is so angry.

Since her family life was a mess, Abigail realized she was projecting some of it onto Jeanette and Rosie. That was a huge step in taking amends and impressed her husband enough that he made their daughter go to the next visitation.

Teenage daughters are never fun, but sometimes they must be reminded that everyone screws up, and even family deserves a second chance. Hopefully, Abigail will give Harry one too.

The series premiere did a great job setting up the characters. So far, the legal cases resonate with Abigail’s personal life, and hopefully, we’ll see some issues that resonate with Daniel and Lucy too.

Harry seems old-school and money motivated, so I’m curious if it’ll be a legal case or family issue that will make him crack.

This series is a fun concept of having a dysfunctional family practice family law. Part of the fun of dysfunctional families is understanding why they are flawed and fixing those relationships.

Hopefully, that will be a slow journey as the pieces fit together.

Over to you, Family Law Fanatics. Were you excited to see Victor Garber and Jewel Staite back on-screen? What do you hope to see in Abigail’s road to recovery?

How soon do you hope the family forges stronger relationships? Chime in below in the comments.

You could watch Family Law online via TV Fanatic if you miss an episode.

Family Law airs at 8/7c on Sundays on The CW.

Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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