Let’s be honest: If you tuned in to the premiere of Family Law on The CW on Sunday, it’s probably 99.9% because of TV fan faves Jewel Staite and Victor Garber.
Staite is best known for Firefly, but her role/performance on the imported Canadian legal drama is more akin to her character on The LA Complex than sweet Kaylee. The actress stars as Abigail Bianchi, a personal injury lawyer, whom we first meet while she’s passed out in her car on the side of the road. Abigail shows up late to court, visibly drunk, and pukes all over the place.
Cut to three months later, and Abigail now has to attend AA meetings and can only practice law under the supervision of a senior lawyer. Her own firm bailed on her and no one else will take a chance on her — except for one lawyer: her dad, Harry Svensson (Legends of Tomorrow’s Victor Garber). But this isn’t a warm and fuzzy father-daughter moment, because Harry has his own conditions for taking on Abigail, who’s been estranged from her father for 30 years.
Harry walked out on Abigail and her mother when she was just seven, after he knocked up her half-brother Daniel’s mom. Then he went on to marry her half-sister Lucy’s mom. Now, Daniel (The Expanse’s Zach Smadu) and Lucy (Warehouse 13’s Genelle Williams) are both employees at Harry’s family law firm, which means Abigail is working alongside her siblings that she’s never met before, and no one really likes each other. Abigail looks down on Daniel and Lucy, professionally, and when Lucy tells Abigail that her mom passed away, Abigail responds, “He would have left her, too — if your mom hadn’t died.” So when Lucy later describes Abigail as “a colossal bitch” to Daniel, it’s kind of warranted.
Abigail’s home life isn’t much better. She’s staying with her piece-of-work mom (NCIS’ Lauren Holly), who drinks in front of her daughter (“My house, my rules”) and refers to Daniel and Lucy as Abigail’s “rainbow-colored siblings.” Abigail is also separated from her husband Frank (Hemlock Grove’s Luke Camilleri), a family law lawyer who cheated on her, and she doesn’t get to see her kids much, especially her daughter, who doesn’t want to talk to her.
When Abigail helps a client sue a now-wealthy one-night stand who answered her “sperm wanted” ad for 13 years of retroactive child support, she comes up against her husband in court as opposing counsel. Harry is thrilled at the potential income the case could bring in, but Abigail has a change of heart when she realizes she’s using the case to work out her own family issues. So she and Frank come to a reasonable compromise, much to Harry’s dismay.
Abigail tells Frank that she wants to come home, but he says not yet. He argues that her drinking overtook their marriage long before he cheated that one time. But he does push her daughter to visit Abigail, and as the episode ends, we see what Abigail’s heart-shaped tattoo on her chest reads: Frannie, Sophia (her daughter’s name) and Nic (her son). Hmm, did a loss lead to the start of Abigail’s drinking problems?
What did you think of Family Law? Grade it below, then hit the comments!
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