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Review of “A Stranger Among Family” Series

The series A Stranger Among Family is a project concerned with telling the story of an unusual family in which the protagonist is a teenager. The series is narrated in third person, concentrating on the character, exposing him gradually and focusing on the difficult moral and social situation of the boy. There are only seven episodes in the series. The pilot episode first shows the unhurried plot, introducing the characters, and then the subsequent episodes, with increasing dynamics and shorter running time, fully immerse the viewer in the epicenter of emotionally vivid events with an intriguing hint of a controversial final denouement. Each successive episode flies by instantly, leaving behind an unquenchable desire to see the next. And due to the quality of the play and the actors’ good acting the overall impression of the series becomes extremely positive, where seemingly another family drama raising the eternal problems of fathers and children is eventually perceived as something important and necessary, where everybody is sure to find something interesting for themselves.

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A family with many children, having decided to adopt a problem child, undergoes a stage of the most difficult trials, in the mess of which the only child of the parents with no sense of belonging experiences it on his own skin. The father of everything that is happening around him withdraws into himself, fearing an involuntary emotional outburst, watching from the sidelines as a concerned wife, continues to adopt new children, while forgetting about the others. The homemaker is like a little girl who can’t get enough of being a mother-daughter. Children for her, like dolls, which at first she wants to actively play with, but then, quickly played with, loses interest and looking for another for a new pastime, seeing in it the most important meaning in life. And everything would be all right, but blinded by a strange love, the mother does not see the problem under her own nose, where her own son feels abandoned, alien and unnecessary. More and more estranged from his family, he ends up looking for love on the side in a circle of strangers. Wishing to speak out, he chooses a scene where, through the prism of sarcastic humor as a stand-up comedian, he shares his innermost thoughts about his life, as if taking revenge on the abusers and at the same time crying about what is troubling. For the young hero of the scene becomes almost a personal diary, where he pours out his heart in the hope to find at least some response and understanding, because in real life, he literally has no one to talk to. As a result, the confused little boy finds himself all alone in the cruel adult world, where any rash move can turn into a terrible tragedy.

In the center of the story is a schoolboy who dreams of becoming a successful stand-up comedian, and he has all the makings despite his young age. The kid’s performances go over well, because the monologues are based on his personal experience – he talks about his unusual family. His parents are obsessed with saving all the children in the world and are adopting their fourth child. This makes character feel unwanted in his own family, a stranger and abandoned. While his mom and dad give interviews here and there and gradually become media personalities, hero is pouring out his emotions on the club stages. The 15-year-old high-schooler doesn’t like to spend his evenings in his own apartment, where his parents and two foster brothers and sister live. Instead, the boy rolls his skateboard to a standup club because standup is a space of freedom and abstraction. Soon there is a change in the hero’s life, and the reason is that having adopted another child, the parents will move the boy from his own room to the kitchen, to a cot. And in standup club, not at the first or second attempt, he will dare to go on stage and give a raw 5-minute monologue. It seems like nothing special, but it’s the little things that make up growing up.

The series has several advantages and surprises for the viewer. First, it is the speech, in the vast majority of TV shows they talk either subtly bland, or mannerly, or just very unsophisticated. In series A Stranger Among Family, the characters will talk like they do in real life, and this is not idle flattery. Parasitic words will not be cut out by the editors; some meanings will be eaten up by overly unintelligible mumbling by the actors, and some, on the contrary, will be created by barely perceptible interjections. To perceive the endless dialogues (between family members, classmates, stand-up comedians), character have to work constantly, he cannot watch in the background. This approach to dialogue, their writing and pronunciation will be a novelty for viewers accustomed to watching pictures with a professional voice or dubbing. The fact is that the key goal of series as a structure is to entice viewers to watch the entire product from episode to episode. One of the most effective ways to achieve such loyalty is to intentionally create a familiar and relevant on-screen atmosphere. In other words, it is as if the audience is in their own environment and not abstracted from the characters. This, in turn, makes them both feel for the specific characters and see themselves from the outside.

When speech is already the focus of artistic attention, it is logical to make stand-up comedy, the most conversational of the creative genres, the main character. Standup here becomes not only the main means of communication between a teenager and the world, but also a source of conflict and insurmountable communication barriers. Already in the first scenes of the pilot, the hero’s performance will be interrupted by hecklers – that is, by the audience shouting from the audience and disrupting the show (Shouse & Oppliger, 2020). This will be caused by some uninspired joke that will resonate with the audience.

Both at home and at school, the teenager also faces a kind of heckling. At school he gets into verbal altercations first with the teacher and then with the bullies: the teacher and the bullies seem to be in an unspoken alliance. The family dinner resembles a roast – everyone, of course, loves each other, but a word in the pocket: at some point, the meal turns into a debate on the silliest topics, which must win, because, otherwise, punishment will follow. The new child in the family turns out to be difficult, to say the least, and again the language becomes a weapon: he so mothers the adoptive mother that any stand-up comedian would be embarrassed. Speech becomes an obstacle not only in adolescent life: say, behind the closed doors of the parents’ bedroom, every awkward phrase is fraught with discord.

For a teenager, self-expression in a standup is not an end in itself, but only a staging post on the way to escape the pain of dialogue. He achieves maximum peace not on stage, but during musical montages with skateboard rides and silent cuts of after-parties with comedians. One can only dream about how happy everyone would be if our world did not have this language at all. This also predetermines the main idea of the script, the essence of which is to convey to the audience the idea of the need for a healthy dialogue in the family. The point is that normal and constant communication will not give rise to a gap between children and their parents, will not allow the child to feel superfluous. This idea should be disseminated to viewers of different ages in order to reinforce the principle of constant dialogue among family members.

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In the end, this series is ideal for streaming on the Internet, and less so for television. The fact is that the target audience of this product is assumed to be schoolchildren and teenagers, because the atmosphere of the series corresponds to the modern social situation and is devoted mainly to the problems of teenagers. The younger generation, for the most part, prefers to watch series on the Internet on a variety of platforms, such as Netflix. Therefore it makes sense to sign contracts and promote the project directly with streaming services.

Reference

Shouse, E. and Oppliger, P. A. (Ed.). (2020). The dark side of stand-up comedy. Springer International Publishing.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Review of “A Stranger Among Family” Series." October 23, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/review-of-a-stranger-among-family-series/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Review of “A Stranger Among Family” Series'. 23 October.

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