By Lillian Firth
The new ABC show “The Family” is for lovers of mystery and suspense. The thriller, which aired on Thursday, March 3, and will run through the rest of the month, will keep you guessing about a mysterious disappearance throughout its drama-packed episodes. The show has many complex layers and definitely does not follow a one-dimensional plotline — it features characters that all have different yet intersecting issues. It also highlights every human flaw imaginable: lying, kidnapping, framing, infidelity, suspected murder, mistaken identities and intense family fighting. “The Family” will keep you invested from the start.
The plot starts as something we’ve all watched before — the picture-perfect suburban family with three happy kids and loving parents enjoying a picnic. The parents are busy with mother Claire Warren’s (played by Oscar-nominee Joan Allen) Senate campaign. The older children, Danny and Willa, are in charge of watching younger brother Adam, but of course, he goes missing while under their supervision.
This is where the plot strays from expectations. Now, 10 years after his disappearance, Adam returns, damaged after being tortured for 10 years and, even worse, returning to a family who believed he had been murdered.
Many questions now emerge: Who has been keeping him captive? How did he come back after all these years? And the worst question yet: Is it really Adam? It’s up to the viewer to pick up on the subtle clues the show presents. Each episode reveals more and more, but still teases the viewer with clues and turns.
The characters are relatable and realistic. Claire is trying hard to keep her family together but is overcome by her devastating emotions, has countless breakdowns and fights with her husband John, evidently pushing him away. John lashes out at everyone and buries his grief into cheating on his wife. The oldest son, Danny, drinks himself into a stupor every night and separates himself from his family, trying to escape the guilt he feels for his negligence. Willa buries herself in her work, managing her mother’s campaign for governor, pushing hard for her to win even when it is not good for the grief-stricken family. Adam is mostly quiet in his return, haunted by his rape and torture over the years. He chooses to sleep in his closet because the enclosed space reminds him of the pit he lived in while captured, which now oddly comforts him.
Then there is the neighbor, Hank, who secretly spent time with Adam before his disappearance, where he showed him how to make ship bottle models and genuinely loved him like a son. He is an odd, quiet man and Adam was very special to him because he saw past his awkward appearance. Hank was framed for Adam’s supposed murder, however, and spent 10 years in prison before it was revealed that Adam is still alive. Hank is more quiet than ever after living in the harsh conditions of the prison, angry with the accusations pinned on him.
Only four episodes have aired and each one of them has been captivating. The characters are intriguing, and the mysterious plotline itself is enough to keep viewers coming back. I would recommend it to any lovers of mystery and suspense. If these first few episodes are anything to go by, I suspect the rest of the season will be just as chilling with many cliffhangers and nail-biting scenes. “The Family” delivers a mystery that will definitely be discussed as it continues this month.