Family Bonds (review)

There’s a gritty authenticity to this rough-edged reality show: instead of letting viewers rubberneck on the bizarre personal disasters of the rich or the weird (or the rich and the weird), here we’re voyeurs peeking in on an ordinary American family behind the typical closed doors — actual and metaphoric — that protect us all from public scrutiny. Their work is a little unusual, sure — the Evangelistas run a bail-bonds and bounty-hunting outfit — and they may be a bit tougher than their Long Island neighbors (Evangelistas guys and gals alike tend to favor tattoos and piercings in intimate places), but their domestic squabbles and intimacies will be startlingly familiar to many middle-class American. From parents bickering over how best to teach their son how to ride a bike to the wives’ frank conversations about keeping their husbands sexually satisfied, this HBO series goes where few American TV shows have before: into the psyches and everyday lives of modern regular folks. Warts and all, this is an extraordinary portrait that illuminates its subjects in sometimes less than flattering ways without ever denigrating them. Extras include audio commentary by the director and extra video conversations with the Evangelistas.

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