“Casual” is one of the best shows that no one is watching. The refreshingly modern comedy came back even stronger in its second season. While the sophomore series has been recognized with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Comedy, we’re still trying to figure out how the Hulu original series was overlooked for an Emmy nom.
While the subject matter of “Casual” was much darker in Season 2, the show never lost its quick wit. The brutally honest portrayal of how modern technology effects people’s every day lives and relationships consistently delivers the laughs.
This recent 13-episode-run goes down like a baker’s dozen of chocolate chip cookies. Watch just one half-hour and within two days, you’ll have scarfed them all down.
The Acting — A +
The cast is a tour de force of actors that can make the most devastating situations absolutely hilarious. Tommy Dewey as Alex Cole steals every scene as the narcissistic, yet likable, man-child. Tara Lynn Barr plays Laura, the rebellious teenager, with just the right amount of that no-care flare.
And then there’s Michaela Watkins. The fact that she hasn’t been recognized for her work as Valerie Myers is insane. Her ability at capturing conflicting emotions, without ever speaking a word, is mesmerizing.. It’s in everything she does — checks her phone, eats a donut or even shuts her off for a moment of privacy … Watkins is simply captivating.
The ribbon theme of death — A+
“Casual” has presented its overall story with a single theme that has played out in so many different ways — with so many different results for each character. What’s even more-so impressive is that this comedy chose the regularly unfunny theme of death. That’s a pretty difficult subject to squeeze laughter from yet the show pulled it off.
Laura and Spencer (Rhenyz Feliz) going coffin shopping was somehow adorable and romantic. Charles Cole (Fred Melamed) seeking an assisted suicide from his family, as to not be a burden, was both frustrating and saddening at first, but turned into a heartwarming scenario. In addition, Laura’s emotional transformation — after the death of her grandfather — gave the season an uplifting end.
Creative breaks — A
While it is technically a half-hour comedy, “Casual” is in no way a sit-com. The series made a few unexpected breaks from the normal format during Season 1 — those dream sequences being a fun example. And then in Season 2, Lehmann opened up an episode with a musical vignette starring Leon. Reminiscent of the opening of Pixar’s “Up,” viewers were able to catch up on the poor sap’s life.
Dewey was also a huge fan of this break in storytelling. “I absolutely loved it,” he tells Zap2it. “And the piece that Mateo Messina composed for it was perfect. One of the great things about moving deeper into a series is that you can include elements like that without sacrificing the core aesthetic of the show.”
The use of modern technology — A
Another way Season 2 excelled past Season 1 was in the way the series stopped focusing solely on online dating. The spectrum was broadened to explore how modern technology effects every kind of relationship, not just those of the sexual nature. How and when to text, the anticipation of when to send said message, or how to edit it down … it’s a constant, very real life issue that’s prevalent while communicating with anyone and everyone.
Even though Dewey’s character created a dating app — who is pretty much the master of online communication — he’s somewhat technically inept in real life. “I’m the slowest texter on the planet,” Dewey admits. “I use a single index finger And for no good reason, I go to great pains to craft a grammatically perfect text. Beyond that, I’m about as tech savvy as Valerie.”
Laura and Spencer — B+
Mirroring her mother and uncle, this relationship felt a bit familiar. Laura was fascinated with the idea of a relationship that had no future. Thusly, she was only able to commit to it fully because she knew there was an expiration date. And once the expiration date was lifted, she wanted out. Cue: freakout.
We could’ve done without that experimental lesbian relationship. It was more fun to see Laura have a positive female friendship in her life. Plus, Spencer’s reaction to being dumped bumped this whole storyline up from B- to a B+. Once again showing the teenagers on this series miles ahead maturity-wise than any of the adults, Spencer doesn’t waste his breath asking Laura for a reason. He simply moves on.
After everything he’s been though, Spencer knows all too well that life is too short to waste it on someone who’s so emotionally stunted. Even though it killed him inside, his grown-up decision is something she’d never see from her uncle or mother. With that said, we hope we’ll see more Spencer in Season 3. Laura obviously needs him.