I’ll admit, Casual snuck up on me. The Hulu comedy – about recently divorced single mom Valerie (Michela Watkins) and her teenage daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr), who move in with her adult brother Alex (Tommy Dewey) – appeared on the scene last fall and, at first glance, seemed to be a bit of lightweight fun. (I blame the title.) But as anyone who watched its first excellent and Golden Globe-nominated season knows (and honestly, if you haven’t watched it yet you really should stop reading now and go binge it), Casual is actually anything but. It is melancholic and fearless as it plunges into the murky depths of love and siblings and childhood scars and sex and dating and parenting and divorce and being a teenager and finding yourself adrift in midlife. And oh yeah, it is very, very funny.
The second season picks up pretty much right where the first left off: Alex and Valerie are in a weird place – what with her sabotaging his new relationship in the most unexpected of ways – and she is left feeling friendless and lost. Laura has decided not to return to high school after her sex tape fiasco, and Alex, who is still nursing his bruised and battered heart, now has a job crisis to contend with along with other surprises I certainly won’t spoil.
The acting is fantastic across the board and the writing consistently sharp and irreverent. Creator Zander Lehmann and executive producer Jason Reitman (who directs the first two episodes of the season) never take easy shortcuts when it comes to displaying the depths of neurosis these three dysfunctional family members share.
There’s a couple of fantastic new characters and directors (hip hip hooray for Lynn Shelton, Marielle Heller, and Karyn Kusama!), but it’s always Valerie, Laura, and Alex you’ll want to spend your time with. Reitman wrote that the core of Casual, “comes down to a single provocative question: What if your soulmate were your sibling?”
We hope there’s many more seasons ahead to answer that question. A-