TV Club

This was a stellar year for second-season comedies, from Broad City to Transparent.

This was a stellar year for second-season comedies.

Round 2, Entry 3 in TV Club 2015, by Margaret Lyons
Last Man on Earth, Transparent, and Broad City

Photo illustration by Slate. Images courtesy of Comedy Central, Amazon Studios, and FOX Broadcasting Co.

The biggest turn-around for me this year was The Leftovers, though we’ve surely praised that one enough at this point. I liked this season of Halt and Catch Fire much more than Season 1, but I don’t think it made the leap to great just yet.

I did see some tremendous sophomore seasons from shows I loved in their first outings, especially comedies. Broad City made my top 10, but I don’t think enough good things can be said about that show. Sometimes shows lose a little bit of their goofy independence, particularly after such a widely discussed first season, but I thought this one stayed as loose and imaginative as ever, without being repetitive or stalling out. “Wisdom Teeth” will stay with me all the rest of my days, and I am glad for it. Playing House is a show I loved from the get-go, and this season packed one of the best rom-coms in decades into a 20-minute episode. I need Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair to write a rom-com feature for Keegan Michael Key right now. It is an emergency.

BoJack Horseman had me in actual tears of sorrow within the first minute of Season 2, and that show continued to delight me with its incredibly high standards for jokes and to stun me with the heights of its dramatic arcs. Jane the Virgin too seems like it should or could have burned through all its ideas in Season 1, but I think Season 2 has kept up the pace in really impressive ways. (Now we all like Petra, right?) You’re the Worst, same. Last Week Tonight had a very clear idea of its deal right from the start, but it hasn’t gotten lazy about it—if anything, the show’s ambitions continue to grow. Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat both settled into their comic rhythms and started writing to their performers’ strengths better, and the shows continue to blossom in all these funny and unique ways. I really hope more people will start watching Survivor’s Remorse, which had a really good first season and an actually great second season. Last Man on Earth is still growing into itself in some ways, but it’s a show I remain so curious about and excited for. (How far behind am I on Homeland? Uh …)

Should we talk about Transparent? I could talk about it forever (ask my friends). I was hugely nervous for the second season because the first was so singular and almost fragile; what if digging in deeper broke the show? Luckily, that didn’t happen. Instead the second season is even better, with bigger ideas and a more stylized visual palette. I’ve watched it through twice already, and both times was just knocked out. This was a stellar year for second-season comedies.

Thinking about the year ahead a little, I’m particularly curious about how Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will look in its second season. I adored Master of None (though I actually didn’t care for Noel Wells’ performance, though did love Lena Waithe’s; the show is just generally underacted), but I think its path forward is pretty clear. UKS has its first made-for-Netflix episodes ahead—its first season was originally made for NBC, then picked up by Netflix after the fact—and I genuinely don’t know if and how that will affect the show. On the drama front, I’m similarly curious about how Mr. Robot and UnReal will develop. A great first season is a blessing and a curse.

My big question for all of you is this: What show do you think you love that the rest of us either don’t watch, don’t care about, or straight-up dislike? I’ll go first: I love CBS’s Mom. I think that show is smarter and funnier than it’ll ever get credit for, and I’m always sad to see it left out of discussions about female-led comedies. Tell me your TV secrets!


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