Season 2: The increased run exposes some weaknesses but it is mostly still funny and imaginative stuff that uses her persona well
Although it was very short, season 1 of this show made me willing to catch the next one when it became available to UK viewers. I did approach with hesitancy though because although season 1 was mostly funny and imaginative, there were indications that perhaps having to do it over a longer run would be a lot more challenging. In some small ways my fear was found to be correct because there certainly are some weaker episodes in the 16 episode run even if the overall standard was about the same as that which I had enjoyed in the first season.
The problems appear to be when the show has to operate as a "normal" sitcom. I use the word normal with reservation because it doesn't really apply to the world of this show, but I mean it in the way that the plot is more of a standard structure rather than being about or involving a controversial subject such as 9/11, animal abuse, AIDS, walking a mile in the shoes of a black person, homelessness etc. The shows without this material are still quite funny but they do not have the edge that some of the others do, partly because Silverman appears to be at her best where she can shock and be funny at the same time. This approach keeps the viewer on their toes and it helps the laughs because some of the things she says/does catch you unaware and are funnier for it. This is not the same as saying what some critics do – that she is just all shock and no content, saying outrageous things and passing it off as comedy – to me this is an unfair critique.
I can understand why some may see it that way because granted her comedy will not be to everyone's taste but there is definitely creativity, wit and imagination in her performance and in this sitcom. There is basic humour in here to be sure, scenes of physical humour or childish jokes but there is also a real smart humour that belies the "saying shocking things for the sake of being shocking" accusation; rather it is a combination of how she delivers these lines as well as what she says. Likewise this imaginative writing enables a show about the initially childish humour around bed wetting to turn into something funny. This continues to make her childlike personae work really well. Not just that she is naïve but that she is self-centred and selfish and I find her character to be funny rather than annoying (although again I understand why some feel the other way on that).
Season 2 makes some improvements in fleshing the show out beyond Silverman even if it does still rely heavily on her. While I still could not imagine another character carrying an episode, there are lots of nice asides or secondary plots that are amusing. Agee and Posehn continue to be reliable for this and produce some funny threads with their still-quite-simple characters. Laura continues to be a good device for the plots to work off and she does provide a good foil for Sarah, delivering a good "weary acceptance" no matter what happens – which I always find funnier than surprise or shock. Johnston benefits the most in season 2 – while he is a similar character as before, he is a lot funnier and given more comic material to work with than before.
Season 2 continues the trend of season 1, with the dips in quality here and there perhaps understandable with delivering 16 episodes instead of 6. Silverman is at her best when she is dealing with subjects in a non-PC way with imagination and wit in the writing. Trying to do a "normal" plot that doesn't involve contentious subjects don't give her as much to work with but she is still pretty funny because her created personae is. Not to all tastes for sure but season 2 is funny and imaginative and, no matter what some critics says, is certainly not just a pretty young woman saying rude words to make children laugh and annoy adults – it has a lot more to it.
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