I was pleasantly surprised by the first season of this show; it was more slow-burn than I expected but I liked that, and the humor and morality of the show was quite positive overall. As a result I was looking forward to the second season, but unfortunately the feeling was the opposite as this season was a real disappointment.
It is hard to really put a finger on what the problem with it, because there are many, however the lack of a defined narrative for either the season or the individual characters is certainly the biggest weakness. Without this the show lacks direction and seems unfocused and messy. There are some contained threads perhaps, but otherwise there is little to go with. This is the case from the very start, where the incarceration of Jesus is revealed to have just been a plot device at the end of the first season; essentially the show just picks up after that is over, and really it has no relevance to the rest of the show.
The characters suffer too as they are less engaging when they don't feel part of a world as they did in the first season. The cast are usually strong enough to make this work regardless, and the stronger performances of the first season continue to be worth watching (Murphy, Witherspoon, Fuller, Johnson); however the cast is more notable for what happens to some of the characters. Probably not deliberate, but the second season does feel like the female characters drop several steps backwards, getting used when it suits. With the exception of Ms. Tudi, this is very evident. In particular Maggie is totally absent for long periods, and does very little when she is involved. Likewise Dianne is used a handful of times, usually as a punch-line or plot device – the vague narrative thread of her character is pretty weak too.
Generally the plots are weaker, the characters thinner, and the tone of the show is lost a little. It does still have funny performances and decent episodes along the way, but in almost every aspect it feels like a step down from the first season. Hopefully the show can get back to more of what it managed to do in the first season – although I do remember hoping the same when season two of The Boondocks turned out to be much less than its first season.
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