Well, this was a royal mess.
Usually I expect this kind of random and flighty behavior from a show in season 5 or 6, but 2? We had all the same problems as season 1: acknowledging “wackiness” without fixing anything, Billy’s Dick Mode and abuse disguised as average romantic plotlines, gross generalizations about men vs. women, and typical 90s sex panic. They got a little better with naming characters, but that was really the only improvement.
I’ll try to hit the high points here.
We got Nelle and Ling this season, and they’re both pretty awesome over all. However, they both ended up centering entirely around the men they’re dating, which is a serious bummer. Ling is mostly good at standing up for herself, but then Richard managed to conquer her long-standing denial of sex with Viagra, of all things, so she’s second place by the end. Nelle needs something to do that’s not will-they-won’t-they with Cage, because I was tired of that by episode 3, and they still made it last the entire season. She is, however, the only one who consistently stands up to Billy and tells him how much of a dick he is, and the show definitely needs that as a counterbalance.
Billy needs to GTFO. Immediately. I don’t agree with a single one of his plotlines this season. Sneaking around with Ally, being overly possessive of Georgia, telling his boss he has no romantic hopes for him, just all of it. Oh, also, casually dumping marriage therapy, which is desperately needed if they’re going to insist on this relationship, because they had one bad session with Rosie O’Donnell. He’s a garbage person and deserves no more thought or screen time.
Renee was still mostly a sidekick this season. She had her thing with Matt, which was super ill-advised, but otherwise was just a sounding board for Ally’s whining. She’s more stable and put together than Ally, and I stick by my theory that if she’s willing to put up with Ally this much and still loves her, they should just get married, raise a family, and start a women-only commune away from all these trash men.
Poor Georgia got shafted, she’s only here to play romantic foil to Ally for Billy anymore. I like the little things they give her to do, but she needs to dump Billy ASAP. Maybe she can live in that commune with Ally and Renee.
Elaine was mostly reminding us that I AM SEX this season, but honestly, she got more depth than Georgia did. She got a bit of pathos with the face bra episode, and we got insight into her being happy living more simply in the dance ep. Kind of. She did tell Cage that she’s always masking a sense of existential loneliness, so I guess I have to take the rest with a grain of salt.
Cage and Fish were mostly just involved with Nelle and Ling, so see above. I don’t hate Cage for his eccentricities, but I dislike him for his stubborn lack of self-awareness, which is part of the reason he and Nelle don’t really work together. Richard, on the other hand, mostly owns his shit, so I enjoy his more crass attitude and casual dismissal of legal authority whenever he’s dragged into court.
R.I.P, Butters. You’ll always hold a special place in my heart. I would love to see you on the show again, because you and Nelle are the only reasonable characters, but you deserve better than any of Ally’s mess. Go off with Kimba and have a great time, she is not even worth it. I’m sorry you altered your plans to give her another chance, and she blew you off for a newly introduced escort character that she never even pursued.
SPEAKING OF WHICH. Ally is stalled the fuck out. She made no significant progress in season 2, and actually slipped to the point of mental distress and hallucination by the end. Which, to be clear, is a fine direction for the show to go with her. I can believe that a woman would be so torn between vocational and romantic expectations that she’d crack under the pressure! But it’s so unevenly treated. Like I ranted about a few eps back, when she has someone, she doesn’t want him, and when there’s nobody, she’s whining about being single. On a more self-aware show, I’d think this was a commentary, but on this one I think they’re up their own butts. And then, instead of centering her life around what she wants and can do on her own, her solution is to date some more to make Al Green go away. I guess if hijinks are the only way the show knows how to solve a plot point, then knock yourself out. But there is some hard-core introspection and therapy needed. Tangentially, I’ve been thinking recently that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a show that succeeds in every way that Ally McBeal fails, but that’s a think piece for later. For now, it’s time to see if the writers can get back on track at all for season 3.