Reviews: The Second-Season Let-Down

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas

I’m so glad to have this space in which to give you my thoughts on various films and TV shows. However, I do admit to becoming overwhelmed at times with all that I’d like to watch and the number of hours in a day in which to watch them… even now in isolation. I sigh. I persist. I hope you will find the following of interest.

“Devs” is an intriguing find on Hulu: a sci-fi mystery that’s imaginative (even if you don’t like sci-fi), thought-provoking and wonderfully acted. Its creator is Alex Garland, the writer/director behind the films “Ex Machina” (2015) and “Annihilation” (2018), both personal favorites of mine. The title seems to refer to the development department of a large private company, but it’s not that at all; it’s explained in the last of eight episodes and it’s a perfect surprise. Without giving anything important away, the premise consists of odd goings-on at this company founded by an eccentric Silicon Valley millionaire (Nick Offerman—both gentle and creepy at the same time), a mysterious disappearance (murder?) and a young woman (Sonoya Mizuno—all steel and vulnerability) determined to find answers. Kudos go to the always interesting Alison Pill as the millionaire’s mysterious second-in-command.

“The Split” (season one) is also available on Hulu and it’s a winner. Both melodramatic and down-to-earth, this British import starring the estimable Nicola Walker is about a family of divorce lawyers—two early-middle-aged sisters and their fierce, not-ready-to-retire mother—who are often at loggerheads but whose loyalty is deeply rooted. The 12 episodes depict interesting, sometimes brutal, divorce cases, but also deal with the home lives of the sisters. There’s a third daughter, the baby of the family, who is nothing like the others and is dizzy with wedding plans to a man the rest of the family finds difficult to accept. Lots of good stuff here, made even better by fine, multi-racial casting, crisp scripts and, needless to say, all those amazing British actors that I do so adore.

“Homecoming” (season two) on Prime Video is a disappointment. I will admit to watching the first three episodes and then abandoning it, so if it gets better as it goes along, ah well, should have grabbed me from the beginning. After the searing drama of the first season with Julia Roberts, in which we are caught up in the enigmatic workings of the Geist Group, a so-called “wellness” company, this season continues sans Roberts but with the fascinating Janelle Monae as the lead. My first negative reaction was to the music—too loud, too busy, and supplying all the drama missing on the screen; it annoyed the hell out of me. The story has an amnesia theme: Monae’s character wakes up in the woods somewhere, has no idea how she got where she is and is pretty ferocious about finding the answers. Sadly, I was not caught up in her story or her dilemma enough to stick around. If I’m wrong, do let me know—I take differing opinions quite well!

“Hannah Gadsby: Douglas” is on Netflix and, while it’s good to see this amazing woman again and to be allowed into her equally amazing mind, this show is—as it had to be—a letdown in comparison to last year’s “Hannah Gadsby: Nanette.” In that show, she let us know, in no uncertain terms, that she was tired of her own self-deprecating humor and was giving up comedy. That was premature, glad to say, because this year she’s back and there is no self-deprecation at all. In fact, there is a quiet rage offset by that mischievous twinkle in her eyes and a sweetness that bleeds through. Lot of good points are made about society, Americans, autism, white male power and so on. Plus, a lesson on Renaissance Art unlike any you’ve ever seen. Worth it, for sure—the woman is one of a kind.