WarningMight contain spoilers.

Hardly an easy one to categorize. Really a loosely-related collection of ideas. I’m not overly impressed by Joe Swanberg’s œuvre, but he’s a master at extracting naturalistic improvised performances from actors and incorporating little touches like the almost too real video calls in ‘Conjugality’. I appreciate how the show often forgoes the obvious melodramatic confrontation in favour of a pleasantly, believably untroubled resolution.

The quality varies. I hardly remember anything about the brewery except that it exists and that my impression was the same in the first season: boring, mildly obnoxious people performing tedious activities in an uninteresting locale. I also have no patience at all with characters crying over their lack of children irrespective of whether they can provide for them or raise them with any semblance of competence, and as such am unmoved by Annie’s tears in ‘Baby Steps’ (which also showcases a particularly American brand of coldness in Samantha).

Most are much better, though. ‘Package Thief’ is a well-told parable of paranoia and insularity until the twist at the end reveals it to be something more. ‘Open Marriage’ is an insightful and relatable look at relationships, our perceptions of them, and the faces we wear for different people. ‘Conjugality’ continues my favourite story, with Marc Maron and Michaela Watkins’s engaging banter and believably worn relationship, and refuses to let anyone off the hook despite the funny ending. ‘Prodigal Daughter’ unfurls in an interesting, unexpected manner and refuses to preach or devolve into cliché.

‘Side Hustle’ is, most obviously, an excuse for some stand-up comedy and more sex and nudity than usual, but even then, it holds one’s interest with its depictions of regular people trying to make ends meet and, again, eschews melodrama. I am perplexed by Sally’s saying she’s only considered acceptable now, given that she’s a tall, conventionally attractive, fair-skinned blonde who is simultaneously as buxom and as thin as Hollywood demands. At any rate, it’s a nice trick revealing Od to be Annie’s driver in the last episode through the magic of editing.

‘Lady Cha Cha’ tells a complex story about the conflict between abstract beliefs and human emotions, although the resolution is a tad facile. I’m skeptical of the necessity of the onscreen burlesque, though, and whether it achieves anything except presenting women to be ogled. I was glad to see IboChild on IMDb noticed it too:

Watching this episode, one can't help but wonder how an LGBTQ writer would have chosen to explore the relationship between Chase and Jo. In the first season, creator Joe Swanberg explored it by looking at Chase's efforts to modify her diet to accommodate Jo's veganism in "Vegan Cinderella." In this follow up episode, Swanberg explores how Chase's interest in exotic dancing impacts her relationship with Jo. Now if the series were primarily about Chase and Jo's relationship (which it obviously is not), one could imagine after several episodes (if not seasons), the show might get around to one or both stories, but only after other ideas had been exhausted. In "Lady Cha Cha" there are several scenes involving women performing exotic dance routines for the camera, often with little clothing on. I'm sure some lesbian and bisexual women (and even some straight women) may receive some pleasure in watching women perform in such a way, but one senses the male gaze in almost every scene. It's as if Swanberg has taken a story about a guy that has a girlfriend that is interested in exotic dancing and simply replaced the male character's name with Jo's name. Further supporting this is the fact that after two seasons, Swanberg has yet to explore a gay male relationship.