WarningMight contain spoilers.

Slightly uneven, but a great show: funny, smart, incisive, never overbearing. Ophelia Lovibond easily anchors the whole thing as Joyce:[1] uptight and eminently intelligent. Jake Johnson slides into the role of Doug with ease; the two of them play well off each other. The supporting cast are solid. Michael Angarano gets to play a more interesting twist on an old lover: the irritating boyfriend who turns into the cheerful ex, then the friendly ex, then the ex Joyce rekindles her relationship with, and then the would-be publisher.

Joyce’s imperfection is an important part of her charm. She repeatedly challenges her own prudish nature. She’s also well aware that she puts people’s backs up with regularity. She doesn’t get off Scot-free when she has a liaison with Shane and tries to keep him at a distance afterwards, either. (Incidentally, I didn’t understand why she’s sitting with the newest issue in front of her at the end of the episode, given that she told Shane she’d kill it.) Nor does it go unremarked that she shares personal details of her sister’s sex life on the radio: watching her decimate the two hosts is a pleasure, but it’s a terrible violation of Shelly’s privacy.

Tina’s a strange character and her relationship with Doug is appropriately odd. I did enjoy her calling in the Russians to (very satisfyingly) deal with the frightening army of prototypical Men’s Rights Activists. That invasion demonstrates how it’s not quite as easy for a woman to brush off hateful messages as Doug thinks: men who send women threats have a nasty habit of following through. It’s not at all the same.

The Billy Brunson photo shoot is solid writing. Austin Nichols’s performance makes him unambiguously repellent. Doug alienating everyone just to get photos he ultimately can’t use is sad, but in keeping with his character. The scene itself is marvelous: a bevy of pretty, topless girls pose and smile for the camera, yet a clear sense of discomfort and queasiness pervades the entire scene, without needing to be explicitly discussed.

I thought the introduction of the mayor was establishing the (somewhat caricaturish) antagonist of the season, but Minx’s story is haphazard; there’s enough conflict in the offices themselves, including fending off the other magazines, without going to the trouble of reliably picking up where previous subplots left off, so her appearances are sporadic. I don’t think I can swallow her teaming up with Willy and Franco in the finale, though.

Speaking of the finale, the ending is just as unusual as the show itself. The end of Doug and Joyce’s partnership tugs at the heart, but she’s right about what he did, and right to go it alone no matter how hard it might be and how much she might falter. Given the lighthearted tone of the show, it makes sense that it doesn’t spend much time portraying the rampant sexism and harassment one would expect her to face: the rest of the season has already detailed the life of a woman in the industry without belabouring the point.

  1. In fact, I forget she wasn’t American by the end.