So the one time a TV show almost literally does exactly what I hope they’ll do, it’s immediately canceled because of horrendous ratings. I’m going to hope and pretend that those two things are unrelated.
Getting a glimpse of the remains of the second season is even more of a bummer, as indeed, it looks like the writers and producers agreed with my opinions (not that I think they read here or anything, but that we seemed to be of one mind) on the show’s strengths and weaknesses, and were playing up the former and working on eliminating the latter.
For example, take a look at the presence of the three peripheral comic-relief characters: Robin, who didn’t quite work; Eli, whose creepiness was funniest when subtle; and Luther, who as played by Ray Ford can be wearing a ridiculous Kid ‘N’ Play wig and still have his pronunciation of “That was close, girl!” be by far the funniest thing about the hysterical pregnancy-scare flashback in “Monday June.”
In the second season: Robin’s basically gone. Eli’s sexual deviance is way toned down and he is much more… innocent and wholesome than he was in the beginning; his use of the magic-mirror voice to set June right feels like a surprise acknowledgment (on ABC!) that despite what Law and Order would have you believe, people with weird sexual tastes are not inherently destined for kidnapping and murder. And Luther has a way more prominent role, especially in the latter half of season two so far. He’s in nearly as many scenes as JVDB, often in scenes without his employer, and the writers seem to have figured out that all you really have to do is concoct some ridiculous phrase for Ford to roll around in and let him do the rest.
Another thing I loved about this show was that there’s more of its progressive view of sexuality. With Eli, the point always seems to be that kinky people can also be wholesome; in “Monday June,” the JVDB pregnancy subplot felt a little similar in showing that wholesome people can also be kinky. It’s a humanization of outside-the-pop-culture-norm sexuality both ways. The couple who got married in “The Wedding…” — “You banged in the coatroom,” says Chloe bluntly as JVDB tries to place where he knows the wife from — return to New York and are shown to be… just fine. The husband has, in fact, clearly related the story of how his wife used her celebrity freebie on JVDB enough times that it’s more like “The time we went to Ecuador!” or “The time that waitress ignored us for 45 minutes!” He seems genuinely happy that his wife got to do this fun thing.
A lot of the culture nowadays would suggest that his lack of jealousy means he doesn’t love or care about her. But the husband is clearly very loving and protective of his wife, shooting JVDB a hugely dirty look only after he’s made her cry with constant suggestions that she won’t be a good mother. The situation of an otherwise completely square, Midwestern, Good Morning America-going couple being dedicated to one another yet completely chill about a one-time infidelity is mined for a lot of jokes, but it feels surprisingly normal, too.
I hated the “Whatever It Takes…” first-season episode, but found “Monday June” delightful. (Probably because Chloe’s employment of the “black lightning” herbal supplement in June’s tea without her knowledge was not meant to get her to have sex with a specific person, as was true when June was the spiker and Chloe the spikee. But… you know what, I’m not getting into that again.) For one, I love when TV episodes have weird structures. For two, it's just really funny. The activities June does while intoxicated are unexpected, and I liked how most everything we see Monday June do in flashback gets at least a touch of reference on Tuesday, as with June’s confusion about grass stains and her legs being inexplicably sore.
The sexuality thing comes up again in “The D…”, as Chloe tugging at June’s knees with faux concern to see “if your V’s been stolen!” Hee! I used to occasionally list a “this joke’s for the ladies” in the stray observations when a line made me giggle out of both it being funny and delight that someone actually wrote that joke in a world where most comedy comes from a dude point of view. (“Vitamin C for CARELESS!” springs to mind.)
Another quality I liked in the first season that was played up in the second is June and Chloe having a lady friendship that feels as real as can be expected in a world with tranq guns. Particularly when we get glimpses of their friendship via conversations that don't have much to do with the plot — for example, two women talking to each other about the awesomeness of Charo should, like, break whatever device is used to apply the Bedchel Test. I’ll miss that. Halfway through the final episodes!
- Chloe’s “ARIGATO HEYYYYYY!” is, I presume, because she thought the emissaries from Yoshida would be Japanese?
- Loved Dreama Walker’s tamped-down horror when prompted that Monday June’s dirty joke began with “A Mexican…”
- Another thing I’ve never mentioned is goddamn how much do I envy Chloe’s wardrobe? She’s up there with Alyson Hannigan on How I Met Your Mother. (Who I gather uses her own wardrobe?)
- Aw, Luther was totally gonna do the right thing by his shockingly hot beard. (And he went to Hunter College, hee!)
- As a lady whose freshman-year hall was plagued with dudes "meatball subbing" each other (use your imagination), I enjoy that June has a name for fried eggs.
- June was born on April 22, Eli on July 14.
- “I found out that if I get this role, I’m going to win an Academy Award.”
- “I’m about to slap me a plagiarist!”
- CHARO! She’s Chloe’s Cher.
- 50-year-old Scotch? Whaaaaaaaaat.
- “Namaste, James Martinez.”
- How many people other than me immediately tried to do “no bananas, new bananas” ten times fast? It’s actually not that bad as tongue twisters go.
- Hee, what a great cut at the end of “The D…” as the bewigged JVDB inhales to begin his audition for Monte Carlo, Mante Carla. I haven’t been watching the episodes ahead of time, so though you guys probably already know it, I hope he gets the part. Or maybe my desire for further mockery of Woody Allen tropes is just a demonstration of why I am unfit to give advice on how to be a successful mainstream TV show.