‘Please Like Me’ Season 2 Advance Review

Please Like Me Series 2

Please Like Me, one of television’s true hidden gems, returns for a second season tonight, Friday, August 8th at 10:30pm ET/PT on Pivot. The comedy’s star, Josh Thomas, is also its writer and creator; a young man with a singular vision who excels at making the audience laugh at uncomfortable situations. After a first season of grappling with mortality, sexuality and mental health, the second season gets off to a somewhat lighter start. Even more so than last season, the realities of mental illness are ever present. In fact, in the first four episodes the private care home Josh’s mother finds herself in and its cast of characters get as much screen time as Josh and his pals. However, the exploration of what it is like for Josh’s mother and the other patients to deal with their traumas is explored fearlessly, with humor to spare.

There is an air of change as we charge back into Josh’s world. Josh is still awkward, but he is far more comfortable with his sexuality. It is his personality that concerns him now. Josh’s defining characteristic has always been his emotional detachment. He observes the world, but the ways in which he interacts with other humans can come off as distant and wry. For some people, his behavior is frustrating, for others, like Josh’s father, it is baffling. How much Josh cares about the people in his life and how he learns there is difference between being a “nice guy” (which he isn’t) and a “good guy” (which he is) appears to be at the heart of his season two arc.

Since the loss of his aunt, Josh has gained a little sister, Grace, who is an endless source of cuteness, and a pair of new friends in his roommate Patrick and anxiety-sufferer Arnold. Patrick is everything Josh desires to be: effortlessly cool, charming and socially graceful. Arnold represents everything Josh is: awkward, analytical and straightforward to a fault. It is too soon to say the trio is in a love triangle, but there are certainly hints that over the course of the 10 episodes a triangle will develop as Josh struggles to figure out who he wants to be and who he wants to be with.

More so than any other series on television, Please Like Me presents viewers with the question, “Are you okay with who you are?” It’s not just Josh who grapples with his personality. Tom continues to try to overcome his inability to let go of Niamh, but keeps going back to her despite how unhealthy their relationship is for the both of them. Josh’s father is still guilty over leaving Josh’s mother and even worries Josh will be jealous of his new little sister, while Josh’s mother struggles to find balance in her life as she deals with her Bipolar Disorder. Fascinatingly, Please Like Me presents these flawed people and does not ask them to reach grand of epiphanies. They slide backwards in hilarious and tragic ways only to reach out tentatively for help when their lives swing out of control.

The comedy may be black– only Please Like Me could make a rape joke in the first episode that is somehow respectful to the victim, horrifying, and quietly twisted all at once –but Please Like Me is a joyous show at heart. It is about acceptance and family and the messes we make of our lives. Thomas once again takes the mundane truths of life and turns them into episode after episode of sharp,comedic brilliance, only this time his confidence is showing under his endearing, twitchy facade.

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