TV Binge: Never Have I Ever (Season 2, 2021)

Never Have I Ever (Season 2, 2021)

Creators: Lang Fisher & Mindy Kaling

Cast: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Darren Barnet, John McEnroe, Jaren Lewison, Benjamin Norris, Richa Moorjani, Lee Rodriguez, Ramona Young, Megan Suri, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Adam Shapiro, Christina Kartchner, Niecy Nash, Dino Petrera, Common, Utkarsh Ambudkar

The complicated life of a modern-day first generation Indian American teenage girl, inspired by Mindy Kaling’s own childhood. – IMDB

Picking up right where Season 1 (review) left off, Season 2 continues on as Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) is now faced with her mom deciding to move with her to India as this prompts her to believe that dating both Paxton (Darren Barnet) and Ben (Jaren Lewison) secretly is a great idea. However when the India idea is cancelled, she now faces the consequences of her actions when both of them now despise her. At the same time, another cooler Indian girl Aneesa transfers to Sherman Oaks which makes her feel uncomfortable. On the side, Kamala (Richa Moorjani) has to deal with her new lab and labmates and her long distance relationship while Devi’s mother, Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan) is faced with dealing with another dermatologist Dr. Jackson (Common) who has opposing approaches to their practices as well as still trying to figure out how to deal with Devi’s constant issues.

The second season of Never Have I Ever is pretty fun. Arguably, probably even better than the first season because the foundation has already built for all the characters. The series still focuses on Devi quite a bit as she is still coming to terms with a lot of herself as she constantly made bad decisions which always lead to some bad situation that she needed to resolve. She is a very imperfect teen and that’s what makes her so easy to connect to as she struggles with her culture and blending into the student body with a lot of the high school drama. Before getting into the student body, its really about navigating between her two boys, Paxton and Ben and learning that she can’t really get everything, her temper/rage needs to be in check and she needs to embrace that she doesn’t have to be perfect despite remembering that her father would always call her “perfect girl” but slowly feeling less confident about things as everything seems to fall apart. Amidst all this, its learning about honesty and trust throughout this season (which was cleverly introduced through one of her therapy sessions) as well as not feeling the need to reach unrealistic expectations for herself (which leads to great revelation when she dreams of her father who explains why he calls her “perfect girl”. Devi’s journey is a fascinating one to say the least, even if sometimes she seems to truly go way off in her interpretation but its what makes her charming and comedic to watch.

As for the rest of the characters, the script makes them go through a lot of the issues that teens would encounter whether its from a teen dealing with their single parent like their disapproval of their new love interest. For Kamala, who is in her lab rotation, she has to deal with the realities of workspace in terms of gender and blending in. The high school setting brings on the issues of not fitting into despite coming out for Fabiola and somewhat losing herself in the process while Eleanor deals with a toxic relationship which she soon learns to differentiate. At the same time, Paxton gives a new angle to the jock forced to turn academic due to unforeseen issues. With dances, PDA and boyfriend/girlfriend issues to deal with, there’s a lot of area to cover for the show and probably a lot more issues to explore.

While the first season also had these characters, the second season really gave the smaller supporting characters so much room. They aren’t very deep characters but they had their purpose of being either very over the top or simply weird to mostly give insight to the main characters but a lot of times add in another level of comedy. The one that comes to mind is absolutely the history teacher Mr. Shapiro (Adam Shapiro) who is such an odd teacher especially with his freestyle of teaching history and his reactions to certain things but so funny to watch in all his weirdness. There’s characters who are impactful like Paxton’s sister Rebecca (Lily D. Moore) who is there to be the person to set Paxton straight. The new addition this time is Devi’s English teacher Mr. Kulkarni (Utkarsh Ambudkar) who comes in as a love interest for Kamala but also has the cool teacher vibe.

The culture and the generational gap plays a big part in the show breaking some of the stereotypes. That’s a big element of the show that also makes it rather appealing. Its nice to see Netflix embrace these things especially as its an international streaming service, much like its recent release of the romantic comedy film Wedding Season. Another big part of the show’s appeal which makes it unique is the voice-over by John McEnroe for Devi which adds a ton of charm to the show as someone who judges her on the spot a lot. Last season had Adam Samberg do a voice-over commentating on Ben and this season, there was one episode for Paxton with Gigi Hadid doing her narrative for his point of view which was quite a nice change of pace.

Running at 10 episodes of around 30 minutes ( makes it approx. 5 hours in total), Never Have I Ever is completely bingeable. To be fair, much like most comedies, the humor does depend a lot of a person’s taste. For myself, the first time watching Season 1 didn’t quite work too well but the show did grow on me that I’ve gone on to rewatch it a few times since its release of Season 1 and 2. Its an easy and fun watch overall and one that does share a lot of deeper topics despite navigating a teen’s life as she constantly messes up and learns from those mistakes. Isn’t that what life is, even if we’ve probably not gone through all of it.

TV Binge: Riverdale (Season 2, 2017)

Riverdale (Season 2, 2017)

Creator: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Cast: K.J. Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Madelaine Petsch, Casey Cott, Madchen Amick, Vanessa Morgan, Mark Consuelos, Charles Melton, Marisol Nichols, Skeet Ulrich, Martin Cummins, Luke Perry

While navigating the troubled waters of romance, school and family, Archie and his gang become entangled in dark Riverdale mysteries. – IMDB

Picking up from the events of Season 1, Riverdale which was already a darker version of its original comics takes a step further into the darkness. Everyone finds themselves faced with the aftermaths of the previous season’s events and having to step up to take some dire measures. Archie faces his own inner struggles as he tries to make a stand against the Black Hood and the havoc wreaked, while wrestling with feeling like a coward for how he couldn’t protect his dad. Betty is faced with both family issues as it falls apart while she has to isolate herself due to Black Hood approaching her to pull out her darkness. Veronica gets more involved into Lodge Industries operations while struggling with how much she wants Archie involved. Jughead is dealing with joining the Serpents and standing up for his Southside family but being judged for growing up in the Northside alliances with his friends and Betty. Between the Riverdale mayoral elections in the horizon and Lodge Industries having some mysterious plans as they buy up a lot of the key locations and the Southside High’s merge with Riverdale High, more characters get involved and more issues get caught up in the mix.

Its been a while since I’ve watched Riverdale Season one but the feelings that I initially had with it were decent. The tone and atmosphere being the main thing that stands out especially since it is based on the graphic novels and not the comics, which already explains the dark tone. At the same time, my biggest criticism for the first season was Archie’s character really not quite hitting the mark and in turn, Betty and Jughead seemed to stand out a lot more. With the second season, a lot of that still applies. Riverdale takes a much darker tone this time around as it involves a lot of other elements with politics and isn’t just about the high school crew. Its about gangs, the underworld, the politics, etc. All this actually builds up pretty well for the Riverdale world as it gives the town even more life and draws a clearer picture of the nitty gritty elements of Riverdale and its division between the Northside and Southside as well as some of the deeper secrets of the key families. Having just finished Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, its also pretty nice to see constant nod to Greendale even if its not actively involving any of the characters there, mostly due to the different networks that the series have been released on albeit being created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

When you dial it down, Season 2 is about two big plot points that trigger all these other little bits. The first is the whole Black Hood situation especially as it involves Betty directly since it almost seems like the Black Hood wants to use this to fully bring out her dark side so that she will do his bidding. Of course, its also once of the big twists as to who the Black Hood is. With that said, Lili Reinhart does Betty so much justice and truly captures that role so well that she’s definitely one of my favorite characters in the series.

On the other side, its all about what the Lodge Industries scheme is as they start buying up a lot of the Southside real locations with his shady connections coming into town, the conflicts between Veronica and her family’s choices as well as Archie’s gradual involvement into this which also puts a strain on his side. The upside is that Archie’s character does get a little more development since he is one of the titular characters and while Archie making dumb choices is all part of the character design in the comics and graphic novel, it gets frustrating to see him constantly be manipulated. It does match with the characters as well as Veronica and Archie as an item also seem to live in a rather shallow relationship in comparison to Betty and Jughead that seem to be more intellectual since they team together to solve mysteries, which is one of the very fun parts of the series itself.

Of course, Jughead has his own involvement here as he gets darker and more dangerously proactive as he joins the Southside Serpents and finds his place there. On that front, Season 2 did a good job of building up the characters further with these events and its not only the main characters but also expanding to the parent characters as well.

Season 2 was definitely a step in the right direction. Its a little dark and dramatic overall which is one of the reasons that I had stopped watching it in the first place since it just wasn’t the vibe I was looking for but they do capture the whole thing really well. Riverdale as a fictional town and the society comes to life just as much as the characters in it do as well. Not to mention, Season 2 had a cameo role with Tony Todd. With Season 2 done and dusted, it time to step into Season 3. There’s 6 seasons as this goes live so I have a bit of catching up to do especially with the final Season 7 set to premiere in 2023.

TV Binge: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Part 2, 2019)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Part 2, 2019)

Creator: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis, Chance Perdomo, Michelle Gomez, Jaz Sinclair, Tati Gabrielle, Adeline Rudolph, Richard Coyle, Miranda Otto, Lachlan Watson, Gavin Leatherwood, Abigail Cowen, Alessandro Juliani

As her 16th birthday nears, Sabrina must choose between the witch world of her family and the human world of her friends. Based on the Archie comic. – IMDB

With the Part 1’s well-built foundation, Part 2 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sets off on a more solid plot trajectory. This season’s focus is not so much about Sabrina’s struggle between embracing the witch world and the mortal world but rather learning to embrace the power that comes with her new witch abilities especially in the face of the Academy of the Unseen Arts and the leadership of Father Blackwood who seems to want to take them on a more misogynistic direction to, and a paraphrase, return them to their old ways. With both Father Blackwood’s ambition to drive this new power and change and the Dark Lord trying to lay out his plans for Sabrina to finally lead her down the path to ruling at his side much to Lilith’s displeasure, the story is all about some of the well-known characters finding their own path as they wrestle with their alliances.

Part 2 also takes the audience into a lot of world-building especially for the witch world. One of the more fun elements do go to the different versions of celebrations that exist in the witch realm, especially the backdrop of Lupercalia, their version of St-Valentine’s. The season takes itself on a lot of paths with a variety of smaller threats and wonders like some tarot card readings from a stranger crossing through town to some witch hunters. At the same time, Sabrina has to deal with her friends who have started to not trust her because of her witch abilities and whether magic is good or bad in general. Sabina also has the matter of where her heart lies especially as Nick Scratch becomes a main character at this point as her love interest which also challenges her trust in him as love is an emotion for the witch realm is not quite the same.

What’s nice about the end of Part 2 is that the show works towards shifting the main plot and manipulation to its end so that it can propel into another direction for the next part. Part 2 focuses on the big reveal of Mrs. Wardwell and her true identity as well as the Dark Lord and his purpose and why Sabrina is such a key piece in their ploy especially as the series ends on the note of whether to go through with her role as the Queen of Hell. There’s a lot more at stake this season and while the season itself is a tad shorter than the previous one, there is a lot more to discover since the characters now, especially Sabrina a much more out of the teen angst elements and diving more into the bigger elements. Sure, there are still the high school drama here and there but the whole supernatural thing is much more emphasized as both sides of Sabrina’s world does have to come together to try to fight against the bigger and darker powers.

Overall, Part 2 is a step-up from the first part. Where the first season uses for its foundation building and its more teen-oriented issues giving Sabrina (and her friends) more of the “normal” high school experience, the second season has all that sorted out for the most part other than the little relationships and friends drama that do occur. The focus shifts to other conflicts and bigger issues to deal with especially as all the characters also have changed and developed since the events of the first season. Its a good progression of events and is pretty fun to watch overall especially since Sabrina constantly makes pretty bad decisions or just decisions where she underestimates her own capabilities and everyone has to team up to help her out of it. Its a little frustrating but then there is still a part of it that is reasonable as she is trying to stop certain bigger issues to become reality or the new norm.

TV Binge: Bridgerton (Season 2, 2022)

Bridgerton (Season 2, 2022)

Creator: Chris Van Dusen

Cast: Jonathan Bailey, Claudia Jessie, Julie Andrews (voice), Simone Ashley, Charithra Chandran, Luke Thompson, Luke Newton, Nicola Coughlan, Ruth Gemmell, Polly Walker, Golda Rosheuvel, Adjoa Andoh, Kathryn Drysdale, Phoebe Dynevor, Calam Lynch

Wealth, lust, and betrayal set against the backdrop of Regency-era England, seen through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton family. – IMDB

Following the steamfest that is the first season of Bridgerton as it followed eldest sister of the Bridgerton family as she becomes Duchess and learns from Duke Hastings how to get in touch with her sexuality and sensuality and also helps him embrace his past so that they can move on better in the future, Season 1 comes to a pretty decent close and doesn’t have the appearance of the Duke as many already know since the real life actor has other projects so basically has been phased out with just the Duchess, played by Phoebe Dynevor making a few appearances to guide her older brother Anthony as he looks for his wife. You can check out my review of Season 1 HERE.

Season 2 dials things down on the steamy department quite a bit and Anthony’s story is one very similar to that of Pride and Prejudice and the familiar despise to love sort of story between Anthony and the previously disgraced Lady Mary’s family as they return to debut the younger sister, Edwina into society and find her a husband. Trained perfectly by her older sister Kate, Edwina is basically what Anthony is looking for in criteria as he searches for a wife to fulfill his duties as the eldest son and the Lord of the household and not for love. Right off the bat, Kate forms a strong prejudice against him based on a conversation he overhears at one of the balls and strongly goes against his pursuing Edwina however at the same time, their hatred and constant brush-up with each other creates strong feelings between them that soon turn into love. Season 2 is basically their journey for this season to their marriage at the end. Its much more familiar and tame than the first one but it has a lot more substance especially for Austen fans as Kate is a headstrong woman and she manages to bond well with Eloise, who reluctantly has entered society as well. It gets a little wishy-washy in parts but they do create a nice contrast between Kate and Edwina building on their sisterhood and their family background but also have that nice chemistry between Kate and Anthony that develops pretty nicely.

Bridgerton isn’t just about the love triangle between Kate, Edwina and Anthony. In fact, the story extends further into that Lady Whistledown plot where now, as the audience for the big finale of Season 1 was revealed to us and its just a trek for this character (not saying the name in case you haven’t seen the first season) to hide her tracks as Eloise is once again enraptured by trying to track down this character which leads her to another side of town, meeting people who are opinionated the way she would like to be. Talking about that, I do still love that Lady Whistledown is voiced by Julie Andrews. Lady Whistledown’s facade has a lot more at stake especially since this character isn’t only a part of scandal that the ton love to read but also has stepped on the wrong toes like the Queen who is also adamant on tracking the identity behind this character who constantly challenges her decisions. The final piece of the plot is the story with the Featheringtons as the household of women and girls wait for the new man of the house to show up which creates an interesting sort of side story and if anything builds up on Lady Featherington’s character the most.

Season 2 Bridgerton is much better than the first one. It takes on a different tone and while the material itself feels familiar, it fits so well into this society and how we come know and love this sort of Austen-like scenario. Not to mention that the acting is more refined with all the characters also having more substance to them as they tie up loose ends from the first and the Bridgertons, Lady Danbury and the Sharmas all have some really human moments where their somewhat of a demise separates them from the ton but also makes them embrace each other in some fun. If you’ve watched it, you know which scene I’m talking about. As a final note, I’m hoping that Lady Danbury hangs out for more of these seasons because she is a fantastic character, one of the best of the series as she’s filled with personality and guidance. Overall, a much welcomed step up in season 2.

TV Binge: Ugly Delicious (Season 2, 2020)

Check out the TV binge for the first season HERE.

Ugly Delicious (Season 2, 2020)

ugly delicious

With only half the length of the first season, Ugly Delicious is a quick binge to say the least. That being said, it still lives up to what it has built in its first season, bringing food and culture and views together. Its a bit more of a personal journey as David Chang sets out in the first episode looking at kids menu in anticipation of his child. Its a good look at exploring the kids menu at schools around the world and finding the balance of being a chef and family. In the following three episodes, David Chang and friends reunite to look at curry, steak and the turning meat.

While each of these episodes have a lot to offer and to learn, the best episode would be the steak episode which has amazing structure as it divides its discussion into a four course meal and having this central discussion on the different doneness of steaks and why (or why not) its a big deal to ask for a well-done steak. It leads to how steaks are done from fine dining to chain restaurants to little restaurant concepts as well as the different types of steaks including some that I’ve never heard about. Its quite the eye-opening episode especially as it uses this to go into politics, society, etc.

As usual, David Chang is really a great host for this. The guests he invites on each of these episodes or friends that go to the different locations to explore the food all have their own rapport and knowledge that it adds a lot to the series itself. However, carrying forward from the previous season, David Choe has to be one of the most hilarious additions to the friends. A little odd and does a lot of unexpected things but its why it makes it so entertaining. That being said, there are some fantastic travels here as they head to different locations as well like Mumbai and Instanbul just for starters.

Four episodes might seem like something of a short season and it definitely is, but each of these episodes do pack their own punch. Each having their own journey, whether its a journey to understand a cuisine better (Curry) or its a look at the different variations and how people view how certain foods are cooked and its impact on society itself and even expanding to feminism (steak) and finally how immigrants and people moving from one place to the next has brought over their food culture to a new place and the variety that its given (turning meat). Ugly Delicious is much more than just a food docuseries but rather one of the things I like the most about the show is how it manages to tie some societal elements using food as the bridge to talk about these issues.

TV Binge: Million Pound Menu (Season 2, 2019)

Million Pound Menu (Season 2, 2019)

million pound menu

Host: Fred Sirieix

Million Pound Menu is currently in its second season. Its main concept is that various restaurants concepts or food trucks or simply developing ideas are brought in to compete for a chance to run a pop-up restaurant for a few days to test their idea and functionality to impress several investors and hopefully end up getting an offer to invest and partner with them to take the next step.

While I can’t remember season 1 really well, Season 2 is structured where the first step is to put three restaurants against each other to cook the four investors of the panel their most popular/outstanding dish and to share their vision and concept for their restaurant as well as lay out their deal. The investors have to come to a consensus on one restaurant team who progresses to the next step to get a chance at the pop-up restaurant. In that process, investors who aren’t interested can drop out. Day 1 of the pop up restaurant is a soft launch dinner service where its open to public and the investors dine together to try out the menu and service. If they are satisfied, they progress to the next morning to discuss their business plans. If they pass this part, its the final stage of Day 2 lunch service at full price where the investors come back separately to dine alone and understand how the public feels about the concept and the food. At the end of Day 2, the investors have until 7pm to return if they want to offer them an investment.

Million Pound Menu is only 8 episodes long and it works to its favor because it is about investments and the progress of the meals and such. The show is edited fairly well to capture those moments in the services where the issues occur or the highlights of the discussions between the restaurant owners and the investors regardless of which meeting it is. There’s always that part of having the reason of why an investor backs out when they do. Its a decent show to see whether its the different concepts of restaurants but also gives the mentality behind investments as well as business plans and what different investors view a different path for some of these restaurants. What’s nice here (different from say shows like product-based investment shows like Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank), the investors can offer a different deal and modify the amount they plan on investing. There’s a certain level of flexibility there.

While I think that most of the investors are pretty intriguing to watch, the host Fred Sirieux is also quite knowledgeable but has an element of being over enthusiastic. It might his accent or how its shot that makes him that way. He does balance a lot of it well as he does help out the different restaurant owners and gives them advice when he sees things going wrong. However, the hosting is sometimes a little over the top for my liking. Obviously not enough to stop watching, but its something to point out. There are some neat restaurants presented here and its always a bet on whether the investors do end up coming back or not. Its a fun show and its about restaurant investment which is pretty interesting in general.

TV Binge: Sugar Rush (Season 2, 2019)

Check out the 1st Season of Sugar Rush review HERE.

Sugar Rush (Season 2, 2019)

sugar rush

Host: Hunter March
Judges: Candace Nelson & Adriano Zumbo

A baking competition with 4 teams, 3 rounds, 2 cakes and 1 winner of $10,000. – IMDB

Season 2 of Sugar Rush is here. With a quick 50 mins episode length and 6 episodes for the whole season, Sugar Rush is the perfect type of TV binge. It can be done in a day if you don’t have any other things planned or to do . Just like the previous season and the very on point synopsis on IMDB for the show, this is a professional baking competition which starts with 4 teams who compete in elimination format in 3 rounds to become the final winner of $10,000. Who makes the decision is between the two judges and the guest judge who may or may not be baking saavy but they are eating saavy (meaning they know how to eat and that’s really what is important here since baked goods isn’t only for expert tasting but for normal people too). Some examples of guests this season are Nick and Vanessa Lachey as well as Jacques Torres.

For those who haven’t seen Season 1, here’s a quick little rundown of how the competition is structured. There are 3 rounds to the competition. The first 2 rounds is cupcakes and confections respectively to be completed within 3 hours. Whatever time you save from those three hours adds on to the final cake round which also has 3 hours. The topics for each round is announced as you complete the previous round after the judges taste. The only trick here is that elimination of one team happens after each round as well. What changes in season 2 is two elements. The first is more relevant to the competition structure and that is all round 3 keep going. When Round 2 finishes, the final round topic is given as well as 3 additional hours. In that sense, the clock never stops making it embrace that time element much better and gives less down time where the other team doesn’t stand around waiting for their time to start like in Season 1. The second element is that the judges now all stay in the room while the competition is going on and does commentating which is great compared to the first season where they would leave and come back at the tail end. These little things keeps the process of the competition more engaging.

Other than one or two odd guest choices, Sugar Rush really does a good job in keeping up with the hype of the first season and polishing the structure and concept behind it which works better this time around. It had 2 less episodes from the previous season so its a quick one to binge through. The themes here also are pretty fun from starting with current popular baking trends to more thematic ones like science and love, they choose guests that match their theme while also having focus on both technique and visual appeal. Hopefully, Sugar Rush gets a Season 3 because I’d be down for it.

 

TV Binge: On My Block (Season 2, 2019)

You can find the first season HERE.

***If you haven’t watched the first season and intend to, spoiler alert!!!***

On My Block (Season 2, 2019)

On My Block s2

Creators: Eddie Gonzalez, Jeremy Haft, Lauren Iungerich

Cast: Sierra Capri, Brett Gray, Diego Tinoco, Jason Genao, Jessica Marie Garcia, Peggy Blow, Julio Macias, Danny Ramirez, Paula Garcés, Lisa Marcos, Reggie Austin

A coming-of-age story about four bright, street-savvy friends navigating their way through high school in the gritty inner city of South Central Los Angeles. Dealing with the danger of getting their friend out of a gang and friends turning into romance, danger is constant. – IMDB

Picking up after a cliffhanger ending in Season 1, Season 2 of On My Block resumes in the aftermath of the shooting that went on at Olivia’s Quincinera party. Suffice to say that On My Block lost one of the characters. The second season of On My Block is much more serious than the first one. It is about healing and picking up the pieces for everyone whether physically and mentally. Some like Monse (Sierra Capri) is trying to hold the group together as they all heal from the trauma; Ruben (Jason Genao) is healing physically and mentally in dealing with the event and losing someone he loves; Cesar (Diego Tinoco) is healing from guilt and the fact that he is dead to his brother (Julio Macias) and have no home while Jamal (Brett Gray), in his nervous personality, is stressing out how to share the news of finding the RollerWorld money and then, as a group, how to wash the money so they can now split it among the friends and use it.

On My Block

The second season of On My Block takes a shift in tone. While it still keeps the essence of each of these characters, the events of the first season has changed them. However, its a good thing because it was an inevitable stage of development that each of the characters needed to go through. In reality, its easy to see how each of their change makes sense. Each of them have their own burdens and have their own story. What  makes this season very bingeworthy is the fact that the show remembers to zoom into how certain relationships (friendship, love, bromance) is emphasized on further because its hard to not find that one person that is there or understands more than the next. The group is still a unit and they find their way back to each other all the time one way or another. Its that extra focus that adds a lot of depth to each of these characters.

The strength of the show is in how it treats each of these 4 young characters and Sierra Capri, Diego Tinoco, Jason Genao and Brett Gray bring them to life exceptionally. They give them each of their unique characteristics and they are characters that we want to see survive through all the difficult situations and choices they need to make. However, what makes them beautiful is that they remember that these are still teenagers and still give them some shenanigans that make them reflect their age and lack of experience in the real world. What makes it also very special is that its hard to tell who does a better job because as much as the story seems to focus on Cesar’s carryforward situation and he goes through possibly some of the biggest struggles here, his situation affects Monse’s decisions also while she struggles with her personal choices. At the same time, we can ignore that Ruben is also going through a lot and he has a whirlwind of situation as he tries to heal and move on which is much more inner process and we can’t forget Jamal, who doesn’t seem to be grounded in the other struggles but as the one that creates a lot of the comedic moments, has his share of glue that brings together the group because of these things that don’t feel as important.

On My Block

While the story remains strongly focused on these four friends, this season gives a lot more room for other supporting characters. The first season spent a lot of time for Olivia (who we now know is not part of the show) and Ruben’s grandmother played by Peggy Blow, who still has a focus and remains one of the most entertaining characters of the show. What did get a lot of attention this time and that gave her a new angle is Jasmine, played by Jessica Marie Garcia. There is a lot of potential for this character to grow because we’ve only seen one side of her in the first season and this season, she is given a whole new area to develop as she finds her bond in Ruben as she has a more positive outlook and happiness to her character that we see is one of her unique traits and makes her have something to teach these four as well. Other than that, we also see some more of the family members as they get extended appearances from Ruben’s mom to Monse’s father and of course, carrying from the first season, Cesar’s brother.

Overall, On My Block might not be quite the light and fun bingeworthy season that the first season one as its heavier in its themes. However, what makes it still be as great as the first one is that it takes the step to give these characters a lot of depth and growth from the things they have gone through and create bonds between each of them. I didn’t mention a lot of the bonds but a few fun ones do pop up and they also give the series a nice change in pace. If you have been watching this series, Season 2 will not disappoint and it’ll leave you looking forward to (hopefully) Season 3 (as I am right now..and waiting for the new that there will be one).

TV Binge: The Big Family Cooking Showdown (Season 2, 2018)

You can find the TV Binge for previous season below:

Season 1

The Big Family Cooking Showdown (Season 2, 2018)

the big family cooking showdown s2

Judges: Tommy Banks & Angellica Bell

If you had been following The Big Family Cooking Showdown, you would already know that they had announced a lot of changes in Season 2 prior to its airing. I’m not quite sure if it aired before it became a Netflix Original or not, but I believe its a BBC 2 show. Either way, other than just having the judges change, the show took away its hosts and let the judges take over that job as well. The structure of the competition has also changed. It still has some of the same challenges. This season, it separates into two parts essentially. The first 5 episodes is for two group of 4 families, where they end up having 2 families going into the play-offs, then the next 5 episodes is the second two groups of 4 families to fight for the two spots to the play-offs. Then the remaining is playoffs for the 4 families with 1 family eliminated, 1 family getting fast-track to the finals and the next last two fighting for the last finals spot.

big family cooking showdown s2

In terms of challenge, the 10 pound challenge remains as the kick-off challenge but with the added surprise element of doing the shopping on the spot and having to do their calculations and then if over, to give up whichever items. The first day wraps up with a known challenge of national dishes with a twist. After that, one family is eliminated. Day 2 has the 3 families in their next challenge where they choose one member to bake a dessert that they can choose the difficulty level which leads to a second challenge pre-known to make a two course meal (main dish and dessert). The playoffs are also structured over 2 days with the first having one spontaneous challenge called the pick ‘n mix challenge where the judges have one set ingredient and one member of each family chooses an ingredient from what is provided and they have to incorporate all the  ingredients into their dish with a minimal selection of spices, etc and wraps up the day with an indulgent treat meal (known in advance). There are following challenges of zero-waste (or as close to it as possible) meals and then the finale is essentially the same challenges as season one with a cooking spontaneous challenge followed by a 3 course meal.

After a huge description, we can go and break it down a little. Let’s start with the host/judges. Tommy Banks and Angellica Bell are really fun to watch. They work together well to create a nice dynamic. They have some puns and in general are a warmer experience and share a good knowledge of food and cooking throughout. They add in little discussions between and it makes for a nice idea of where they stand. As for the candidates, this is where the colors are. Its in the families that join who bring in the playfulness and spontaneous elements. Each of the families of 3 bring a different style and cooking mentality and its because of this and it brings in a lot of fun little moments. What works better in Season 2 is making it more focused on 4 families each time instead of doing them 2 families at a time like in the first season.

big family cooking showdown s2

In any cooking competition, its all about the challenges and the food. Its a good idea to put each day of the challenge with two of them where one is spontaneous and one is known before. Its a good bit to see which family works well even without practice and shows off some true creativity and skill. The spontaneous challenges are the ones that bring a lot more interesting elements to the competition. Its the ones that truly have that surprise factor also and have more issues that come up and chaos. Let’s be honest that perfect shows aren’t fun to watch and instead the chaos and overcoming those obstacles in whatever way is usually an enjoyable bit to see. Nothing works like a little bit of drama, right? In that sense, I think that might be where I’ve pinpointed the bits that don’t work so well here as the show at times feels a little bland. It might have to be that some parts, go by too long and then some go too fast and then there is a balance that sometimes isn’t balanced properly to make the show completely bingeworthy. Why I say that is that some food competitions like Zumbo’s Just Desserts, I can go back and watch it over and over again knowing the results but for The Big Family Cooking Showdown, I was lukewarm with Season 1 and didn’t rewatch it and then this Season 2 although I have some families that I really liked and the elements technically all work together, something never made me want to watch more than an episode or two and stop, nor do I have that urge to go back and watch it again. There’s something missing and I can’t quite pinpoint what it is. Perhaps its the same home footages of the families that repeat itself over and over again as well. Its definitely heading in the right direction though. If Season 3 happens, I’m hoping that there are some additional changes to make it even better.

Have you seen The Big Family Cooking Showdown?

TV Binge: Nailed It (Season 2, 2018)

If you missed the first season recap, you can find it HERE.

Probably one of the fastest TV binges ever! While I have a ton of TV binges I have to work on, Nailed It is surprisingly easy to write about so during this taxing week, I decided to put a lot of reality TV binges in advance.

Nailed It (Season 2, 2018)

Nailed It Season 2

Hosts: Nicole Byer, Jacques Torres

Guest Judges: Jon Gabrus, Ron Ben-Israel, Johnny Hekker, Waylynn Lucas, Art Smith, Joshua John Russell, Antoni Porowski

Nailed It is a pretty lovely concept and it works overall as a reality TV show. If you want the nutshell version of how I liked the first season, I liked it enough for me to hop right onto it the first weekend after it launched and then probably finished it over 2 days. Its fairly short episodes and there is only 6 + 1 episodes so its not exactly impossible to do either. In some ways, the entertainment value is there. Nicole Byer is great at her job. I know some people think she is annoying to watch but I actually think in Season 2, her and Jacques Torres has found somewhat of a balance and chemistry to make it work. I like her bombastic personality and its that personality that makes it fun to watch. The same goes for the judges who make their way onto the show which all have something to offer and add a little light to everything.

Nailed It

However, sadly, I do feel that Nailed It in Season 2 has betrayed its concept a little. Even if you went to Wikipedia or IMDB, they call it an amateur bake-off reality TV series. However, it didn’t quite go that patch especially in the first round of challenges as we saw watermelon carving and then a football field reconstruction where the extend of making food was organizing, chopping and making guacamole. All very noble things to learn how to do and hard to put together but doesn’t quite fit into the formula that the show is trying to sell initially. Maybe its because I watched this for the amateur baker angle that it disappointed me. Technically, I mean, this all does fit into the idea because Nailed It is just about hot messes that happen, right? So, you could apply it to anything that can be recreated.

Nailed It

Fact is, I’d be lying if I said that Nailed It Season 2 wasn’t entertaining. It was pretty entertaining and I loved the Queer Eye crossover episode which was just too short. That episode actually got me to sit down and actually get started on that series, which I’ll be doing a TV Binge on very soon for both seasons because well, while this one I’ve only watched once since the end of June. I’ve already watched Queer Eye both seasons twice. I’m going on a tangent so lets bring it back to Nailed It! Entertaining still but not quite what I expected with the additional diversity of the projects. When I get to the new reality TV Baking competition series Sugar Rush soon also, we’ll talk about how this could go so many different themes instead of going into these odd non-baking challenges. I wouldn’t be so disappointed if it was baking savory snacks to be honest. Its just that baking thing that some challenges was missing and I felt like Nailed It lost its way just a little every once in a while.

But then, if Nicole Byer is back for Season 3 of Nailed It, I’d be down to watch some more.