'Easy' captivates with its second season of vignette episodes

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 1:00pm

NOSELL

Netflix

 

Even as it enters its second season, “Easy” remains one of the year’s most underrated and overlooked TV displays amidst the flood of fresh Netflix originals. The anthology — with each episode presenting different, individualistic characters and storylines — continues on to explore more diverse Chicagoans and their experimentation in the realms of business, romance and culture. Whether it be trying out an open marriage, broadening entrepreneurial endeavours or raising an angsty teen, the experiences within the show are extremely approachable. After a binge-watch of season two, it is evident that much of the allure of the series is due to writer and director, Joe Swanberg (“Drinking Buddies”), who fuses his indie, improvisational and highly unconventional structure with captivating and introspective character development.

I have to admit that at first glance, “Easy” had me feeling the opposite of what the title implies. I was confused and somewhat uncomfortable, not quite sure how to approach the mumblecore vibes, ever-changing plot and overall unpredictability of the show. The characters talk over one another, the tone is almost too relaxed and conversational, and the situations that the various personalities are dealing with come off as somehow intensely serious and humorous at the same time.

But after a few more vignette-style episodes, I came to accept that my very uneasiness is an integral element of the show’s intent. The spontaneity and tackling of ultra-contemporary issues like sexuality, status and race are what give “Easy” its honesty. The way that I became invested in new characters who then disappeared after a mere 30-minutes left me hoping for the expansion and elaboration of certain stories into stand-alone pieces.

It must be said, however, that not all of the episodes and stories had as equal an impact and intrigue to them. The significance of each episode was entirely dependant on how devoted I was to the featured personas and scenarios. While some of the stories picked up as a continuation of season one, most were unfamiliar and innovative, allowing similar opportunities for a sparked interest. The most entertaining and compelling episodes of “Easy” were the ones that highlighted experiences that I could envision myself encountering in real life, which prompted the self-investigation of, “How would I handle this?”

Hands down the funniest episode of the season is the first, where a group of dynamic and hyperbolized suburban couples form a neighborhood watch to catch a package thief. Though simple in plot, the focus on mob mentality, or how one’s perspective can sway the group’s, and Aubrey Plaza’s (“Parks and Recreation”) subsequent unconvinced and unimpressed facial expressions are enough comedic payoff in themselves.

In fact, the genuine and palpable acting within “Easy” is one of its greatest successes, as this season spotlights some Hollywood geniuses like Joe Lo Truglio (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Judy Greer (“Arrested Development”), Zazie Beetz (“Atlanta”) and stand-up comedian Kate Berlant among others. These actors take on roles of various races, ethnicities, sexualities, ages and professions, and they lend a real authenticity and normalcy to diversity and difference. In a time when diversity in media is so often included to “check boxes” of character variety, the character portrayals in “Easy” never appear forced or unnatural, remaining legitimate and relatable throughout countless storylines.

It becomes evident that the premise of “Easy” is not to feel content after each episode wraps up (even though each story does culminate with some sort of conclusion), but to continue wondering about the trials and tribulations of others, and maybe even look at your own life with a different lens. The show teaches compassion and consideration for those around you, especially those who may look or seem different, and to acknowledges that not all of life’s situations have an immediate happy ending. This underlying message is not only comforting and surprisingly uplifting, but is extremely relevant and necessary in today’s often idealized society.

Season two of “Easy” reveals that aside from what it seems, life is not, in fact, always easy. The series represents a mishmash of varying personas and perspectives and consequently leaves viewers with a mishmash of feelings and emotions, which interact in an uninterrupted and natural way. “Easy” breaks down the reserved sheltered way that traditional comedy-dramas portray sex, romance and money-making, and is a hit with millennials because of that candor. With seemingly endless scenarios that future storylines could follow, I’m hopeful that the series will return with a season three and continuing inquiring upon the often untold truths of our types of diverse and dynamic people.