twentysomething season 2 review

Originally debuting in 2011, local comedy TWENTYSOMETHING returned to ABC2 on Thursday to commence its second season.

Staring and created by Jess Harris and Josh Schmidt TWENTYSOMETHING follows the characters Jess and Josh as they navigate their (late)twenties. Seemingly all ambition without motivation – or at least misdirected motivation – Jess and Josh are now in the position of having to think practically about their lives and where they want to be.

Before I get into my review I should first preface it with the fact that this episode was the first episode that I have ever watch of the show. Back in 2011 I was aware of the show, but I never knew when it was on, and once I started to hear good things about it the show was off the air. A few weeks back I had heard about the European webisodes but never really got around to watching them (in part due to my irrational distain for the webisode medium as a whole). But after hearing chatter from a few people anticipating the return of the show I decided I should give the show a proper chance. So on Thursday I sat down and I watch. So here is what I saw:

In the opening scene of the episode we are treated to a spectacular montage of a European holiday that conveys a total and unbreakable joy in the two lead characters. Following this set of images the characters returning to Melbourne, where they are met by Josh’s brother Nick (Simon Russell). The combination of these two scenes allowed the audience access to many sides of these characters. Jess is obviously the more boisterous of the two, while Josh calmer and more reserved. Josh’s brother seems to frown on Jess and this aspect of her personality, seeing her to be a bad influence, the one pulling his brother down. But also, in the opening scene you also get these sense of how insulated Josh and Jess’ bond and friendship is. I found it interesting that the viewer is presented with these characters as being married and travelling Europe alone, yet never is it really convincing to think that they are actually sexually connected in relationship. Their chemistry together is clearly that of friendship.

Once they have landed the trio get in a car that will take them to Nick’s happy suburban family life; the life that is so clearly shunned by these two. Throughout these scenes Jess and Josh look at their old home city as if it is a new wonderland. Everything seems to have changed since they left six months prior, everything is new. I found their quips and their feeling like a celebrity in these scenes really funny. Their attitudes is nearly infectious. The two are still on their travel high, yet that is quickly broken by the horrors of domesticity that plague Nick’ world. Which leads to the returned realisation that they are in their late twenties and aren’t exactly where they should be in life.

What follows is the characters venturing to a university open day and then to their ‘welcome home’ party. Throughout the whole episode the characters keep their bubbling chemistry, while peppering the scenes with really funny remarks and near fish-out-of-water reactions to their surroundings. This episode has done a good job of combining visual gags (Jess’s pigtails was a nice touch) with the characters comments to each other. But it is the latter where this show seems to really shines, which is the product of Jess and Josh as a comedy duo.

As a duo Jess is the loud, chatty and physical comedian to Josh’s more straight-laces deadpan guy. In this episode Jess is the one that seems to get more to do and say, but I think if the show give these two more of a balance it will lift both of them.

While TWENTYSOMETHING is full of jokes, one thing I was slightly surprised by was that the show also has a bit of heart to it. It isn’t immediately obvious, and the show almost wants to hide it, but later on in the piece Jess shares a moment with her old flame Billy (Hamish Blake) realising that he has moved on emotionally, and is even working an adult job – just like all the other people her age. And then following this moment, Jess and Josh get to talk about maybe moving on and allowing each other to be apart a bit more. I found that these moments really fleshed out the character, we get the chance to see them as people, rather than mouthpieces for one-liners.

Overall, I was really happy with this episode. Having not seen the show before I didn’t know what to expect, but I am really happy I gave the show a chance. The leads are charismatic, it’s nicely shot, and it has a well realised world. Oh, and its hugely funny, too. Now with TWENTYSOMETHING and Josh ThomasPlease Like Me, it seems that ABC2 really does have a commitment to diversifying their content and audience, a goal that is hugely aided by these quality products. Maybe ABC2 really isn’t just a wasteland for show they think might tarnish their brand (a popular view in regards to the treatment for Please Like Me).

Words by Luke Letourneau