Aisling Bea’s This Way Up has returned for a second season on Hulu in the US and Channel 4 in the UK and Ireland. The second season looks at the issues and relationships facing two Irish sisters in London.
Aine (Bea) is now in a relationship with Richard (Tobias Menzies). She gets an offer from her boss, James (Ekow Quartey), to start a business. But her relationship with Richard could raise a complication for her business. Shona (Sharon Horgan) prepares for her wedding but has to deal with the fallout of having sex with Charlotte (Indira Varma).
The second season of This Way Up can be described as decent if unremarkable television. It falls into the trap that many dramedies do where the drama overshadows the comedy. The focus of This Way Up was Aine’s struggles with mental health and Aine and Shona’s relationships. Aine and Shona were both navigating minefields throughout this season.
Shona had the most interesting storyline of the season. She was alone for most of the season because Vish (Aasif Mandvi) was in New York City and her relationship with Charlotte with fraught. The two women had to work together but tensions remain since Charlotte felt like Shona ditched her. Shona had to repair her relationship with Charlotte and maintain her engagement with Vish. It was a ticking time bomb that lingered over the season.
Aine’s story was about her relationships. She spent more time with Richard, James, and Bradley (Kadiff Kirwan). They all ended up being interlinked. Aine was dating the father of one of her students which led to complications with her boss. As the series progresses Aine gets closer to Bradley: she helps him during a fundraiser for the Windrush generation and Bradley supports Aine during a tragic event in the season finale. They could get even closer if there’s a third season.
The other relationship in the season was between Aine and Tom (Ricky Grover). Tom doesn’t appear until the fourth episode but their interaction became significant in the season finale. The impact of his actions forces Aine to reflect on her past and does make some important actions for her future. It was one of the best episodes the series has produced because it felt real when handling the issues presented.
The third episode was also a strong entry in the series. This episode focused on Aine and James making their business plan and Aine feeling she wasn’t being supported by her sister. The second half of that episode was relatable as Aine struggled to write a revised business plan and suffered from a depression spiral.
The comedy in This Way Up’s second season can be best described as light humor. The comedy came from witty exchanges between the characters, particularly between Aine and Shona. Some of the most notable exchanges were the first scene where Shona and Aine go into a sauna, when the sisters try to embarrass Vish during a video chat, and when the pair visit a bridal shop. But it wasn’t a show that produces belly laughs, more small chuckles.
This Way Up is a show about its characters and interactions. Aine and Shona had strong character journeys due to their relationships. But it was a show that suffered from some lulls.