TV Review: Casual (2×01) “Phase 3”


When we last left brother and sister Alex (Tommy Dewey) and Val (Michael Watkins), they had struck some form of truce after Val had slept with Alex’s girlfriend while tripping. Things were, obviously, precarious between the two as Alex’s suicidal tendencies came to the forefront while Val tried to misguidedly fix everything like she believes she’s been doing her whole life. In the end, the two fit back into their inappropriately co-dependent dynamic, along with Val’s frustrating precocious teen daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr). It was a barely contained mess of a situation which made their family all the more interesting. The question seemed to be how long the facade could last without cracking.

With the season two opener “Phase 3” it would seem the answer is not too soon. Even more concerning is that it would seem Val and Alex were happy to orbit each other’s lives for as long as they could draw it out, to whatever detriment that may be and in “Phase 3”, the detriment is to Alex and his newly found path to happiness. After being thrown through the emotional ringer last year (helped little by his parents persistent presence in their lives) he’s looking to better himself. This entails morning runs followed by hot yoga but also trying to adopt a more optimistic personality. Val however, is unhappy about this, missing her role as Alex’s confidant along with her place as the most pulled together between herself, her daughter and her brother. It bothers her so much that she, with the belief she’s acting on Alex’s best interest, enlists his perpetually bemused best friend Leon (Nyasha Hatendi) to try and help Alex off the wagon and back into his pit of mild self-loathing. Leon agrees and while the results aren’t the disaster they may have been in any other broader sitcom, but instead grant us some insight into how Alex is feeling.

Laura meanwhile is dealing with the side effects of having released her own sex-tape and pining after her teacher, meaning the awkwardness of having to go back to school. So she doesn’t. Val’s solution to this is to go look into public schools which they immediately turn down when faced with the reality  of it, landing them on home school.

Laura was easily the most aggravating aspect of season one due to a mix of how she was written and played but hopefully as she finds herself aimless in season two we will be given a chance to warm to her as we have Val and Alex. Make no mistake, those two are by no means “likable” characters but, quite crucially, they’re watchable and manage to be sympathetic in their neurosis and narcissism. Laura was burdened with the least interesting storyline last year on top of being placed in the role of a teenager that we have seen often before. If season two can improve on anything, it would be her.

Otherwise season two gets off to a strong start although I can’t help but feel this is a show better suited to binge watching, despite the episodic nature of each half hours storyline. I’m curious to see how they develop Alex this season as season one took a leap from okay to very good once they squared away his character and heaped a whole lot of sadness onto his personality and childhood but even greater intrigue comes from the idea that Val is going to have to own up to her dependency on her brother this year and especially her need for him to be dependent on her.

It’s all she’s ever known.

The laughs (albeit small chuckles mostly) remain and Watkins and Dewey continue to be impress. It’s time to see what they’re going to bring for dysfunction in season two.

Who else is watching and what did you think of the season two premiere? Let us know in the comments.


She is a 23 year old in Boston MA. She is hugely passionate about film, television and writing. Along with theyoungfolks, she also is a contributor over at . You can contact her on Twitter (@AllysonAJ) or via email: