Welcome back to my reviews and recaps of “Casual.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
I forgive a lot about the underlining problem with Casual, being the characters absurdly privileged universe. Straight, white and happily wealthy, Laura can ditch class to learn at home for fun as Val and Alex stick their noses up in disgust at-the horror-public schools and it’s forgivable because of these characters’ insecurities.
But let me side step for a moment to talk about how much I hated the skewering of “PC” culture and trigger warnings as Laura, in her very privileged situation, scoffs at people proving how progressive they are. “Shut the hell up” seems like the most suitable response. On the one hand, I think it’s great to see Laura finally interacting with people her own age and seemingly enjoying it, but it’s also bringing out the characters’ worst tendencies. It’s fine to watch and enjoy these characters when we take their privileged outlook on life with a grain of salt. However, it’s a much different situation when the script seems to want us to agree with what they are saying.
It’s an annoying bit of writing for a character I’ve always found irksome. Laura, to the detriment of the character, never feels like a teenager, but rather an actress reading lines of what someone in their 30s or 40s wish they had sounded like in high school.
It’s unfortunate that this scene took place since it was a major detriment to an otherwise strong installment.
Increasingly wonderful to watch is the humanization of Val as a character, someone who in season one could come off as cold and detached from others and experienced emotions she couldn’t comprehend – ironic considering her profession. What the show has done that’s been to the benefit of Val’s characterization has been to give her empathy. At the party, she demonstrates an intimate ability to understand someone’s awkwardness and then finds a way to make them feel better. It’a sweet scene and one that speaks to greater things for Val than we’ve seen in the past.
Alex meanwhile continues to spiral from the paranoia that seeing his ex-girlfriend inspires. Claiming that they had a toxic end to their relationship (with her stealing all of his light-bulbs), he’s already stretched thin in terms of how far his conspiracy theories go. Add to that the fact that she is dating his new boss and his sister is unreachable due to finally securing her own separate social life, his security is being tethered. As we have seen for much of the season so far, as Val and Laura continue to find new feelings of belonging, Alex continues his descent into isolation, and it isn’t a good look for the character whose need to be right and narcissistic facade are at their most irritating when he’s feeling pushed to his limits.
Beyond my frustration with Laura’s subplot, it was yet another strong episode in a season full of them thus far. Despite their happiness though (minus Alex), I can’t help but wonder when something is going to happen and that happiness is going to be stripped away. These characters are self-sabotaging by nature – it’s what they know and what they always have known and unless they have have come to a complete enlightenment of who they are and what they need to do in order to better themselves, I’m going to keep on watching with some tension, worried for when it ultimately will begin to crumble.