Amy Schumer’s semi-biographical Life & Beth has returned for season 2. And while our protagonist is in a healthier place mentally and relationally, the trauma of the past is still present in nearly every aspect of her life. Is it fun to watch someone struggle through the messiness of life? Kinda? But more than anything, it’s seeing how awful things can be for others that both hits close to home and makes your problems feel a bit smaller.
Life & Beth jumps back into the story of Beth (Amy Schumer) with a full 2-minute intro recapping the events of the last season, including the death of her Mother, Jane (Laura Benanti), breakup from longtime boyfriend Matt (Kevin Kane), the fluctuating presence of her father, Leonard (Michael Rapaport), and budding romance with gardener, John (Michael Cera).
Beth is a lot happier now and her committed relationship with John is good, but she can’t help but feel like something might be off. She shares this tidbit with her family practitioner, who really only was inquiring about her new mailing address. This dry, situational humor is what drives the show and there are plenty of these awkward moments to go around.
If season one was about the loss of someone you loved, season two is about finding someone who loves you and whether or not that’s enough for marriage. Beth and John struggle to communicate even though they are often on the same page…at vastly different points. Beth works to express her feelings, needs, and expectations, and John’s odd behavior and logical—but not helpful—responses often throw her for a loop.
Beth’s reactions to John are shaped by years of heartache and mistreatment by a string of men and her well-meaning but absent parents, as detailed for us in flashbacks. Violet Young returns to play Beth as a teenager and is just as brilliant this time around. Young taps into all of the hope and pain of growing up as Beth casually brushes off a really ugly rejection, deals with the unfair responsibility that falls on her shoulders courtesy of her mother, and tries to have fun, adult experiences with her lifetime besties and their newly acquired fake IDs. Young gives us all of the awkwardness while holding it together for her own sake and that of her younger sister Ann (Lily Fisher; Susannah Flood in the present day).
Beyond the storylines are the creative choices for filming, editing, and music that help create the setting and tone. One thing that stood out to me this time was the frequent use of musical transitions that seemed more prominent than last season. There are extended moments without dialogue that drive the story forward as jazz, pop, hip-hop, and other music genres play into each scene. These smart choices of song and instrumentation are very noticeable and work in favor of the show.
There’s a lot here to laugh at and guest appearances from celebrities like Gary Gulman, Amy Sedaris, Big Freedia, Jennifer Coolidge, and Dave Attell provide some wacky levity amid the heaviness of the show’s reality. Ultimately, Beth's goal is to explore mental health, being on the spectrum, family dynamics, marriage, and even the heritage that informs our lives. It’s raw and honest without being shocking and presents its story in a way that’s sure to resonate with viewers.
All 10 episodes of Life & Beth season 2 stream February 16th on Hulu.