I’ve gotten used to second seasons that don’t seem quite as special as first seasons. It’s often the case that the second season is just about as good as the first, but audiences aren’t getting that rush of discovery that they had the first time around. They’ve already met the characters and figured out the show’s rhythm, so there’s no thrill of the new.
There are exceptions, of course, most recently the second season of “The Bear,” which managed to be a revelation as it expanded the parameters of the first season. But still, the slight second-season letdown — it’s not really a slump — is common.
I’m thinking about this because of the returns of Apple TV+’s “The Afterparty” and Starz’s “Minx,” both of which had stellar first seasons. They came back this month with enjoyable second seasons, but with fewer surprises to offer than they did the first time around. This time, we know going in how “The Afterparty” operates, with one character telling his or her side of the story — and telling it in a style that matches their sensibility — in each episode. This week’s episode, released Wednesday, is a lot of fun, as it’s told in the form of a Wes Anderson movie.
“Minx,” which was canceled by Max but picked up by Starz, continues the lighthearted fictional story of the birth of the first erotic magazine for women in the 1970s. But in season 2, the magazine has been started, and we already understand the sparring nature of the rapport between feminist editor Joyce Prigger (Ophelia Lovibond) and publisher Doug Renetti (Jake Johnson). We know there will be plenty of male nudity and raunchy banter amid the tension between feminism and sexist exploitation.
This season Elizabeth Perkins joins them as a super-wealthy woman who decides to back the magazine. Her support comes with strings attached, of course. Also this season, some of the supporting characters get more attention, notably Lennon Parham as the endearing Shelly, Joyce’s sister, who is going through some identity evolution, like everyone around her. The ensemble — it’s almost a workplace comedy — is well-defined, energetic, and amusing.