Mae Martin’s hilarious and brutally honest Feel Good returns for a second season and this time it’s deeper, darker and the comedy is even sharper. Managing not to compromise on the comedy and yet never shying away from tough subject matters, Martin’s honest and vulnerable portrayal of their own internal struggle is a tour de force of the sitcom format.
Written by Tresca Mallon
At the end of the first season we saw Mae beginning to spiral as they struggled with their codependent relationship with George and their drug addiction. Season 2 opens in Canada as Mae is preparing to return to the rehab they attended as a teenager. The first episode is a jarring shock to the system. The comedy from season one was so organic and episode one made me afraid that it was going in a more slapstick and infantile direction. However, by episode 2 Mae and George are sharing the screen again and their undeniable chemistry gets the show back on track. Mae and George’s relationship is deeply sensual. They are completely drawn to one another and their connection is undeniable. It is also horribly dysfunctional. However, the obviousness of their flaws is one of the show’s most captivating qualities. While their relationship is loving at its core, Martin’s brilliantly deadpan delivery coupled with Charlotte Ritchie’s endearing awkwardness ensures that the viewer is never drowning in romance. The roleplay scenes stole the entire show and were some of the most hilarious and yet insightful parts of the series.
While the first series focused almost solely on Mae and George’s relationship. Season two tackles larger topics such as gender and the complex and confusing ways in which gender expression presents itself. Martin came out as non-binary in April 2021 and made it clear that their own experience with gender has been far from black and white, commenting in an Instagram post that it is “ongoing and evolving… I love it when people use “they” but I don’t mind “she” at ALL.” This is reflected in the character of Mae who never truly sticks to a standard label. When asked how they identify they reply tongue and cheek with monikers such as “Ryan Gosling” or an “anaemic scarecrow.” There are also examinations of abuse of power, predators within the entertainment industry and statutory rape. Sensitively tackling the intricacies of confronting and exposing predatory behaviour and the realities of the harm this can do to the victim’s themselves. The enormity of these issues are obviously well considered and handled with extreme care by both the writers and the director.
George has a lot of character development in this season as she begins to learn how to vocalise her wants and assert her needs. Charlotte Ritchie perfectly plays with George’s inherited emotional unavailability and her newfound sense of agency which allows her to become more present and realistic in her relationship with Mae. George has always acted as foil to Mae’s more impulsive character, but as she begins to find an autonomy outside her relationship she bounces off other characters and has some wonderfully comedic moments of her own. We also get an insight into George’s character from her relationship with her emotionally stunted father (Anthony Head) and her slightly unhinged mother (Pippa Haywood).
Feel Good has a host of brilliant side characters, many of which have been imbued with a new depth this season. Charlotte’s roommate Phil (Phil Burgers) undoubtedly the sweetest character, is given a lot more screen time as he becomes a key player in Mae and George’s relationship. The development of the friendship between him and George is simply adorable. Jordan Stephens (of Rizzle Kicks fame) is a pleasant surprise as George’s colleague and brief love interest. He absolutely nails the socially conscious, culturally aware and extremely pretentious Elliott.
In a similar vein to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, Martin has chosen to bring the series to an end after two seasons Ending with a palpable sense of hope, we leave beloved characters better than we found them as their short arcs are perfectly rounded off. Un-apologetically queer and unabashedly candid, Feel Good will certainly make you feel something. Ironically, that something may be spiralling into an existential crisis about your own identity, relationships and why you will never write something this great (or maybe that’s just me).