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‘Minx’ season 2 premiere review: “The Perils of Being a Wealthy Widow”

By July 21, 2023No Comments6 min read
Two characters at an out door party. The man is holding up a peace sign to someone off screen.

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the TV show being covered here wouldn’t exist.

Minx is back, and thank god—or perhaps thank Starz—that it all worked out. After a successful first season on HBO Max, Minx was renewed for a second season by the streamer only to become one of the many projects scrapped due to Warner Bros. overhaul and cutbacks, despite Minx’s production for Season 2 having already wrapped.

Fans of the show were outraged, including me, but thank the television gods that Starz swooped in to save the day and picked up Minx’s second season. The trials and tribulations of the TV series may be remembered as a tipping point and a prime example of why the WGA and SAG members are now on strike across the United States due to how HBO treated its writers and actors throughout the process.

Perhaps what’s so intriguing about this kerfuffle of events is how Minx already, due to the nature and context of the show, had been unpacking the unfair treatment of writers, photographers, and models in the 1970s—particularly in the pornography industry. The parallels between reality and fiction pop when analyzing the greater context of Minx’s production.

And funnily enough, the crux of Joyce’s (Ophelia Lovibond) storyline in this first episode of the second season is her inability to choose between publishing houses as a new home for Minx, the magazine. Even though we know the episode was written and filmed before their HBO exodus, within the greater context, it seems serendipitous that it be a focus in Episode 1, “The Perils of Being a Wealthy Widow,” written by Ben Karlin.

As for the rest of the characters, the magazine’s creative director and photographer Richie (Oscar Montoya) and ex-playmate of Bottom Dollar and Centerfold Coordinator Bambi (Jessica Lowe) are out of a job due to Minx’s exit from Bottom Dollar and Joyce’s inability to choose a new publishing house.

Bambi is floating in her hippy way through life, carefree, but Richie is applying pressure on Joyce to choose as he works three jobs and freelances as a photographer on the side to make ends meet. The lack of development in Joyce’s leadership from Seasons 1 to 2 is both surprising and not surprising. There was a wide birth of reckoning for her superlative understanding of the nuances of feminism in the first season, yet in some aspects, we’re back to square one here. While Joyce is jet set, hopping from one meeting to another, the ride-or-die employees suffer the consequences, which she doesn’t fully grasp.

In television, there’s are repetitive character arcs, particularly in half-hour shows. There’s an expectation from audiences for reliability in character predictability that makes comedic half-hours the go-to after work or during dinner. However, in the dramedy half-hour niche, this repetitive arc factor is misplaced. Minx isn’t going episode to episode with a self-contained story every time like a sitcom; the through lines of the series instead echo a dramatic season arc which, to me, makes a lack of progression exhausting.

I hope Joyce’s character arc will shift—perhaps instead of indecision, we will focus on the deeper insecurity at its root. Although, that was also heavily present in the first season. It’s hard because this teetering between decisions is a character signature or trait rather than something the writer’s room intends to correct entirely. Yet, it’s a crutch in the storytelling, slowing everything down and creating a repetitive focus across many episodes. Maybe that will change in the coming episodes, or maybe its reliability was strategically used to draw the audience into the new season.

Meanwhile, Doug (Jake Johnson) and his righthand woman Tina (Idara Victor) are experiencing the repercussions of giving up Minx. They can’t afford to print issues of their other magazines and, certainly, can’t afford to circulate the issues they already printed. As the first episode of a new season, it makes sense that this is the focus. Overall, “The Perils of Being a Wealthy Widow” does a great job of drawing us back into the story. Next to Joyce’s indecision, we have Doug making a million decisions, but none of them good—until he hits gold at the end of the episode.

If anything, it’s clear that to balance these two leads, Joyce and Doug, they need to work in cohesion with one another or else their quirks become unbearably stagnant and detrimental to the rest of the story. Creator and showrunner Ellen Rapoport shows her expertise by illustrating how much they need each other in this episode. We’ve seen what can happen when writers spread their characters too far apart.

For example, Ted Lasso’s final season couldn’t even contain their stories to a half-hour standard due to this spread. Alas, Minx makes the right decision by bringing the magazine back to Bottom Dollar by introducing a new backer, Constance (Elizabeth Perkins), the wealthy widow and idol of Joyce. This third voice and leader will stir the pot and complicate the dynamic between characters. It’s just the correct incremental change to make Season 2 stand out from Season 1 without completely derailing from what the audience expects.

As for Joyce’s sister Shelly (Lennon Parham), I’m very excited to say that her lust for Bambi is ever present, and I can’t wait to see how this love triangle pans out. However, I’m nervous about how this season will handle Tina’s arc. Her cliffhanger in Season 1 had her applying to business school. Now, in Season 2, she’s still working at Bottom Dollar and simply contemplating going while Doug desperately tries to convince her not to go.

Hopefully, this decision isn’t swept under the rug. I want Tina to get her moment and go to school. I know that goes against keeping the characters together and could spread the story too far. However, due to the nature of Doug and Tina’s rapport and the fact that she’s an intelligent Black woman constantly cleaning up the messes of an incompetent white man, I need her to get her win and the recognition she deserves.

I didn’t necessarily find this episode as funny as those in the first season. However, there was plenty of catch-up and ground to be set for the rest of the second season, so I won’t hold that against the writing team. The costumes, sets, and music all gave me that rustic 70’s vibe I loved about the first season. I’m excited as ever to see where Minx goes next. I highly recommend subscribing to Starz, whichever way you can, to support this excellent display of television made with love and comradery from an incredible cast and crew.

New episodes of Minx Season 2 air every Friday on Starz.

Featured image courtesy of Starz

  • 'Minx' 2x02 - 8/10
Isobel Grieve

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