There is a cruel twist often experienced by fans of a low rated but beloved freshman bubble show that is given a last minute reprieve and second chance at life, aka a second season.
That cruel twist is that the show you fought to save still ends up dying a kind of death; not an outright kill to ascend to TV heaven but a worse kind of death, a living death where its once beautiful original soul is sucked out and its hulking shell possessed by something that looks kind of like what you loved and acts kind of like what you once loved but is just that much off from what you remember: You don’t have your show. You have a Pod Show.
Initially, you overlook the changes, believing that having the show back is better than not having it at all, but the small changes begin to add up and become harder and harder to overlook; instead of being the show you prayed to the TV gods to spare, you are watching a stranger dancing in your beloved’s corpse and mocking its memory. You begin to wish that you had never pushed to save the show and allowed it to die a noble honorable death as the beautiful gem it had once been rather than the floundering hybrid of original premise and network mandated changes Frankensteinian monstrosity that it is now.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how I feel watching the second season of Up All Night. (I also felt that way watching season two of FOX’s Human Target which is a whole different blog post of laments and regrets at the destruction of a very cool show ::sigh::) In regards to Up All Night, it feels like the NBC mad scientists hacked up season one and added what it thought would be new and better parts to the body only to end up with a body with no head nor heart, just a lot of kicking limbs.
Look, I get that shows especially barely renewed shows have to undergo a few tweaks with the hopes of gaining a new audience, but UAN didn’t have a few tweaks, they went a complete 180 from the DNA of its first season: first time onetime party parents have to adjust to the new status quo of having a baby; working mom, Reagan, has to find balance between her demanding boss and BFF, Ava, and dad. Chris, has to figure out what to do with himself as a stay at home dad after giving up a successful law practice. Bam. Simple premise, lots of adventures to be had. No, it wasn’t fully realized in the first season and there were issues juggling Ava and “The Ava Show” and how it fit in the family sitcom that Reagan and Chris and their daughter found themselves in, but you know what? That was an interesting dilemma. Seeing a working mother who liked to party having to deal with not being the party girl anymore and dealing with the realization that her crazy job was going to have to be shifted in favor of her daughter. You don’t see a lot of that on TV these days. You don’t see a lot of career men turned stay-at-home Dad dilemmas either. This is what made Up All Night an interesting show. How these two very much in love people navigated their new life as a family with the old life that they still were attached to.
And what did NBC do? Took away all the interesting stuff and changed the premise of the show to ‘make it more accessible’. The Ava Show is cancelled and so Reagan decides to stay at home with her daughter, while Chris decides to go back to work. Ava is now relegated to the wacky best friend side show and for good measure a random brother (who was never even spoken of in season one) of Reagan’s is added for no other purpose than to be another regular male on the show who is in the mix of things but who really has no purpose.
In other words, Up All Night became a typical sitcom of housebound mom, working dad, wacky best friend, and wacky brother. It became a trope. And frankly, it feels like the writers aren’t too happy with the changes because where there was once heart and sincerity and funny, real one liners about post pregnancy life , there is insincere random, inorganic storytelling that has nothing of the flawed charm of the first season. This show is broken, not fixed, as NBC has hoped; instead of building on the strengths of the first season, the weaknesses have been exposed and made even worse with the resulting twenty-two minutes being a bitter disappointment. Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and Maya Rudolph deserve a better show and had a better show last year when they started out. Yeah, it was quirky and uneven but it was a lot more original and entertaining with its flaws than it is now as a Pod Show. Given the ratings there is no doubt that UAN will be cancelled and not see a third season, its cancellation not due to the fans not caring anymore, but caring too much about the show they once loved to in any way support the current show that bears its name but not its heart and soul. Me? I’m a ‘ride or die/go down with the ship kind’ of girl. I watched X-Files and 24 to the bitter end and I’ll watch Up All Night as well. I’m a sadistic loyal television watcher that way.