Every time I’m on a Zoom call, in an effort to counteract the general awkwardness that is people who are often having their only human interaction for the week, there’s some small talk about what people are watching – that happens regardless of whether it’s a TV industry call or one about, like, community garden procedures.
On each one, when it’s my turn (or even if it isn’t – I find interrupting, something I both do and hate that I do, is even harder to avoid on video conferencing) I say ‘Is anyone watching Homecoming?’ Usually I get 70% blank stares to 30% one person nodding giddily while the rest of the people give me blank stares.
I get it. We all miss series that are ‘amazing and important’, including me. Every day, it seems, I have to use my shame-face when I admit to never having seen Better Call Saul, or The Haunting of Hill House, or dozens of others, because I’m watching Mrs. America or What We Do In The Shadows or more. So I’m just going to use the tried and true listicle format to tell you about the top reasons you should watch Homecoming Season 2 this weekend.
You can start this season
Season 2 of Homecoming, on Amazon Prime, stars Janelle Monae, Stephan James, Hong Chau, Chris Cooper, and Joan Cusack. They are predictably awesome – like, ‘star-studded cast is amazing’ isn’t exactly a headline, but rest assured you’re delighted to have all of them.
But the beauty is that that’s the Season 2 cast. James and Chau appear in Season 1, too, and watching Season 1 can give you background, but you don’t need it. The first season of Homecoming, which was essentially a two-hander between Julia Roberts and Stephan James with a side of Bobby Cannavale, was adapted from a Gimlet podcast, and it starts somewhat slow – but Season 2 is a straight-up thriller, Janelle Monae is in almost every scene, and anything you don’t know is something you’re not supposed to know yet. You don’t have to feel like you’ve missed the boat.
They Are Short
Look, who among us isn’t exhausted at the end of the day, when a whole episode of a show, let alone a season, seems insurmountable? But one of the amazing things that’s happening in the space of more TV than we can consume even when it is explicitly our job is the birth of the half-hour drama. It’s almost a side effect of web series – when you spend the time in conversations or smaller moments or stories that aren’t comedic but aren’t sweeping enough for a traditional hourlong show, you have these dynamic, power-filled half hours. Homecoming never, ever stops to take a breath, and it’s also somehow got time for lots of silences. Did I mention that Season 2 is only 7 half-hours? You can watch that in a night, if you want to… start right now. Go on…
As inconceivable as it is, there are still a lot of people who, though they know Janelle Monae as a performer or a red carpet icon, might think that her roles up to this point are so much stunt-casting or baby steps into the acting field. This is obviously utterly false, but I kind of blame it on the simultaneous releases of Moonlight and Hidden Figures – if they’d come out sequentially it would have been even more obvious that she is the acting powerhouse we’ve been needing. But like I said, everything in Homecoming is about her and around her, and through her character (whose name I’m leaving out because even that is a spoiler, believe it or not) we get to know a whole different side of Hong Chau’s Audrey Temple, in ways both different from season 1 and different from Temple’s public face. Plus, if you did watch Season 1, or if you want to be a purist about the show and watch Season 1 first, you get to see the complete and total joy, and the masterful talent, of Stephan James doing a whole season of two-handers with Julia Roberts, plus an entirely different style of two-handers with Janelle Monae; that is, technically, a spoiler, but what show in its right mind is going to have those two immense talents and not put them together at the centre of it?
Plus, if you don’t identify as a Sci-Fi fan but do remember loving Isaac Asimov or 1984 or that strange kind of storytelling that I basically call ‘dystopia or science fiction – which came first?’ this is for you. If you devoured Stranger Things without ever calling yourself a creature/horror fan or if you’ve ever wondered why all the stories in those spaces seem like they’re about the same three guys… this is not that.
I promise it’s going to be an unexpected joy, and, lest I show my age by reiterating this point, a short and easily consumable joy. You’re so close to the satisfaction of this well-crafted season already!
Thank you in advance to the 2.7 people who are about to write to me saying you loved it but nobody else will talk about it with you – I can’t wait to squeal about [redacted] and also [redacted] with you!