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Casual - Season One - Review: As Dysfunctional As It Gets

Hello everyone. I've just started as a reviewer for Spoiler TV so I'm trying to catch up with everything that has already aired. That's why I'm making a season one review before I start with the first episodes of season two.

Also a heads-up: English is not my first language, so I apologize in advance for any mistakes I might make.

"Will the random collection of recycled atoms in my brain connect to yours? And if they don't, will it even matter? Most people go through life alone, whether they know it or not. If those people could just find each other, maybe they'd live a little better."

Casual is a half-hour Hulu dramatic comedy, starring Michaela Watkins (Valerie), Tommy Dewey (Alex Cole) and Tara Lynn Barr (Laura Meyers). It's funny, quirky, and sometimes very awkward, but also very sharp and well written. The humor is very dark, so sensitive people might want to keep away. The show focuses on Valerie, a psychologist who moves to her brother Alex's house with her teenage daughter, Laura. It shows a very dysfunctional family with a great chemistry and a profound cynicism towards life in general.

Season Recap:

The pilot starts off at their father's funeral, where the tree of them make fun of everyone and talk about how much they don´t buy people's pain. This turns out to be Alex's nightmare though he feels their attitude on the dream is quite realistic.

"Even in my dreams I don't relate to people"

The story actually picks up with Valerie, who is in the process of divorcing her husband, Drew (Zak Orth), who cheated on her with a younger woman. She has just started getting into online dating and has been hooked up by her brother, creator of the "Snooger" app, who also uses it himself to get matched with whomever he wants.

So, in the very first episode, they go off to meet their dates at the same restaurant and later meet up in the bathroom to criticize them. She's out with Ian, who doesn't stop talking about how old she is and how well she's aging, and he's out with Amy, a gorgeous fitness freak that's on the Paleolithic diet and says there's scientific proof that cavemen lived longer healthier lives. Both dates walk in on them in this situation and Amy (pissed off) tells Ian that the app is not the one that paired them all up.

Amy to Ian: You're probably not compatible, he rigged the algorithm.
Alex: I wrote the algorithm.
Ian: That's dishonest.
Alex: Online dating is dishonest. You put up your best pictures and personality traits, you lie about how much money you make, how many partners you've had... I've seen both your profiles, they're filled with lies.
Ian turns to Amy: Do you like scotch?
Amy: I would drink anything right now.
Alex: See, even your caveman diet is a lie.
Amy: F*ck you.

The next day, after fighting Drew with the divorce, they both want full custody of Laura, Valerie decides to go to a bar and pick up a stranger, Leon. The next morning when she wakes up, she finds him eating breakfast with her family.

Valerie: What the f*ck is wrong with you?
Alex: Um, lots of things?
Valerie: You invited him to breakfast?
Alex: Yeah, I wanted to make waffles.

Alex takes a liking to Leon and, on one of the adventures he drags him into, Alex buys coke from a cop and gets arrested, while Laura does too for underage drinking. Later she thanks him for being a bigger screw up than her. She's actually having a hard time adjusting to the divorce, though she doesn't want to show it, and she's trying to find some solid ground to stand on. Or at least a few distractions from her problems, as is her crush on her photography teacher.

In one of Valerie's online encounters, she meets Randy (Chris McGarry), with whom she has a very honest and interesting conversation. I really hope they use him in the future since they had amazing chemistry and it was one of the best scenes of the season. Valerie's road to post-divorce self-discovery will lead her to explore situations that will eventually tear her family apart. To make things worse, their mother, Dawn (Frances Conroy), makes an appearance and starts driving them crazy since, of course, they blame their parents for how dysfunctional they are.

"Our parents thought domestication was unnatural. They slept around and left us to fend for ourselves. It's a wonder we aren't feral"

Valerie: I'm gonna toss her off your deck.
Alex: No. Don't do that. You know she'll survive and you'll have to push her around in a wheelchair.

Alex is actually looking for love, though he doesn't want to admit it, but he's looking in all the wrong places. When he finally finds Emmy (Eliza Coupe), they really connect but she's open and has relationships with other people as well. Also, he has a problem with the company because they're trying to get rid of him, since he's always trying to fix the code they don't want fixed and tends to screw up. When he learns Valerie wants to buy her own house he adopts a puppy, Carl to convince her to stay but realizes he's not fit to take care of him and gives him back.

Laura has always had a lot of freedom, thanks to her mother's trusting parenting, and feels like they've been a team for a long time. That's until she finds herself betrayed by her when she finds her in bed with her crush. Sick of betrayal, she's frustrated and starts taking very potentially dangerous roads.

What tips Valerie over the edge though, is when Dawn tells them she's marrying their father (Fred Melamed), after so many years of "freedom" and continuous casual sex with strangers. She feels this is an insult to their childhood since they had always excused them by saying they just weren't capable of being normal, but now that they were old they suddenly decided they could have a normal marriage. Valerie tries to keep it together, but she takes MDMA with Emmy the night before the wedding and they sleep together. Later she accepts that, on some subconscious level, she did it to break her and Alex up so she wouldn't end up alone.

Heartbroken, Alex goes to Leon who tries to cheer him up by going to find Carl, but when they find out he died, Alex tries to crash into a wall. The car doesn't let him, so he feels relieved and goes home where he finds Laura trying to run away. They convince her to stay and he breaks up with Emmy.

The season ends in a church, in a very similar situation to the dream sequence from the beginning. But, instead of a funeral, they're at their parents' wedding, on the road to recovery but still very far away from it.

Best Quotes and dialogues:

"This whole faculty is depraved. It's like Eyes Wide Shut on minimum wage"

"My brother made breakfast for my one-night stand"


Alex: Who's that?
Laura: Molly Hartsler. She's a total whack job, her husband killed himself last year.
Alex: That makes sense.
Laura: You tried to kill yourself, didn't you?
Alex: Debatable.
Laura: My mom said you jumped off your deck
Alex: I did, but it was more exploratory than anything. I only broke my leg.


Leon: So your mom and you uncle, they're very... close.
Laura: Yeah. It's pretty normal, except when they shower together.


Leon: You guys have a strange relationship.
Alex: How? We love each other and we're honest. What's strange about that?
Leon: I have a sister and a brother. We're not honest about anything.
Alex: Then, who do you share the intimate details of your life with?
Leon: Nobody. I keep the bottled up inside like a normal person.


Leon: We dated for three years, were engaged for another. A month before te wedding I found tapes... a collection of all men AND women she's been with, up to and including the time we were together.
Alex: Wow, who even has a VCR?
Leon: She does.


Alex: Have you ever hooked up with someone covered in tattoos? It's a transformative experience, it's like f*king a museum. Okay? You with me?
Leon: I'm gonna regret this either way.
Alex: You know, I'm starting to like you.
Leon: Yeah, that's what scares me.


Leon: So, you´re guilting her into staying?
Alex: Families are founded on guilt.


Season two should pick up on how they manage to fix all the damage season one left behind. So, what did you think about Casual's first season? I'd love to read your thoughts.

About the Author - luana arturi
Future journalist and a reviewer for Spoiler TV. Enjoys reading, writing and watching TV shows. All-time favorites: The Leftovers, Sherlock, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Dexter, House, House of Cards, How to Get Away With Murder, Orphan Black and Hannibal (among many others).
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