Review: ‘Trying’ Season 2 Starring Rafe Spall and Esther Smith

Trying Season 2
Esther Smith and Rafe Spall in season two of ‘Trying,’ (Photo Courtesy of Apple TV+)

Apple TV+’s adult comedy Trying debuted during the middle of quarantine, arriving when there seemed to be a glut of series vying for our attention while we were cooped up indoors. The eight-episode first season premiered in May 2020 and quickly became a must-see for Apple TV+ subscribers, a bright spot during a year that needed as many fun diversions as possible.

The British comedy focuses on a couple whose attempts to conceive have proven fruitless. With few options available, Nikki (Esther Smith) and Jason (Rafe Spall) turned their attention to adoption. Season one found the twosome going to crazy, ridiculously entertaining lengths to impress the adoption committee – from completely redecorating their apartment with borrowed/temporarily purchased goods to begging their friends, family, and past loves to swear they’ll make suitable parents.

Nikki’s infectious optimism perfectly counterbalanced Jason’s more grounded-in-reality, almost fatalistic attitude toward their chances of expanding into a threesome. Fortunately for the unmarried couple, social worker Penny (Imelda Staunton), took an instant liking to the pair and was not only able to overlook their shortcomings but also see their potential.

Season one ended with Nikki and Jason learning they were approved to adopt a child. Season two delves into the actual process of trying to get matched up with an available child. Their struggle is relatable and earnest, with Nikki wearing her heart on her sleeve while the more practical Jason continues to take a cautious approach to the life-changing adoption process.

Are Nikki and Jason actually ready to handle day-to-day parenting duties? No way. But that just puts them on equal footing with all first-time parents. Working in the couple’s favor is their ability to improvise and eventually work their way to being on the same page when dealing with unexpected issues.

If season one taught us anything it’s that Nikki and Jason make a lot of dumb decisions but their hearts are in the right place. When given the choice of two paths, they always manage to take the one that forces them into uncomfortable situations.

Their journey to becoming parents is alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) heartbreaking and hilarious. Because both Esther Smith and Rafe Spall are so incredibly charismatic, it’s impossible not to root for Nikki and Jason’s success. Smith and Spall are so terrific and their on-screen chemistry is so perfect that they practically force us to become invested in Nikki and Jason’s relationship.

The supporting players are fleshed out more in season two, but it’s still obviously the Nikki and Jason show. The new season finds Freddy (Oliver Chris) and Erica (Ophelia Lovibond) adjusting to life apart, and Freddy’s definitely not emotionally mature enough to be going it on his own – although it’s a blast to watch him try.

Imelda Staunton continues to be a scene-stealer as Penny the social worker, a woman who speaks her mind and refuses to back down. Penny’s become one of my favorite characters and Staunton absolutely nails Penny’s take-no-prisoners approach to life.

Season one introduced us to Nikki, Jason, and their motley crew of friends and relatives. Setup now complete, season two has a slightly more relaxed pace. Trying season one was beautifully written and brilliantly performed, and the humor, warmth, and wit that made the series’ first eight episodes so joyous and engaging are equally evident in season two.

Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso snagged all the awards attention following its first season. I’d argue the streaming service’s Trying, created by Andy Wolton, is just as worthy of attention. It’s a true must-see comedy that ensnares you with its smart humor and irresistible charm.

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Season one is available to stream now on Apple TV+. New season two episodes arrive on Fridays.