So where does Ms. Bamford go in Season 2, whose eight episodes (down from 12 in Season 1) start streaming Friday? She goes further into the past, showing us Maria’s Minnesota childhood in scenes that, in the three episodes available for review, lack the dark urgency of the first season’s family moments. More rewardingly, she goes into the future, where Maria finds herself making a streaming series much like the one we’re watching.
Mostly, though, she’s in the show’s present, where Maria’s relationship with Scott (Olafur Darri Olafsson) has reached the point of cohabitation. The lessons of Season 1 may have been that fear and mental illness never go away, but now they play out in milder, cuter and more legible ways, with more clearly defined messages but less wild inventiveness in the telling.
Maria has to accept Scott’s poor money-management skills and trust that he’s not robbing her; he has to accept her wild-animal household habits and trust that she’s taking her meds. Maria reassures him with one of the straight-up public-service-style pronouncements she frequently makes: “I was getting irritable. And defensive. But those aren’t always signs of hypomania. They’re normal human emotions.”
With a few exceptions — a sudden shift into wide-screen proportions for a few moments of horror-movie sendup, a laugh track that turns three talking raccoons into retro sitcom characters — this material is handled relatively straightforwardly, at least compared to the constant, riotous formal experimentation of the first season.