PICK OF THE DAY THIS WAY UP -Tin Tức
Set in the months before COVID-19 brought the world to a grinding halt, Season 2 of “This Way Up” sees its main character, Aine (writer-creator-EP Aisling Bea), navigating fits and starts in her mental health journey. For those unfamiliar with the BAFTA-winning show — really, you need to add it to your watchlist, stat — the dark comedy is about a 30-something rebuilding her life after a nervous breakdown and a stay at a rehabilitation facility. It’s one of the most genuinely touching explorations of loneliness, self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and the desire for connection I’ve seen — right up there with “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Fleabag.”
This season, Aine is feeling more confident: she’s embarking on a relationship with Richard (Tobias Menzies), the father of one of her ESL students; considering starting her own school with her boss, James (Ekow Quartey); and becoming close friends with her roommate, Bradley (Kadiff Kirwan). But as she lives her pre-lockdown life — helping her sister Shona (Sharon Horgan, who also exec produces) plan her wedding, trying to keep her romance with Richard from affecting her work, with moderate success — the reality of her depression is always there, threatening to return at any moment and throw a wrench into everything.
The fact that Aine’s mental health struggles are a throughline in “This Way Up” — not an arc that’s wrapped up in a neat bow at the end of Season 1 — just makes me appreciate the show even more. Her breakdown and its aftermath do not define Aine, nor are they anything to be ashamed of — but they are a part of her story, something she deals with on a day-to-day basis. As someone who experiences depression, I feel seen when I watch “This Way Up.” I’m sure I’m not alone in that.
Just as Aine’s mental health journey is only one part of her story, it’s also only one part of this series. Other goings-on in Season 2 include Shona getting ready to marry her longtime partner, Vish (Aasif Mandvi), despite her attraction to her colleague Charlotte (Indira Varma). The Season 1 finale saw Shona and Charlotte sharing a kiss the night they announced a new business venture — the same night Shona accepted Vish’s marriage proposal.
As Aine and Shona contend with their secrets and the collision of their private and professional worlds, they lean on one another to get through it all. The sisters’ bond is the heart of the series. In the very first episode, it’s Shona who takes Aine home from rehab. Without spoiling anything, Aine mirrors that act of love and support this season, showing up for her sister when she needs her, no questions asked. The two are sisters, but also friends. No matter how bad things get for either of them — and on this show, things can get pretty bleak — Aine and Shona are there for one another. Please, oh please, let us get another season of these two messing up, chatting, giving each other shit, and being the loves of each other’s lives.
“This Way Up” Season 2 is now streaming on Hulu.