Back for its second – and final – series, Mae Martin’s rom-com explores trauma and humanity in a sensitive yet tongue-in-cheek way.
Having devoured the first season of the comedy-drama Feel Good back in March 2020, I was thrilled to find that, whilst it hadn’t returned to Channel 4, the critically lauded second season was there for all to (binge) watch on Netflix – which I definitely did.
The series picks up where the last one left off, as Mae’s relationship with George (Charlotte Ritchie) imploded and they returned to old habits. Mae returns to a rehab facility, which enables Lisa Kudrow to shine in her role as Mae’s uber-concerned mother, where old demons resurface as Mae deals with a fellow patient (and some unresolved feelings for George). The rehab scenes are short, yet they provide short bursts of humour as well as an insight into the anxieties that Mae faces. Such emotions manifest themselves in moments such as when Mae hides under the bed, providing the viewer with a deeply vulnerable – if a little claustrophobic – insight into their feelings.
As the series progresses, more issues come to the forefront, such as family, gender identity, and dealing with trauma. Whilst it doesn’t necessarily make you “feel good” – as the title implies – the second series manages to make you feel something, whether it be embarrassment (see the toe-curlingly cringy proposal scene) or empathy, Martin takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster.
Much like the first series, Mae is brilliant. We see their character in a different light this time as they bounce from desperately trying to keep their relationship intact (through some very awkward, but hilarious, role-playing) to trying their best to just keep it together. Where Mae’s strength was found in comedy in the first series, their strength comes from vulnerability in the second. Ritchie also delivers a great performance, and her character is given much more depth in this series – this is particularly apparent through the scenes with her father (Anthony Head). Whilst the chemistry between Mae and George dominated the first series, the two actors shine on their own in this one as both are seen through a different, more vulnerable lens. They are accompanied by a superb supporting cast: Jordan Stephens as George’s “woke” co-worker, Jack Barry as Mae’s funny friend Jack and, one performance I particularly liked in this series, Phil Burgers as George’s roommate Phil.
The first season focused predominantly on Mae and George’s relationship, with sexuality and addiction presenting a barrier for the characters. The second season is full of uncertainty around this relationship, as well as around gender and identity. Whilst the humour isn’t the main focus (I did find the awkward escape room date scene pretty funny, though) in this season, it is as charming and as unapologetically raw as ever.
This show excels in the fact that it isn’t trying to be like any other. The cinematography and soundtrack are simple and beautiful, and it is a tender portrait of not just one person’s life but the life of their friends and family. Whilst we may not all relate to Mae’s story, this last year has taught us a lot about ourselves and the people around us. Most importantly, this year has shown us how much we need each other, a need which is illustrated perfectly in this show – whether it be a need for a physical relationship, a need for family, or a need for closure.
Feel Good remains a refreshing, modern take on the rom-com. It embraces romance while simultaneously showing there is so much more to people than that. The world is constantly shifting and changing and Martin’s rom-com engages with this in such a brilliant way. We might already be aware of Martin’s talent for comedy but this – their first time writing a rom-com – proves there is much more to Martin than we might think and I, for one, am looking forward to whatever they do next.
Feel Good is available to watch now on Netflix
Words by Jen Rose
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