Wanderlust Episode 2 didn’t do much to improve things, but it is still moderately amusing, and the kids are starting to steal the show.
Nick Payne’s frank relationship drama continued tonight, but Wanderlust Episode 2 revealed something telling about the show: It’s hard to care about middle-age promiscuity when there are dumb teenagers to laugh at instead.
Still, the show is still ostensibly about Alan (Steven Mackintosh) and Joy (Toni Collette), so we may as well start there. After deciding last week that an open relationship was the best way to salvage their lustless, deteriorating marriage, they both cheerily set off in Wanderlust Episode 2 to their respective extra-marital liaisons. Alan fell back into the much younger arms of his pothead colleague, Claire (Zawe Ashton), while Joy reenlisted the services of her taser-enthusiast copper fling, Marvin (William Ash).
And it all went reasonably well – at least at first. But it turns out that neither Claire nor Marvin are particularly keen on being glorified masturbatory aids for a married couple, so when openness trumped sex on the second-date agenda, it blew up in both Alan and Joy’s faces. Luckily, though, it brought them closer together, with the thought of each other having sex with younger, handsomer people evidently and perplexingly giving them both a bit of a kick. Unfortunately their passionate reunion was cut short by their eldest daughter, Laura (Celeste Dring), arriving home leathered and puking all over the house.
Here, I suppose, is where I get a bit confused. See, if all the playing away was supposed to fix Alan and Joy’s marriage, which apparently it did to a certain extent, why were they both so keen to just continue playing away? Wasn’t it enough to get that spark back; to find each other worth having sex with again? “It made me really want you,” Alan said the morning after, which in my estimation is not the thing to say if you want your tender, hungover daughter not to be sick again. But I digress.
Of more immediate interest in Wanderlust Episode 2 is Alan and Joy’s son, Tom (Joe Hurst), whose infatuation with a sixth-form sexpot (Anya Chalotra) has graduated from awkwardly bringing up a mutual love of Jonathan Franzen novels to awkwardly peddling tickets to a Zadie Smith talk. That kid’s going to be a virgin forever.
Then again, perhaps not. Under pressure, he turned to his clearly-adoring best friend Michelle (Isis Hainsworth) to suggest that they “practice”; a gloriously idiotic thing to do, I’m sure you agree, but seeing as she’s so helplessly head-over-heels for the dork she took it quite well.
Meanwhile, Alan and Joy’s younger daughter, Naomi (Emma d’Arcy), might be teeing up a romance with their confused neighbour, Rita (Anastasia Hille), and Laura found herself on a terrible date with a smug carpenter from which only Joy’s client, Jason (Royce Pierreson), could rescue her. He’s the fella who said “pendulous” last week, so I’m immediately suspicious of him. But he’s nice enough to take Laura to a local bar where Joy is currently picking up another strange man. It came as a bit of a shock to everyone involved, but in the short term it’s probably the best thing that could have happened for a show which is still struggling to actually be about something.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.