Just as funny, just as moving, and just as human, this is a wonderfully heartwarming docuseries.
The Casketeers is one of those shows that makes you thankful for Netflix. Where else could you expect to find a docuseries about Maori funeral directors so rich in humor, warmth, culture, and life? It’s one of those shows that you wish more people watched, just so you could have surprising discussions about it. Thank goodness, then, for The Casketeers Season 2, a brisk eight-episode follow-up equally brimming with all the things that made the first season so great.
If anything, the principal complaint about The Casketeers Season 2 is that there isn’t enough to it, which is an odd criticism of a show that requires death for its material. But that’s all part of the show’s secret weapon, which is its ability to present death not as maudlin or tragic, but as beautiful, moving and oftentimes hilarious. This is a show with such a deft balancing of tone that it almost has to be seen to be believed. It’ll have you wiping away tears of both laughter and sadness, sometimes blurring the lines so closely that you can’t tell which is which.
Directors Francis and Kaiora Tipene remain the eccentric heart of The Casketeers Season 2, which continues to document the day-to-day running of their business with their own personal foibles, and contrast that with the services they offer to their clients. For all the show’s lighthearted slapstick, it’s incredibly adept at tugging on the audience’s heartstrings, as the Tipenes deliver respectful and celebratory send-offs that are often steeped in Maori culture and tradition. The presence of cameras feels almost accidental. You could have stepped into the show yourself, to arrange a service for your own loved one, and I can’t imagine the vibe or the outcome would be much different.
In this way, The Casketeers Season 2 almost subverts the inherent cliches and criticisms of reality television. Nobody is playing up for the camera. Nobody is pretending to be a good person for the benefit of the audience; they are simply captured being good people, and there’s never a sense that they would behave any differently were the cameras not there. This is a show utterly devoid of cynicism. It’s beautiful and brilliant, and funny and moving, and everyone should watch it.