A worthwhile follow-up with the perfect host that successfully explores our relationship to magic, each other, and ourselves.
Magic for Humans Season 2 debuted globally on Netflix on December 4, 2019.
The trick of Magic for Humans is that magic isn’t really the point of it; it’s just a delivery mechanism for ideas, mostly about who we are as individuals and a species. That’s what the title is about, and it’s how the show differentiates itself from others that are more explicitly about the craft. Magic For Humans, the six-episode second season of which debuted on Netflix today, is able to accomplish this thanks to a couple of different things. The first is its host, Justin Willman, as much a comedian as a he is a magician, and happier than most who make their living through sleight-of-hand and deception. The second is a mastery of a very specific tone; like Willman himself, it’s halfway between a serious display of showmanship and a knockabout excuse for gags and lighthearted questioning of who we are.
This was all true about the first season and remains true about Magic For Humans Season 2, which opens with a holiday-themed episode that suggests real magic might be in the act of giving to others, and ventures from there into territory that explores parenthood, communication, responsibility, truth, and identity. The show remains a collection of eclectic themes and pranks that are rarely just about their in-the-moment pleasure, though it remains entertaining to see the reactions of people to unbelievable things.
Even in the darkened swamplands of internet comment sections, there is no more insufferable sect than those who get precious about magic tricks, and Magic For Humans will hopefully pre-empt some of their ire by handling magic without pretension and po-faced seriousness. Willman never pretends to be exploring some canny cosmic truth, or even particularly big questions about the human condition. The topics raised in the second season’s six episodes — all of which breeze by — are less showy and more fundamental. The magic is a communal thing, shared among children and parents and sportsmen in the spirit of the season. A December release is well-timed.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.