“Chapter Two: You Can’t Hurry Love” finds the characters considering their future in this fanciful and thus far unengaging version of NYC.
This recap of Katy Keene Season 1, Episode 2, “Chapter Two: You Can’t Hurry Love”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Katy Keene is a weird show, being as it is a spinoff from Riverdale that makes a point of being absolutely nothing like Riverdale. Aside from some on-the-nose references – “Rough place!” – Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) could basically be from anywhere, and she’s the only meaningful connection to the place and the show in what is otherwise a fanciful fairytale about big city living, romance, and making it in one way or another.
Sure, there are some similarities – angst and melodramatic relationships being a couple. But it’s a very different show, is what I’m saying, and what Katy Keene Episode 2, “Chapter Two: You Can’t Hurry Love” proves is that without the murder and mystery it’s a lot more difficult to care about all the other stuff.
The table-setting pilot did a decent job of establishing these idealistic characters in this facsimile of New York, where everyone is immaculately dressed and has careers orbiting the planets of fashion, gossip, and stage musicals, and the sophomore effort does a decent job confirming that there really isn’t much else to Katy Keene beyond that. The main dramatic thrust of the aptly-titled “You Can’t Hurry Love” is whether or not the titular Katy (Lucy Hale) wants to marry her adoring boyfriend K.O. (Zane Holtz), and it’s difficult to articulate the extent to which I don’t care one way or the other.
And this is largely the fault of the show. Katy Keene Episode 2 very briefly shares how the two met and reiterates time and again how much they’re genuinely in love, and how his family became hers after the death of her mother; despite some vague flirting with Prince Eroll (Saamer Usmani), she’s perfectly happy to be with K.O., she just doesn’t want to marry him quite yet – it’s about as unengaging as such a storyline could possibly be. Katy is easily the least interesting character in her own show, and K.O.’s deliberately caring and sincere anti-archetype makes him boring more than charming or likable.
I’m much better disposed towards Jorge (Jonny Beauchamp), who is fantastic in Katy Keene Episode 2 despite the character making some head-scratching decisions about his future on Broadway. He’s informed by his agent that he’s on the verge of being blacklisted for his outburst at the director who wanted him to be more masculine in his audition for Mannequin, and that seemed like something a gay man who moonlights as a drag queen would take rather personally. Thus, I was perfectly happy with that as the justification for Jorge’s career woes, and the idea of this determined young man rebelling against the ingrained attitudes of the insular Broadway community seemed smart. But “Chapter Two: You Can’t Hurry Love” does the character no favors by having him land a touring role in a rap musical after a dynamite audition, and then turning the part down at the last minute because he didn’t want to leave his friends in New York. Katy Keene Episode 2 tries to justify this decision in other roundabout ways that threaten the future of his Ginger Lopez alter-ego, but it doesn’t take; the best character in the show by far suddenly just seems a bit petty.
The show’s fairytale vision of NYC is perhaps best exemplified in Josie, who hilariously believed the $1000 rent was going to be split three ways and thus has to go and find supplementary income, which she talks her way into at an old-school record store managed by Chubby (André De Shields). The store is, wouldn’t you know it, on the verge of closure thanks to a landlord dispute, so Josie turns to Alexander Cabot (Lucien Laviscount) to save the place. Of course, you don’t get Alexander without Alexandra (Camille Hyde), who wants to bring the store into modernity by getting rid of all the things which make it a local industry landmark. To say Josie can’t stop mentioning that she comes from oh-so-dangerous Riverdale, you’d really think she’d have more in the way of common sense.
But she’s less annoying that Pepper (Julia Chan), who in Katy Keene Episode 2 transitions from the role of enigmatic socialite to struggling gossip blogger living a debt-ridden double-life. As annoying as the character is, Pepper probably represents the most intriguing narrative possibilities going forward – how far might she go to maintain her lavish front, and who’s going to – inadvertently or not – foot the bill for a lifestyle she obviously can’t sustain? It might be interesting to find out, but then again it might not.
Either way, Katy Keene is lacking something, though it’s hard to put a finger on what quite yet. It’s early days, of course, and there are plenty of ideas and dynamics here that can be mined for decent drama if the show gets out of its own way. But in the meantime it’s a pretty uninteresting look at twentysomething Big Apple idealism, and it’s going to need more than that if it hopes to establish the same kind of fervent fanbase its predecessor has.
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