There are some ideas and performances to like in The A List Season 2, but ultimately the plot is just too determinedly ridiculous to be taken seriously.
This review of The A List season 2 is spoiler-free.
Salvaged by Netflix after being axed by the BBC, The A List is a B-tier teen drama with enough sketchy acting, questionable decision-making and nonsense plotting to make one wonder why the streaming giant bothered. Of course, it’s obvious why — teen dramas are popular! Youthful, good-looking people sell subscriptions, and wacky plots get new seasons greenlit. The A List Season 2 has plenty of good-looking young people and far too much ridiculous claptrap, but you get the sense it’s not in anyone’s best interests to keep it going beyond this point.
With a first season basically styled as a British teen Lost, the second doubles down on genre-blending ideas that are outlandish enough to have been worth a miniseries of explanation each. The urge to cram everything from mind control to ghosts into a single season whiffs of desperation, more than anything. There’s mystery to spare, and it’s sometimes compelling, but only in the way that not knowing the answer to something usually is. Eventually, the big swings at truly unexpected twists and turns cease to mean anything at all, functioning as just a cheap way of keeping an audience guessing and talking.
All the usual teen tropes are here — love triangles and petty rivalries and all that. But they’re lost within a melange of competing ideas that drowns out everything, including some worthwhile performances, especially from the series’ ostensible lead Lisa Ambalavanar. Midge (Indianna Ryan) emerges as the season’s primary antagonistic force as the action picks up six weeks after the conclusion of the first season. The A List Season 2 is better than that debut outing, no doubt about it; better acted, certainly, but also more consistently engaging, probably because it only runs 8 episodes rather than 13. Several of the same problems crop up again, though.
With short episode runtimes, several supporting characters are underserved and development is thin on the ground. What clearly matters is building to the next big twist, and while that’s a fine strategy for keeping people watching it’s not the best one for making a show truly memorable. It’s easy to roll one’s eyes at some of the developments here, and it’s all a bit daft to be taken seriously. In such a competitive market, there’s little justification for The A List to continue beyond this point, so I suppose fans should enjoy it while it lasts.