‘Trying’ Season 4 Review: “I Love This Series, Even With Its Flawed View On Adoption”

By Daniel Hart
Published: June 23, 2024 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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The Family in Trying Season 4 Image for Review Purposes
Trying Season 4 Promotional Image (Credit - Apple TV+)
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Summary

Trying continues to be the most underrated comedy of recent times, mostly because it’s stuck on Apple TV+, but it deserves the plaudits anyway.

No word of a lie, when I started writing this review, I wrote: “If someone told me that Esther Smith and Rafe Spall were together in real life, I’d believe it, such is their chemistry in Trying.” A quick internet search ruined that opening, and now I’m caught with my pants down as I continue to gush over this series as it embarks on an evolving Season 4. 

I wish I hadn’t searched for it. I’d like to believe that these characters resulted from well-worked chemistry and workshopping with the script, but Jason and Nikki are the product of two actors who truly understand each other intimately in real life.

A Brief Love Letter To ‘Trying’

And that does not take away from the warmth of this series. Apple TV+ has one of the best on-screen British couples in recent times. I say this as a compliment, but Nikki and Jason represent the average couple that excels in their responsibilities. A couple that can overcome the hardest of challenges with humor and understanding; a duo that understands that the most rewarding relationships come with accountability and a knowing that the reward comes from moving through the bad and the good.

For three seasons, we witnessed this couple desperately wanting the “relationship starter pack”: a marriage, a wonderful home, and a beautiful little family. 

But getting the full sweep is not possible for every couple, and the most emotionally nerve-racking one that destroys many relationships is fertility problems, which are alarmingly increasing globally. 

Season 4 Brings An Opportunity For Scarlett Rayner

Princess in Trying Season 4

Scarlett Rayner as Princess in Trying Season 4 (Credit – Apple TV+)

Season 4 of Trying fast-forwards six years. Nikki and Jason are experienced parents who have adopted Princess and Tyler. With their children a little older, they face new challenges. 

Season 4 is as much about Princess as her parents. She’s entering that rebellious age where an idea can become more dangerous. Princess is curious about her birth mother and wants answers, a premise established in the first episode. As the fourth season progresses, Princess goes to extreme lengths to find her birth mom without letting her adoptive parents know about it. 

This allows Scarlett Rayner to enter the spotlight, the actress who plays the teenage Princess (I’m not going to Google if she’s Esther Smith and Rafe Spall’s daughter). Despite competing with a couple that has captured everyone’s imagination, she easily takes up the screen time. Trying has a new lead character, allowing Nikki and Jason to take the backseat a little.

Trying’s Focus On The Realities Of Adoption Is A Mixed Bag

Nikki, Princess and Jason in Trying Season 4

(L-R) Nikki, Princess, and Jason in Trying Season 4 (Credit – Apple TV+)

Of course, there’s a story here about the pains of adoption, something I’ve had an experience of. At 16 years old, I witnessed my parents adopt a little girl who was nine months old. The process is reassuring, and the social workers celebrate the achievement of adoption. While the stress of going through the process, including legalities and court time, is a pain worth having, I’m not sure my parents understood the emotional stress ahead. 

You see, in mainstream television, adoption is sold as this beautiful component of reality when two people who love each other cannot conceive. But what they miss out on is that children who are adopted have usually had a bad start to life. The trauma has already formed the brain. While I liked our family social worker helping us with the process, I wish, at least for my parents, she was more forward about the challenges ahead. It would have significantly helped. Adoption services are not parenting advice hubs or marriage counselors, but maybe they should add it to their skill set. 

While Trying Season 4 lightens the challenges (it’s a comedy, after all), there’s an understanding that Nikki and Jason are about to endure their most challenging parenting event. I do believe the whole cliche of “adopted children will seek their birth parents” is too on the nose. The problems come way before that and are usually daily grievances. However, I’m grateful that Trying at least tries to tackle them

But then, I could not help questioning the leading characters. How resilient is this fictional couple that even adoption does not break them, even a little? I think this is where Trying enters fantasy over realism because it’s built to be mainly a comedy. In reality, Nikki and Jason would lose themselves a little. Less showers, less sex, less romance, and less communication. They’d at least have to overcome some of these obstacles. I did not get the sense that their marriage was strained or they needed to work on it; perhaps it’s assumed or implied, which is fine for the genre. 

I love this series—and I always will. However, adoption is a strong subject; I think this is its weakness. However, it doesn’t take away from the quality and consistency of the story. I genuinely feel this is one of Apple’s best offerings, and I hope it continues.

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