‘Future Man’ season 2 review: the terrific sci-fi comedy series returns

Comfort food comedy returns for a second season.

One of my favorite comedies of recent years, Hulu exclusive “Future Man” had a debut season that was an incredibly pleasant surprise. Executively produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, season 1 was an incredibly fun show. Every episode, despite a few jokes that didn’t land, was consistently funny with each being separate and episodic.

“Future Man” is about Josh Futturman (Josh Hutcherson), a 20-something working as a custodian at a lab that’s main goal is to research a cure for herpes. He is visited by two super-soldier rebels, Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson), who are from the dystopian future, which happens to be indirectly caused by Josh’s employer. Season 2 continues that story with the trio traveling to an alternate future after accomplishing their mission.

What made season 1 so good was the well-paced humor, writing and the cast. It was never self-serious and it worked incredibly well with every episode by generating consistent laughs. It is important to point out season 1’s many strengths, because “Future Man” season 2 is a sharp departure. In some ways it sticks the landing, and in others it doesn’t.

The big thing to discuss about season 2 is the setting. It stays in one contained setting throughout the entire season, which sets it apart from the first season as each episode bounced decade to decade. One of my favorite aspects of the show is the time travel. Season 2 nearly does away with that entirely, rather focusing on the effects of what the protagonists changed with a singular bottled up setting.

With this, the show also tries to become a more serious science fiction, and it really does work for the most part. However, the show loses much of the vital off-the-wall humor. The balance between the two is wildly inconsistent with only the last few getting back into the consistent joke after joke awesomeness.

The trio is also given unbalanced screen time. In the first season, Futturman was viewer’s anchor to reality. He was billed as the protagonist but Tiger, and especially Wolf, overshadowed him. I liked him enough, but he is given minimal screentime. While it may seem that the writers have chosen to focus on the more interesting characters, even Tiger and Wolf are given ho-hum material.

For Tiger, while Coupe remains an excellent actress with perfect comedic timing, she is perhaps given the shortest end of the stick. She is has the most screen time, but also the worst material. Her character is given the worst fate of all: her narrative becomes contrived. She is written incredibly out of character and it doesn’t let you suspend disbelief because the character arc makes no sense. To make matters worse, the storyline surrounding her is also incredibly long and drawn out, feeling almost artificially long at times, and Coupe certainly deserves better.

I will be frank. Wilson’s performance as Wolf has to be some of the most wonderful and funny character development I have seen recently. For an actor that could easily lead the show on his own, he deserves so much credit. He continues to be the best part by a wide margin, and the show is absolutely worth watching for him alone. What made him so fun in the first place is his wild character arc, going from a deadpan-delivery future soldier to a sensitive Renaissance man. He is given plenty of great lines that made me laugh out loud, but is also given sincere moments too.The show is definitely at its best whenever Wolf is involved. His narrative does drag a bit, but Wilson makes it more than bearable.

Overall, I commend the second season of “Future Man” for doing something way out of left field instead of rehashing the first season, but it has definitely left me questioning how satisfied I am with it. Exploring themes such as the effects of the time travel for an entire season is interesting and is pulled off well at times, but the season long story arc could have been done so much better. I wish it fired on all cylinders the same way as the final three episodes of the season.

I still recommend it, and I need to give it credit. The show had some very sincere moments in it that really didn’t happen often in the first season. For the most part, these felt natural and were some of the strongest moments the series has seen yet. This gives me hope that the writers will learn to balance things more for a potential third season. While things were a little off in this one, it is still more “Future Man.” I enjoy having more of the trio and hope to see the series appreciated by more people.