A great second season’s about as difficult to pull off as a great second album (if one were to multiply the album length by a minimum of ten).
Every once in a while, a sophomore season will up the ante and blow the roof off its predecessor (see Mad Men, Justified and The Leftovers to name a few), or it'll just be a middle-of-the-oad affair, unspectacular but by no means unbearable.
There are, however, times when things fall so far short of the mark that we’re left feeling furious at the endless hours we wasted binge-watching.
Even in this golden age of TV consumption, not everything can be a winner and there’s plenty of shows from yesteryear right up to today that fall far short of the mark they themselves set.
That's partly because creators often had their whole lives to create instalment number one and just a few short months to rush out that all important number two. There have been many times where shows bounced back from a rough season two to restore their greatness, but there are occassions where a once promising series simply never recovers...
7. The Affair
Season 1 of The Affair provided a slow burn, character-driven drama split between the differing perspectives of its leads. Season 2 provided a scandalous melodrama of paternity tests, a questionable end twist to the central murder mystery, arson, super storms and that awkward moment where Noah accidentally enjoyed watching his daughter get off with someone in a jacuzzi.
For all the twists and turns of its overwhelmingly plotted sophomore outing, The Affair wound up feeling disappointing rather than thrilling. Losing track of the he-said, she-said appeal of its debut, The Affair’s high quality drama aspirations quickly devolved into pulpy soap opera.
Rather than continuing to focus on the individual nature of experience and memory, Season 2 grows lost in trying to wow the audience with some semblance of a definitive truth.
Additional issues can be found in the presentation of Noah’s smash hit novel, Descent. At various points throughout Season 2, Noah is regarded as a breakout literary genius. This concept is undercut every time we hear a reading from it including the cumbersomely worded, “She was sex - the very definition of it, the reason the word was invented. No marriage, no matter how strong, could survive her.”
Not exactly Philip Roth is he?