The end is near for Hulu’s “Casual.”
Dropping all eight episodes of the fourth season July 31, the family comedy finally reaches an impasse.
Good thing, too. Because the family trio (divorced single mom, her daughter and her live-in brother) have more downs than a football team, it’s great to know they’ll be able to deal with their problems.
When we peek back in, Valerie (Michaela Watkins) is regretting the way she reacted when her daughter, Laura (Tara Lynne Barr), left and found a new love in her life. She’s bored with her patients, too, and can’t quite get the relationship brother Alex (Tommy Dewey) has with the mother of his child.
The three slide in and out of the picture, deal with outsiders and realize life isn’t just a matter of telling an Amazon device what to do.
Watkins, in fact, has a fun relationship with her egg-shaped “find me” device. “I let the battery die out and pretended it was Tamagotchi and I killed it,” she says.
Alex doesn’t like the new squeeze in Rae’s life and wants to take “co-parenting” to a different level.
Then, Laura, back from Europe, cuts her hair, begins a new job and all but shuts out her mother.
Creator Zander Lehmann has created a show that seems even more about nothing than “Seinfeld.” Look closely, however, and you’ll see a bigger picture.
Each season of “Casual” might play out like a mini-movie. But there are moments that make you believe other producers are watching it for ideas they can mine for more mainstream series. “Splitting Up Together,” for example, has to owe something to the groundwork done here.
“Casual” makes plenty of pop culture references that go over the heads of many. But if you get them, they’re another truffle in this bag of milk chocolate treats.
Death, an interesting catalyst, figures in several times in the final season.
Watkins’ Valerie discovers the fine art of letting go (she has a great take on family dishes) and discovers much of what she obsessed about in the first season isn’t all that important by the fourth.
If you’ve never seen “Casual,” start from the beginning, don’t jump into next week’s conclusion. Alex’s arrested development doesn’t make sense without the fun he derives in the first season. Similarly, Laura seems cold at the start of the fourth season, not the product of an environment.
Streaming from the beginning (and, really, there aren’t that many episodes) will give you an appreciation for what the creative team has accomplished.
“Casual” is the kind of series that would have died after three episodes on a broadcast network. It might have lasted a season on basic cable. But, in the ever-expanding world of streaming, it found a place and has gotten to play out the way it should.
If you aren’t keen on what it’s selling, you’ll know by the end of the third episode. But if you find something to embrace, you’ll go the full 44 and be glad you saw how one family dealt with change, big and small.
“Casual” begins its final season July 31 on Hulu.