The final 8 episodes of Hulu’s “Casual” drop today, a deserving end to one of TV’s most underrated comedies.
When someone first told me about Hulu’s Casual, they pitched it to me as “if Will & Grace were brother and sister.”
And while there are certainly similarities between the NBC comedy and Hulu series, especially with how both shows explore unhealthy co-dependent relationships inhibiting future relationships, that’s where the parallels end. Soon into Season 1, Casual formed its very specific, unique niche, delving into technology and modern dating in a fresh way (Snooger!). In its first season, the series ended up earning a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy.
The final season of the show drops today on Hulu, and it’s a fitting finale for fans of one of TV’s most dysfunctional families. At the end of Season 3, Alex (Tommy Dewey) got his AirBNB drop-in/roommate Rae pregnant (the criminally underrated Maya Erskine), leaving the two to question what their futures were. Valerie (Michaela Watkins), too, was doing some questioning, specifically herself as a mother after Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) runs away to be with Grandma (Frances Conroy).
Season 4 picks up about five years after the events of Season 3, with Alex and Rae living together (platonically) and raising their daughter Carrie (Lucie Vuong). Alex has always been somewhat of a neurotic character, and it’s fun to see him as a neurotic father, especially when Rae starts dating someone and he worries he’s exposing his daughter to the free-love lifestyle he was unwillingly subject to as a kid. Without spoiling anything, if we’re talking Hulu’s first spin-off series, I would love to see one involving Alex, specifically where he ends up at the end of the show, which would be rich with storylines to explore.
Meanwhile, Laura is back in town after traipsing through Europe with her new girlfriend, and Valerie hasn’t seen her daughter in two years. Many fans have questioned whether Valerie is a good therapist, and this season delves into her real dreams, what she really wants to do. “If I’m gonna fuck up my life,” she says, “I want to do it on my terms.” And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, when Laura accidentally becomes a food vlogger.
One of my favorite things about this series is the way it addresses modern romance and how technology both connects and disconnects us, and the new season continues to tackles this topic, specifically with virtual reality dating (which is terrifying!). The series also gives us glimpses into the happiest of relationships, that of Leon (Nyesha Hatendi) and Leia (Julie Berman), and how even these ties have threads vulnerable to tear. The season leads you down the rabbit hole toward what would be a cliche happy ending for some of these characters, but like quintessential Casual, what you expect to happen doesn’t always happen.
Thank you, Casual, for your unconventional look at family and dating, and for being Hulu’s first truly original, original series.