Abandoned by Max, the dramedy lands at Starz, boasting more complexity and much of the charm still intact.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.
At the end of Minx’s first season, setbacks and rivalries split the Bottom Dollar team apart. Doug (Jake Johnson) and Tina (Idara Victor) still have the company but no Minx or resources to print the magazines they retain. Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) has the Minx name and rights plus centerfold towards Jack of All Trades Bambi (Jessica Lowe) and photographer Richie (Oscar Montoya).
Thankfully, the show doesn’t devote the season to this status quo. Thanks to isolated multimillionaire Constance Papadopoulos (Elizabeth Perkins, crushing it in July) deciding to make the magazine her business comeback project, the gang is back on their feet and together before you know it. More to the point, almost immediately after reuniting, they become more successful than ever before. Unfortunately, success exposes their frictions, not reduces them. As multiple characters intone throughout Minx Season 2, in many ways, they all worked together better when everything was harder.
Like Season 1, Minx Season 2 can’t escape cliché in telling its story. However, this time out, those tropes take on a kind of meta quality. Early on, when a Rolling Stone reporter shows up at Bottom Dollar to do a feature piece on her, Joyce can’t shake the feeling she’ll be portrayed as either an anti-fun ice queen or a flirt using her sexual appeal to climb the ladder. Even after she voices that concern directly to the seemingly sympathetic reporter, we later see the feature did force her into one of those boxes.
The show struggles with that same tension. It doesn’t want just to be Season 1, Part 2, but it also doesn’t want to be yet another cautionary tale of how success corrupts. Like Joyce, it does its damnedest to evade those familiar traps. Like Joyce, it succumbs to them. The key is how and on that front, Minx Season 2 succeeds by valuing characterization over plot. Plenty happens, but each step serves to better illuminate the people that make up the Minx ecosystem.
For instance, Joyce’s sister Shelly (Lennon Parham) felt like a real person already in Season 1. In Minx Season 2, however, she evolves further. A late-season affair with Bambi and a chance to write erotica on an ongoing basis for the magazine has set her off on a path of sexual (and professional) discovery. Parham and series writers led by creator Ellen Rapoport make that journey feel smart, silly, and honest. Even better, they neither idealize nor problematize it. It doesn’t devastate her world, but there are tradeoffs. There’s no Pleasantville-esque “The world changed!” moment, nor is there an Ice Storm “Your suburban sexual games bring you horrifying punishment!” twist.
It also brings out interesting reactions from the people around Shelly, none more so than her husband, Lenny (Rich Sommer). He moves from boring drip to the 70s’ most flexible and understanding man in a few episodes’ time. It’s a significant shift, but it feels authentic and, more important, loving. He urges his wife toward happiness for her. In turn, she recognizes him as an equal partner, someone capable of contributing in the home and outside of it.
Minx Season 2 succeeds by valuing characterization over plot.
So it goes for the rest of the cast, each gaining depth and new facets. Lovibond especially benefits from it, reducing Joyce’s propensity for being a scold without reducing her to a sellout or different person. As a result, Lovibond seems more settled in the burgeoning magazine impresario’s skin. She was good last time. In Minx Season 2, she’s great.
The one exception is Johnson’s Doug, ironic considering how well-defined and full-formed he seemed from jump last season. Again, though, Doug’s fuzziness and meandering nature are revealed as another form follows function collaboration between writers and the actor. The character has spent his entire life hustling, scrambling for solutions and shortcuts to problems he often made worse first. In Minx Season 2, though, he quickly finds himself devoid of such challenges. Without the struggle, without being the big boss, Doug is lost. Johnson’s performance reflects that sudden lack of direction. He fades into the background because Doug doesn’t know what else to do.
Without going into details or spoilers, Season 2’s ending does an aspect of Season 1 too closely. It’s the only point when Minx’s navigation of cliché yields disappointing results, succumbing too fully to the Season 1 Part 2 box. It doesn’t come close to derailing the season or removing the intriguing ways all the characters grew. Unfortunately, it shifts the focus at the last moment, sending the viewer off not pondering two characters’ European endeavors or what could be the magazine’s next huge moment but rather thinking, “We’ve been here before.”
Minx Season 2 starts taking off the lens caps July 21 on Starz.