‘Blindspotting’ Season 2 Is A Creative, Cameo-Filled Vision of Oakland

The ballad of Ashley and Miles continues.
Blindspotting Season 2 Review

Welcome to Previously On, a column that loves it when a good show gets renewed. In this edition, Valerie Ettenhofer reviews season 2 of the Starz series Blindspotting.

Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones) is having a hard time. Her husband is incarcerated, and her mother-in-law is overbearing. When we first see her in Blindspotting season 2, her young son’s birthday party at the park is tipping over into disaster territory. Blindspotting is a series that knows how to navigate disaster, though: the Bay Area-set series is a creative, scrappy comedy bursting with Oakland pride, but it’s also built around painful truths. In its second season, the Starz show continues to march to the beat of its own drum. The result is an energetic, emotionally impactful story with a strong storytelling voice.

Blindspotting sprung from the minds of Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, first as the fantastic 2018 film of the same name, then as the underdog Starz spinoff series. Both versions of Blindspotting share screamingly funny comedy, emotional earnestness, and a throbbing undercurrent of justified rage at a racist, classist world. The Starz series boldly decides to throw Casal’s lovable but hotheaded Miles into jail – and keep him there. Miles and Ashley are totally in love, and at times the show reads like a romance, yet with one-half of the couple behind bars, it’s the kind of love story we rarely see.

By season 2, a sense of pressure has already begun building in Ashley as she attempts to raise the pair’s son, Sean (Atticus Woodward, a talented young actor) when Miles is away. She moves through the eight-episode season on the verge of implosion, at once angry, lonely, and sad – and aware of how important it is that she plays the role of “fun mom” all the while. Ashley’s not alone, though: she and Sean live with her crunchy white mother-in-law Rainey (Helen Hunt) and outspoken sex worker sister-in-law Trish (Jaylen Barron, the show’s secret weapon), and the group’s chaotic, conflicting dynamic makes for some of the show’s best comedy. Candace Nicholas-Lippman’s Trish and Benjamin Earl Turner’s Earl – himself newly back from doing time – also return as family friends.

Blindspotting settles into its story in season 2, trusting viewers to understand the layer of state-supplied heartbreak baked into Ashley and Miles’ relationship while still taking detours down wild comedic avenues. In one great episode, the group heads to Halloween Fright Night, where they drink from a goblet of cheese, and Trish dons an insensitive costume that earns her boos from the group all night. In another, Rainey holds a Meat Fest party in honor of the day she left her no-good vegan boyfriend, and when she caps the number of white people allowed at the party, guests discreetly try to figure out whether or not one tan guest fits the bill.

Blindspotting is as visually creative as ever in its second season, though it branches out beyond the freestyle-to-camera and interpretive dance combination that Diggs perfected in the 2018 film. Some episodes include confessional raps or modern dance, but others tell their stories with kung fu fights, stuffed animals come to life, or, in one case, an episode-long genre homage imagined by Sean. Not every moment of Blindspotting season 2 is showstopping, but the story builds nicely, and when Casal gets the mic back for his own musical number, it’s a fantastic high point in a pretty great season.

The show also utilizes guest stars better than most of its contemporaries. More than one Bay Area legend appears in this season, not for quick cameos but for clever, episode-long storylines that are laugh-out-loud funny and wonderfully self-deprecating. Blindspotting often feels like the TV version of an indie film, a critically acclaimed underdog that gets by on charm, humor, and heart. Yet its biggest creative moments and guest star arcs make the show feel unstoppable.

It’s a spirit that comes straight from its Oakland setting; better than anything else, perhaps, the series portrays the fundamental complexities of loving a town that’s been taken over by people who want to hurt you. Whenever Blindspotting’s visual creativity and imagination make its characters feel a thousand feet tall, it’s a rebellion against mass incarceration, gentrification, and the systemic inequality of the city the show knows and loves. Blindspotting doesn’t spoon-feed white audiences lessons; these characters’ success and happiness – or lack thereof – communicates everything the series needs to say.

Season 2 of Blindspotting is uneven at points but also extremely lovable. By now, the story of Ashley, Miles, Sean, Rainey, Trish, and their friends feels as fully realized as Carlos López Estrada’s visionary film of the same name. The worst part about this season of television is that with eight short episodes, you can burn through it in four hours and be left missing these characters almost immediately. Blindspotting has built a world that’s at once familiar and new, grounded by love and pain, yet limitless in its vision.

Blindspotting season 2 debuts on Starz on April 14. Watch the season 2 trailer here.

Valerie Ettenhofer: Valerie Ettenhofer is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer, TV-lover, and mac and cheese enthusiast. As a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects, she covers television through regular reviews and her recurring column, Episodes. She is also a voting member of the Critics Choice Association's television and documentary branches. Twitter: @aandeandval (She/her)