When did Mozart in the Jungle become a network sitcom? We can’t pinpoint the exact moment of its decline. But one thing is for sure: the new season, premiering February 16, feels likes ten 30-minute romcoms, set against the backdrop of what was formerly known as “sex, drugs and classical music.”
Which is fine. The series has always wrought the most joy from its actors having fun playing off of each other. And Gael Garcia Bernal (Rodrigo) and Lola Kirke (Hailey) are very clearly fond of each other, infusing their characters with real affection. It’s still cute and funny enough — and perfect for the kind of bingeing where you’re only intermittently paying attention to what’s going on.
This season looks to play a lot with relationships (both our preconcieved ideas about them, and what one looks like between a variety of musically inclined, whimsical characters that could only exist in fiction now that Rodrigo and Hailey are, um, in one. And things are moving quickly — by the end of the second episode, they’ve not only granted themselves official status. Rodrigo meets Hailey’s artist mom and overbearing dad, and like a good boyfriend, loves them and susses out exactly what’s wrong with them succinctly. He’s peak manic pixie dream boy.
There’s other stuff happening too: the orchestra is still struggling for a seemingly intangible relevance; Cynthia (Saffron Burrows) is still wrestling with her injury and what it means to be an aging instrumentalist; and Gloria (Bernadette Peters, lovely as always) and Thomas (Malcolm McDowell) are going at it with impressive fervor. As always, the thing that keeps the series from feeling derivative — well, aside from the oft-unseen world of classical music — is that the actors in the show are so good.
Because otherwise, there’s not much to see this season of Mozart in the Jungle apart from any other traditional sitcom that plays with both comedy and the matters of the heart.