TV: Rutherford Falls (Season 2)

Peacock doesn’t have all that many arrows in its quiver, but it does have Rutherford Falls, a pleasant, light-hearted ensemble comedy with a refreshing focus on Indigenous American culture. Quick, breezy, and upbeat, this one takes place in a fictional town in upstate New York where the arc of history is finally starting to bend toward justice for the Minishonka nation, whose lands were colonized and co-opted by the Rutherford family, who built a corporate empire. Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms) represents the community’s problematic white past, while his best friend Reagan Wells (Jana Schmieding) labors to sustain Minishonka culture as the curator of a local museum.

In the wake of season one’s controversies, Nathan begins season two in a dark place: unexpectedly isolated from his family and humiliated by a tell-all podcast hosted by Reagan’s near-miss-boyfriend Josh (Dustin Milligan). To his credit, the entitled and too-proud Nathan takes his epic shaming as a teaching moment and labors to rehabilitate, primarily by de-centering himself in favor of others like his cheerful, nonbinary protégé Bobbie Yang (Jesse Leigh) and former Rutherford Falls mayor Deirdre Chisenhall (Dana L. Wilson), with whom he has a complicated romantic situation. Reagan, meanwhile, works with ambitious Minishonka Nation businessman Terry Thomas (Michael Greyeyes) to re-brand Rutherford as a tourist destination.

Season two zips by with the same uplifting spirit that propelled the first season, but seems more sure of itself, especially in the way it handles Nathan’s awakening from his blinkered entitlement. It also juices the cast, bringing in Letterkenny’s Kaniehtiio Horn as a toxic mayoral candidate, and Reservation Dogs’ scene-stealing Dallas Goldtooth as Reagan’s co-curator—and perhaps something more. At just eight half-hour episodes, there isn’t really enough time for deep development, but it remains a smart, kind-heated series that refreshingly showcases its Indigenous American creators and performers.

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