The second season of the 1980’s coming-of-age tale Red Oaks was recently added in its entirety to Amazon Prime.With days getting shorter and weather getting colder, Red Oaks Season 2 is a perfect series to binge on a dreary day.
Red Oaks shares the same time period as one of 2016’s most successful shows, Netflix’s Stranger Things. Like Stranger Things, Red Oaks is a nostalgic series featuring ’80s style, music and pop-culture references. While both shows share the same time period, the similarities end there as Red Oaks is a much more subtle show set in realism. Red Oaks can best be described as a humorous show with serious moments, a relatable series focusing on relationships, dealing with change, and following dreams and personal growth.
Red Oaks Season 2 brings back all the characters audiences were familiar with in Season 1; David (Craig Roberts), a college student and aspiring filmmaker who works summers as a tennis pro at a country club; Skye (Alexandra Socha), an aspiring painter, love-interest of David, and daughter of the country club president; and Nash (Ennis Esmer), the senior tennis pro and source of comic relief. Oliver Cooper, Jennifer Grey, Richard King, and Paul Reiser also play supporting roles in the second season of Red Oaks.
Aside from brilliant acting from all involved, Red Oaks can attribute much of its success to those behind the camera. A group of immensely talented directors including Hal Hartley, David Gordon Green, and Amy Heckerling create a beautifully shot show that at times looks more like an award-winning feature-film than a half-hour comedy. In addition to the talented directors on Red Oaks, much of the creativity on the show can be traced to a man who many consider to be a part of cinema royalty, executive producer Stephen Soderbergh.
Season 2 of Red Oaks is a bit more ambitious in its plot than Season 1. In what is still a light-hearted show, the second season of Red Oaks at times tests the ratio of drama to comedy featuring serious scenes and dialogue without humor. The second season of Red Oaks also features a type of story-telling that can only be achieved with excellent character development and individual acting. Rather than focusing the entire series around David as was usually the case in Season 1, many episodes in Season 2 deal with the point-of-view of supporting characters like Wheeler (Oliver Cooper), Mr. Getty (Paul Reiser), Judy (Jennifer Grey), and Sam (Richard King).
Many of the themes tackled in Season 2 of Red Oaks lean more toward drama than humor. The theme of change is addressed in Season 2’s first few episodes. The audience learns that Skye has made her move to Paris, David is no longer enrolled at NYU, David’s parents Sam and Julie are divorced, and Sam has lost his accounting firm. Much of Season 2 of Red Oaks deals with how its characters deal with these changes.
Class differences are also addressed in this season of Red Oaks as reported by The A.V. Club. The difference in class Skye and David experience proves to be the most challenging part of their young relationship. Mr. Getty, Skye’s father, is very critical of David because of his social and financial class and his plans, or lack thereof, to move up in the world. The class differences between Skye and David are also apparent in their pursuit of their passions. Skye, who was born into wealth, is able to devote herself completely to painting, moving to New York City and completely immersing herself in her art. David, born into a working class family does not have the luxury of pushing aside reality to pursue his dreams as a filmmaker. David must continue his work as a tennis pro and small time videographer in order to stay financially above water. Skye, not fully able to grasp the economic constraints holding David back from chasing his dreams, becomes critical of him as well.
Red Oaks does not have the hype surrounding it’s 1980s counterpart Stranger Things. However, Red Oaks is charming, likable, and as deserving of a watch as any show available right now.
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