Thursday, June 1, 2023

Couple-ish Returns, Queer and Quirky for Season 2

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If Kaitlyn Alexander’s Couple-ish had to be summed up in a single word it would be “unapologetic”. The queer web series about a non-binary bisexual illustrator forced into a domestic partnership in order to save their British roommate from impending deportation contains a fearless narrative entirely proud of the people, places and things it loves and stands for.

Couple-ish Season 1 gave us the kind of plot you’d find on a list of fanfiction prompts, in a kind of barely-there meta-referential nod to its Tumblr/Youtube-savvy audience. It gave us weirdly obscure Carmilla references, an allusion to creator/actor Kaitlyn Alexander and actor Sharon Belle’s working relationship being born on the set of the vampire web series. It gave us odd, awkward, and sometimes clunky situations and questionable accents that, in their worst of times, were forgivable due to the sincerity of the actors delivering them. Among the oddities Couple-ish also gave us characters who love sex, who like weird music, who’ve felt socially awkward, who’ve had their hearts broken, who’ve had to deal with homophobia from parents, and people lying to their faces. It gave us a non-binary main character with a whole episode dedicated to coming out to a partner, and a pair of siblings who couldn’t be more different or more devoted to each other. And in the words of resident Canadian Fandomentals Managing Editor Julia, Couple-ish is “aggressively Toronto”. As an Australian, I don’t quite know what that means but it was said with much love.

Now, a year and a half after the debut season, Couple-ish returns to our tiny screens for Season 2 with a new episode every Saturday, having just dropped the first as of April 29th.

The Couple-ish Season 2 promotional poster.

If you’re reading this article, to quote Kaitlyn Alexander from their Season 2 crowdfunding video, “you’ve either seen Couple-ish Season 1 and loved it … or you’ve never heard of the show before, in which case scroll down…” click on the link to the entire season on Youtube, watch and enjoy, then come back and finish this article.

Here you go. A helpful playlist of all 22 Season 1 episodes at your fingertips. The entire runtime clocks in at just under two hours, so if you have time to watch a movie today, just make it Couple-ish.

Now that you’re up to speed we can talk about that cliffhanger. Season 1 ended in a messy quadrangle of love and betrayal. Our hero Dee finds out their boyfriend, Cute-Butt-Guy/knew-we-couldn’t-trust-him Ed, has a wife he failed to mention. Dee and their fake-internet-girlfriend/roommate Rachel have their first authentic moment and share a Real Kiss, to the tune of a heartbroken, was-falling-for-Rachel, sibling Amy (*played by Mercedes Morris), who walks in at the Worst Possible Time.

Comic art for Season 2 by Valentine M. Smith, as seen on the Couple-ish crowdfunding campaign.

Fast forward to Season 2, where things are much more calm and collected but … oddly unresolved. For all the quirky awkwardness that was the Season 1 premiere, Season 2 opens in a more reserved fashion, clearly intent upon taking its time to let us in on what went down between that wild finale and the present moment. Dee and Rachel, still in a domestic partnership and still living together, have downsized to a smaller apartment to save cash while Rachel looks for a new job. It’s unclear exactly where their relationship stands on a Fake-to-Real scale (ie what result they’d get on a Which Shakespearean Couple Are You? Quiz), but there are undoubtedly some real feelings going on. Rachel has a dream that she and Dee are married, and while she seems to be vaguely horrified at this thought, there must be some level of sincerity to Dee and Rachel’s relationship at this point because Amy is out of the picture. In fact, Amy hasn’t spoken to Rachel or Dee in months. Dee is unconcerned and believes Amy will come around eventually, but Rachel feels to blame for Amy’s hurt and silence.

Dee then helps Rachel out by getting her a job at their mother’s flower shop. If a queer British brunette with a questionable dress sense working as a florist isn’t a bald-faced reference to Imagine Me & You, I don’t know what is. Couple-ish guarantees it’s still got a flare for shamelessly applicable homages, so call me ecstatic. If you want to read more on some of the intent behind Season 2, check out this great interview with Kaitlyn Alexander (linked from Alexander’s tumblr, so check that out too).

The wait at this point for more information is nothing short of frustrating (how is it only Tuesday), but if you’ve watched any number of web series you’ll know that the key to a good one is excessive cliffhangers and fraying your audience’s patience to breaking point. So I’ll give it to Couple-ish for that.

7 minutes isn’t much time to set things up but so far Couple-ish Season 2 has established that it’s going to be a little more serious but just as humorous as the last season, and a little more complicated but even less straight. Don’t forget to turn on the captions.

*Editors’ Note: We apologize for our failure to mention Ms. Morris’ credit as Amy in this article.


  • Erin

    Erin Latimer is writer whose specialties include film analysis, television and gaming reviews, and re-examining movies from her childhood through a lens of feminist fan practices and queer theory.

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