We liked season 1 of Pairings here at WebVee Guide. We liked it a lot. It made my personal list of Five Faves for our First Anniversary feature. Pairings is the story of Alan Wallace (Ed Robinson), a nice guy who can’t seem to meet women, and when he can, gets awkward and says the wrong thing. So, Alan spends his time playing Dungeons and Dragons and bemoaning his lack of dating success to his Sushi Chef, Rose (Nebula Gu). That is, Alan can’t seem to hit with women until he discovers the seductive power of his ability to cook. Alan’s newfound cooking-inspired success with women leads to a bet with his friend Bobert (Nathan Mobley). If Alan can bed eight women in two months, he’ll win $10,000. Alan and his brother Drew (Rick Robinson) plan to use the money to produce a craft beer based on their father’s recipe.
Season 1 was the story of The Bet, and the food Alan cooked for his dates became a part of each episode. As season 1 concluded, Rose was angry with Alan after he told her about The Bet (even crediting her for his success), and also at his lameness at not knowing that she was available. Yeah, huge bombshell moment of clarity. Throughout the season, an attraction between Rose and Alan was teased, but Alan and we had the impression Rose and Thomas were married. Alan is left befuddled at the revelation that Rose and Thomas (Paul Yen) are brother and sister and not husband and wife, and he’s and not happy with himself at the hurt he caused with The Bet.
Season 2 picks up right where season 1 left off. Through a flashback, we get to see how Rose and Alan came to meet. The attraction that was palpable in season 1 was already evident. Back in the present day, Alan’s reluctance over The Bet that we began to see at the end of season 1 comes to the forefront. Upset with his behavior and what may now be a lost opportunity with Rose, Alan’s not happy; he’s angry with himself. Like I’ve pointed out, Alan’s a nice guy. Even when he may have been a putz, he was never an asshole. Alan’s path to Rose won’t be an easy one, now. And, it will be made even more complicated by the introduction of Roy (Eddie Kaulukukui), Rose’s former lover who has moved to town.
Where The Bet and Alan’s cooking were prominently featured in season 1, those elements take a back seat to new stories in season 2, and new characters are introduced. Addie (Shannon Nelson) and Steve (David Nett) get a storyline of their own, and Bobert gets a love interest in Jo (Paula Rhodes), a pocket rocket of a Roller Derby girl. We also meet Kim (Sarah Orr Krieg) and Kai (Gene Minero), Thomas’ wife and son. And, Richard Hatch (yes, that Richard Hatch, the one who replaced Michael Douglas as Karl Malden’s partner on Streets of San Francisco) joins the cast as Richard Conklin, Alan’s Dutch Uncle and the successor to Alan’s father’s legacy as a chef.
While Pairings was never a belly laugh, laugh out loud comedy, Season 2 marks a shift away from the broader comedy of The Bet to dramedy, with humor subtly integrated into the storytelling. Food, while still part of the storytelling, is no longer a star of the show. Food is now integrated differently so that it is the means over which the characters come together. The dinner scene where we meet Kim and Kai is a perfect example; a family sharing dinner, partaking of their food while interacting with one another. There was something quite sweet, and real, about that scene.
Not changed in season 2 of Pairings are the things that are now hallmarks of wife/husband creators Jodie Younse and Ed Robinson, and director Rick Robinson. The acting is superb. It’s the little things about the acting, not grand gestures, that possess authenticity. The rapport among the actors is strong, especially the scenes with Alan, Addie, Steve, Drew and Bobert. You do believe these people are family and friends, not just actors saying lines. Technically, the show remains beautifully shot by Seth Johnson and edited by Robb Padgett, with wonderful original music composed by Rob Gokee.
At its heart Pairings was always a story about family and friendship, and the desire to find love. With its maturity in season 2, Pairings not only remains true to that story, but places even more emphasis on those themes. Well written, acted and directed, with terrific photography and music, Pairings remains one of the finest shows online and one of our favorites.
Watch Pairings at pairingstheseries.com.