“Idiotsitter” is built on a simple concept. Its humor is loud, profane, and easy to understand. The Comedy Central series is captured in classic single-cam fashion, and runs at traditional 22-minute clips (sans commercials).
With only the above in mind, it would be easy to lump Jillian Bell and Charlotte Newhouse’s creation in with a number of other shows matching the above criteria.
But that would be wrong. That would be reductive, 12 episodes in, to the series’ overall impact. That wouldn’t encompass its joyous spirit, addictive charms, or detail-oriented approach to a classic narrative.
That would ignore the fact that “Idiotsitter” is very, very, very funny.
The simple concept Bell and Newhouse execute so well — as writers and actors — is an odd couple pairing. Billie (Newhouse) is a Type-A goodie-two-shoes harboring an inner wild child who doesn’t quite know how to walk yet. Gene (Bell) is a borderline psychotic rich kid who’s been spoiled to the point of emotional incontinence. Throughout Season 1, the two exterior sides of each woman’s personality clashed violently. Billie tried to teach Gene, as was her job, and Gene rebelled against any and every semblance of order.
But the beauty of their dynamic was seen in how often their hidden selves came out. Billie would be tricked into cutting lose, or forced into it after Gene’s stubborn demands were easier to meet than rebut. Gene, meanwhile, was often broken down to a state of humbled honesty by the genuine efforts of her teacher. These two instinctively wanted to be friends, and the series let them find those bonds early and often, rather than maintain an abrasive relationship to create easier conflicts.
Fighting is easy — especially for odd couple comedies — but finding the true bond is difficult. “Idiotsitter” made it look easy, and that makes Season 2 all the more exciting to behold.
For starters, the teacher/student relationship graduates from high school to college. Outside of the obvious opportunities for even more excessive shenanigans with the move to a parent-less campus, the first episode of Season 2 is filled with knowing nods to the college comedy genre that predates “Idiotsitter.” Billie is teaching at and Charlotte is attending Westeastern University. The local football team is unquestionably “woke.” Student housing is lavish and the teacher’s living facility is a regressive pit.
Bell and Newhouse recognize the arena they’re stepping into and take every opportunity to subvert expectations and find fresh new angles into common turf. Even their relationship is different than what we’ve come to expect from these irreverent larks. Billie’s a teacher and Gene’s a student, meaning the latter can crash the former’s class (and put her reputation in jeopardy) while the former can stumble into the latter’s house parties (and put her reputation in jeopardy — see how that works both ways?).
For those of you who were first introduced to “Idiotsitter” by way of Channing Tatum — whose guest star appearance in Season 1 going unrewarded at the Emmys is an oversight so criminal most of the industry should be imprisoned — rest assured there are some smile-inducing cameos in the first two episodes. None compare to Tatum reciting original poetry, but here’s the squelched secret no one wants to talk about: Tatum was great last season, but his co-stars were better. Bell and Newhouse elevated their should-be-Oscar-nominated guest actor by setting a high energy and allowing his mellow vibes to play the perfect foil. Both parties looked better because of the other, but it was the creators, writers, and stars who shined brightest (which is really the primary job of any informed guest actor, so kudos again to Tatum).
In Season 2, these two talents don’t need any assistance. They’re wise enough to incorporate their supporting players in ways that benefit the show — Michaela Watkins playing a drunk, creepy, but good-hearted librarian and the well-timed emergence of a regular from Season 1 both boost the episodic narratives as much as they make for stand-out solo scenes — but “Idiotsitter” is their world and they’re the force that keeps it spinning.
“Idiotsitter” is a comedy built on a familiar foundation, but a) there’s nothing wrong with that, and b) never is this show content with resting on it.
“Idiotsitter” Season 2 premieres its first five episodes on Saturday, June 10 at 8 p.m. on Comedy Central. The next five will air the following Saturday, June 17.