[This post originally appeared as part of Recommendation Machine, IndieWire’s daily TV picks feature.]
Where to Watch ‘Trying’: Apple TV+
Maybe it’s trite to call couples a “team,” but if there’s one current TV couple that really earns such a description, it’s Jason Ross and Nikki Newman from the Apple TV+ series “Trying.” It makes sense, given how much of the show so far is based around the two making an attempt (few series sport a title as thesaurus-prompting as this one) to grow their family.
After finding out they can’t conceive on their own, Nikki and Jason begin the lengthy adoption process. Even against the stream of encounters with exes and roller-coaster news updates from their adoption liaison (Imelda Staunton, as bubbly and feisty as ever), “Trying” has its moorings in two people who keep finding ways back to each other. Rafe Spall and Esther Smith have such a playful onscreen chemistry that, along with the direction from Jim O’Hanlon and scripts from creator Andy Wolton, Jason and Nikki’s relationship always finds the perfectly calibrated level of sweetness.
Their teamwork will feel right at home for anyone looking for a post-“Ted Lasso” watch that has a similar blend of goofiness and heart. It’s not just that the shows are set in the same city (I don’t remember Ted ever making his way up to Camden from Richmond, but there’s always Season 3), it’s that they both present the idea of showing affection and cooperation as essential ideals.
“Trying” and “Ted Lasso” share a relatively cheery disposition that still makes room to acknowledge the less breezy parts of life that their characters face. Nikki and Jason certainly aren’t immune to greater questions that come from the process of adopting a child. Both of them face challenges from their own families that give them pause about whether they’re in a position to do better than the previous generation. In seeing siblings and friends wade through the murky waters of marriage, another underlying throughline of “Trying” is watching the two of them prove to each other how much they can be each other’s true partner without needing a wedding to prove it.
The balance between Nikki and Jason is one that the show’s overall tone keeps, too. It was present in Season 1, returned eventually in Season 2 amid some plot-related shakeups, and continued through a lovely finale that sets up the developments to come. For anyone looking to TV for some comfort right now, you’d be hard-pressed to find better guides than these two.
Pair It With: Hosted by Boston Globe advice columnist Meredith Goldstein, the podcast “Love Letters” is one of the most fulfilling places to find stories about relationships of all kinds. Different season-long themes have looked at momentous meetings, new beginnings, pivotal breakthroughs, and, yes, breakups. They all reinforce the idea that love doesn’t happen by accident.
Other Fans: Proma Khosla has this Mashable interview with O’Hanlon and musician Maisie Peters, who went from a guest appearance in Season 1 to writing original songs for each episode of Season 2. (“Milhouse” is about as close as you can get to translating a smile into music.)