Everyone who was ever going to watch “Ted Lasso” has probably done it already. Somewhere deep in the server room at Apple HQ, there’s probably some algorithm for wringing some extra subset of subscribers out of the phenomenon that “Ted Lasso” has been for audiences and awards voters. It’s the kind of effort that makes you wonder what Apple TV+ would do if they had a show ready to duplicate that kind of success.
Except you don’t have to wonder. They already do.
This week brings Season 2 of “Acapulco,” a comedy that’s been right next to that soccer show on the platform since it premiered last fall. It’s a story told in two parallel tracks. Maximo (Enrique Arrizon) a young starry-eyed employee deals with the day-to-day ups and downs an Acapulco-area tourist resort in the 1980s, while his older self (Eugenio Derbez) narrates each twist and turn to his nephew Hugo (Raphael Alejandro) decades later.
That framing device — which started out at as “How I Met Your Mother”-adjacent in its first season but takes on a slight “Definitely Maybe” tinge in Season 2 — is the most obvious example of how “Acapulco” builds on a sturdy, familiar foundation. Much like “Abbott Elementary” works from a comfy workplace mockumentary framework or “Ted Lasso” borrowed its basic premise from “Major League,” “Acapulco” is a classic single-cam sitcom through and through. And like those other shows, “Acapulco” has found its own ways to take that familiarity and infuse its own distinct charms, ripe for audiences to gobble up with glee.
The clearest example of what “Acapulco” offers compared to the rest of the comedy field is that it’s bilingual. The show hops between Spanish and English in conversations that Maximo has with his family, his work crush Julia (Camila Perez), his trusty friend Memo (Fernando Carsa), or any number of people at the Las Colinas resort that serve as mentors. The show is built on such a sturdy joke foundation and is teeming with charismatic performers that those laughs come in either language, no fluency necessary.
A good portion of those jokes come against the backdrop of Las Colinas and all its candy-colored recreated detail. The show thrives on those pastels, but there’s an added thrill in Season 2 in seeing “Acapulco” take even more advantage of the space. There’s an added energy to these punchlines when they come in the middle of a choreographed walk-and-talk across a sunlit pool deck or through the hallways near the front desk. And of course, the show brings back its pair of poolside performers who sing and do two-person dances to Spanish-language covers of ‘80s hits. The natural warmth that Maximo feels on the Las Colinas grounds makes it easy for audiences to want to spend more time there, too.
In the process, the resort really does become a perfect playground for setting up classic sitcom problem after classic sitcom problem. VIP guests cause everyone to freak out. Employees make behind-the-scenes deals in order to maneuver themselves closer to people who might be able to help them. The never-ending wave of new tourists coming through means that any of the show’s main characters can try on a different persona or use a clean slate to better shoot their shot, in whatever form that takes.
There are few comedies on TV with a better sense of setup and payoff. So many of these episodes take place over the course of a day, giving them a sense of rhythm and closure that comes with some of the best TV comfort food. Maximo’s feelings for Julia, the internal conflict within his family away from work, and the mystery surrounding his eventual rise to becoming super rich in the future: all of those simmer in the background, but they never distract from any of these episodes having their own self-contained problems and solutions. Those who rail against the “X-hour movie”-fication of TV have a helpful ally in “Acapulco.”
This is also a show that also works hard to build on the goodwill that audiences may have for its characters. Arrizon is such an unfailingly cheery force through the show that you’d have to try really hard to not be charmed by him and young Maximo. Even characters who “Acapulco” sets up as potential villains — resort owner Diane Davies (Jessica Collins), her son Chad (Chord Overstreet), and gruff operations manager Don Pablo (Damián Alcázar) — all get their chance to show the charm behind the facade. By the time the show gives each of them their own background-revealing episodes, “Acapulco” has built up a roster of people to care about, even when their happinesses and successes sometimes threaten to intrude on Maximo’s.
With easy-to-love characters, the built-in rhythms of a workplace comedy, and some genuinely moving family drama, “Acapulco” not only has the ingredients to be a big hit with audiences, but to be the kind of Best Comedy underdog that “Abbott Elementary” was during this past Emmys season. And it doesn’t take multiple episodes to generate all of this goodwill. Season 1 kicks off with all those pieces in place and Season 2 does a solid job of giving newcomers enough context to jump in. Now that “Ted Lasso” has two seasons’ worth of public momentum, acclaim, and built-in word-of-mouth attention, there’s enough room for Apple TV+ to build its successor. After relatively soft-playing the debut of “Acapulco” last fall, now is the perfect time to make up for it if they want to.
The easiest case to make for “Acapulco” is that it’s just really funny. With a clearly defined sense of what makes each of these characters tick, the show can lean into Diane’s anxieties, Memo’s lovesickness, Maximo’s ambition, or Chad’s…Chadness. (The best jokes in Season 2 might be the running gag that comes with a few of Chad’s college buddies coming for a stay at Las Colinas.) Between awkward pauses, snap zooms, montages, and good old-fashioned one-liners, this isn’t a show that just relies on cultural references to get people to laugh.
That sense of humor gives way to an overall feeling of sincerity and enthusiasm that makes it easy to love. While most of the present-day Maximo/Hugo scenes in Season 1 took place in the same location, Season 2 gives them a chance to go around and visit some of the places he’s talking about, almost 40 years later. When Derbez is having this much fun and the punchlines are whizzing by at blazing speeds and people are shaking their hips to a Go-Gos cover and there’s not a cloud in the sky, “Acapulco” is a show that sells itself. All Apple TV+ needs to do is give people a better chance at checking in.
The first two episodes of “Acapulco” Season 2 are now available to stream on Apple TV+. New episodes are available every Friday.