Up All Night 2.0: Love It or Leave It?

TV Guide

Up All Night | Photo Credits: Gavin Bond/NBC

Up All Night's second season is barely recognizable from the workplace comedy we saw last year. While the core actors Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph remain the same, the trio's been placed inside a completely different narrative universe (what is this, American Horror Story?).  Do you think Up All Night upgraded or are you already longing for the good ol' days of The Ava Show?

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What's Changed: Season 1 followed Reagan Brinkley (Applegate) as she learned to balance her new role as mom with her job as a producer on her best friend Ava's (Rudolph) talk show. But Reagan wasn't the only one who had some adjusting to do. After quitting his job as a lawyer, her husband Chris (Arnett) had to learn to navigate the world of being a stay-at-home dad.

In a huge switcheroo, Season 2 now finds Reagan staying at home with baby Amy while Chris goes off to start his own business. And thanks to The Ava Show's cancelation, the titular diva finds herself seriously re-evaluating her life (and hoarding a bit). But sadly, Ava's new life no longer includes Kevin (Jason Lee), thus marking her return into the rough world of dating.

As if those drastic life changes aren't enough, Ava's kooky assistant Missy is another casualty of the talk show being killed. Up All Night decided to fill the character gap by bringing in Reagan's younger brother Scott (Luka Jones), a newly divorced dad with whom Chris starts his construction business.

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What's the Same: The banter! The love! The awkwardness! The foundation of Up All Night has thankfully not been affected by the series' renovations. And — bless their hearts — neither has Reagan, Chris or Ava, who remain (respectively) as neurotic, sensitive and over-the-top as ever. In fact, the show's new set-up has only helped give the same characters a fresh feel, stopping audiences from becoming bored by their antics.

The Brinkleys' role reversal also allows the show to continue Season 1's exploration of the struggles new parents face, as both Reagan and Chris are forced to deal with different challenges when it comes to raising Amy. It's in this household domain that Up All Night has always thrived and continues to do so, as evidenced by a recent story line in which Reagan and Chris struggle with Amy's addiction to sleeping in their bed. In the episode, Reagan is forced to acknowledge the handicap of her own arrogance, when she learns her brother Scott (whom she had previously ignored) had the solution to her and Chris' issue with Amy all along.

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And despite the dynamic in the house shifting, Reagan and Chris' quirky romance remains untouched. Even after Amy hit her first birthday, the couple still struggle with accepting they're grown and responsible adults, a truth a lot of people — not just parents — can relate to (though I doubt many have turned to trapeze school as a remedy). Plus: Chris might be back at work, but he's still the same hands-on father and household manager that helped break the incompetent dad steretype. Overall, the Brinkleys remain one of the few couples on TV whose relationship is both aspirational and achievable.

The icing on the cake? Like its freshmen debut, Season 2 of Up All Night is jam-packed with guest-stars! Rob Huebel, Sean Hayes and Rachel Dratch have already made appearances and Blythe Danner will reprise her role as Reagan's mother in a flashback episode later in the season.

The Verdict: While we were initially worried so many changes would seem forced or turn the show into a hollow shell of its former self, we're surprised to admit that we actually love the new Up All Night! In fact, we've barely noticed most of the changes. By taking Reagan, Chris and Ava out of their comfort zones and introducing Scott, the series has added a depth to their world that was previously missing.

Though we will miss some of The Ava Show's larger-than-life scenarios, as the host always said, keep on watching and growing, because Up All Night seems to have finally found its groove!

How do you feel about the new Up All Night?

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