"Our slow but steady emergence from the worst of the pandemic has presented a problem for television," says Matthew Gilbert. "We had plenty of thoughtful doom-and-gloom shows — I May Destroy You, Ozark — to get us through the dystopian days, and no shortage of feel-good watches — Emily in Paris, Ted Lasso — when we needed to be reminded of the light at the end of the tunnel. But now that the light is upon us, the tunnel fading from view, what are modern-day TV shows to do? Ignore the pandemic, like The Unicorn? Place it center stage, like Superstore? Focus on the continuing feelings of isolation, or fixate on the relief? This Way Up, which drops its second season on Hulu on Friday, has found a graceful middle ground, respecting and straddling the themes of loneliness and hope without harping on them. This Way Up is an overlooked, bingeable gem. I polished off the first season in a weekend, the 20-minute, six episode format irresistibly Fleabag-esque, but lighter and more buoyant ― more quips, slightly less desperation behind them. If humor was how Fleabag distanced herself from the world, then it’s how Aine processes it earnestly, choosing the medicine of laughter time and time again, without ever forgetting it’s a medicine...The second season takes place in a nebulous spot in Before Times, when the sight of a face mask was off-putting and we could all still marvel about 'how crazy the news is,' as Richard puts it. It neither omits the pandemic nor is defined by it, but is clearly informed by it."