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Recommended: Los Espookys Season 2 on HBO

Surreal as ever, the bilingual comedy returns for a second round of subversive fun.
  • Bernardo Velasco in Season 2 of Los Espookys (Photo: Pablo Arellano Spataro/HBO)
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    Los Espookys Season 2 | HBO
    Half-hour comedy (Six episodes) | TV-14

    What's new and what's changed?

    They're still creating horror scenarios for their various clients, but the members of Los Espookys are haunted by problems of their own. Renaldo keeps seeing the ghost of a murdered beauty queen, Andrés is trying to thrive after breaking up with his rich boyfriend, Tati is adjusting to life as that ex-boyfriend's new wife, and Úrsula is working to get a politician kicked out of office. In order to move forward, they'll have to rely on their knack for creative problem solving and their ability to speak to directly to the moon.

    Who's involved?

    The core cast members are as funny as ever:

    • Bernardo Velasco is soulfully heroic as Renaldo, and as he untangles the mystery of the ghostly beauty queen, he finds new reserves of confidence.
    • Cassandra Ciangherotti maintains Úrsula's unflappable practicality, which makes her a valuable asset as she fights a politican who loves putting erotic silhouettes of half-naked women on public signs.
    • Series co-creator Julio Torres, as Andrés, remains utterly convincing as a self-obsessed rich kid with magical powers who thinks nothing of taking over Renaldo's bedroom or encouraging a small dog to break more rules.
    • Fellow co-creator Ana Fabrega, as Tati, keeps the looniness dialed high while playing everything completely straight. She's so certain she's flawless that you can almost accept it when she decides she's a legal genius or when she reveals her gazpacho recipe is just ketchup in a fancy bowl.
    • Fred Armisen, also a co-creator, adds zest as Renaldo's Uncle Tico, who has lost his job as a valet because everyone's got a self-parking car. This sends him to Renaldo's house, where he tries to find a new purpose.

    Meanwhile, there are several high-profile newcomers:

    • Oscar nominee Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) plays the Moon. As in, the actual moon, who has a tense friendship with Andrés. She feels he uses her for favors, but she likes him anyway.
    • Isabella Rosselini and pop star Kim Petras also appear, but it would be spoiling too much to explain how.

    Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?

    To get highbrow for a moment, Los Espookys is a magical realist work of art that continues the tradition of writers like Lorca and Marquez.

    This is a show where bizarre things happen as an unquestioned part of daily life. When a parasitic demon decides to get a job in the American embassy, there's no audience surrogate character who suggests that's unusual. Instead, the demon's colleagues help her learn helpful office slang. When Renaldo tells people he's seeing a ghost, there are no scary music cues or tilted camera angles to imply this is terrifying. On the contrary, a friend asks if the vision might actually be a dream that has escaped from Renaldo's mind, as if that's a natural second option.

    Watching this can be disorienting, particularly because nobody articulates the rules of the show's reality. Each thirty minute episode submerges us in whatever dream logic is at play that week, and if it doesn't make literal sense, then oh well.

    This may guarantee that Los Espookys — which blends Spanish and English, and uses subtitles for both langauges — is of limited appeal to mainstream audiences, since not everyone is interested in stories this loose and wild. But for those who dive in, there are endless rewards. When Andrés briefly gets a job as a staircase model, for instance, his costumes are so dazzling that they deserve their own Instagram account. When Renaldo starts to piece together the ghost's back story, his growing self confidence is legitimately moving to behold.

    And best of all: it's funny. There are so many jokes in every episode that some scenes deserve to be watched two or three times, just to catch all of them. (Case in point: As a throwaway line, Andrés explains he has a pill for the headache you get after you've stared through the eyes of multiple crows at once.) Somebody's always saying something or doing something or wearing some stupid hat that's as hilarious as it is surreal. INot every show with this many literary ambitions can also pull off so many good jokes.

    Pairs well with

    • Derry Girls, the Netflix sitcom about Catholic school kids in 90s Northern Ireland. It's got a surreal streak of its own, and the character Orla is deliciously weird just like Tati. (Read our review)
    • The Rehearsal, HBO's genre-bending series about literally staging the most important moments of your life. (Read our review.)
    • Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Emmy-winning masterpiece that breaks all sorts of narrative "rules" as it depicts one woman's debauched adventures. (Stream on Amazon Prime Video)

  • Los Espookys (Season 2)
    Premieres on HBO and HBO Max at 11:00 PM ET on September 16. New episodes Fridays.
    Created by: Julio Torres, Fred Armisen, and Ana Fabrega.
    Starring: Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega, Fred Armisen, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Bernardo Velasco, Yalitza Aparicio, Kim Petras, and Isabella Rossellini.
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    TOPICS: Los Espookys, HBO, Ana Fabrega, Ana Fabrega, Bernardo Velasco, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Fred Armisen, Fred Armisen, Isabella Rossellini, Julio Torres, Julio Torres, Kim Petras, Yalitza Aparicio