Chuck Lorre’s Netflix comedy series, The Kominsky Method, is back again. I thoroughly enjoyed the 2018 debut season, and this year’s version is just as comical and satisfying.
Starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, and set in Los Angeles, it’s essentially about the pitfalls and perils of aging in America. The themes are topical and timely, the dialog is sharp, snappy and occasionally profane, and the casting is spot on.
Douglas portrays Sandy Kominsky, a thrice-divorced 70-year-old drama coach whose health is on the decline but who lives life to the fullest. Arkin plays Norman Newlander, 80, the semi-retired owner of a successful talent agency who’s still in mourning over the recent death of his wife. Sandy and Norman are supposedly the best of friends, but sometimes you wouldn’t know it. Norman is often gruff, and Sandy tends to be a tad too direct.
This year’s eight episodes are each 25 minutes long and invariably engaging and amusing. They’re largely about the lives of empty nesters and the challenges of geriatric romance.
Norman, still grieving for his late wife Eileen (Susan Sullivan), has fallen into a state of “existential despair.” Periodically, she appears in his hallucinations. Commiserating with his loss, Sandy advises him to “hang in.” As for Sandy, he sometimes forgets words. In one instance, he confuses “procrastination” with “masturbation.”
Mindy, Sandy’s 33-year-old daughter, is in a serious relationship with Martin (Paul Reiser), a retired high history teacher who’s old enough to be her father. “Are you shacking up with Rupert Murdoch?” Sandy asks sarcastically. A talkative fellow, Martin admits he feels weird dating a woman so young.
Norman bumps into Madelyn (Jane Seymour), an old flame whose husband recently died, and they hook up. She invites him to her house for the weekend, but he’s wary of having sex with her. He’s not certain whether “the plumbing” will work. As for Madelyn, she wants Norman to buy a new mattress.
Meanwhile, Norman has to deal with his something-40 daughter, Phoebe (Lisa Edelstein), who has caused him nothing but trouble and who has just finished a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. She apologizes for the poor choices she has made and tries to make amends. Norman issues his own apology, admitting his flashes of anger during Phoebe’s formative years were inappropriate.
Several scenes take place in Sandy’s studio. He doesn’t mince words with his students, all of whom aspire to be rich and famous. He brings them down to earth by reminding them that 90 percent of Hollywood actors are unemployed. When one of his students comes on to him, he resists the temptation.
In an observation about aging, Sandy cracks a joke about the connection between whiplash and sneezing. When Lisa (Nancy Travis), a girlfriend from the past, turns up again, they have a lively conversation. “What if we took sex off the table,” she asks. “I still like sex,” he counters.
The next time he dates Lisa, Sandy brings along erectile dysfunction pills, just in case. An uproarious scene unfolds when two passing policemen stop Sandy for questioning before he enters Lisa’s house.
Chastened by a diagnosis of lung cancer, Sandy can barely come to terms with his failing health. He rejects Mindy’s advice that he should retire.
The sudden appearance of Norman’s grandson, a Scientologist, is a recipe for impending trouble.
The Kominsky Method ends on an abrupt note, signalling that a third season is in the offing. I look forward to it. This is a series that works like a well-oiled machine.