The second season of Survivor’s Remorse, which premieres on Saturday, remains a great little gem. Cam is now struggling to handle the pressures of being famous and easily recognized as he’s just trying to go bowling (one encounter includes a fan asking, “My sister loves you. Will you tell her to stop doing heroin?” and handing over a phone). But mostly what the show is exploring now is the balance between his repeated insistence that he’s a “grown ass man” vs his childish behavior — the kind that’s expected when you’re something of a young prodigy suddenly thrust into a very different world — that undermines his statement at every turn. Another episode involves Cam’s mother wanting money for a vagina rejuvenation surgery. While most television series would treat this solely as a joke (and trust me, the episode does get in a handful of funny jokes and cringe-y punchlines at her expense), Remorse eventually turns it into a poignant plot about Cassie’s desire to be seen as a woman, not just a mother.
One beautiful, refreshing aspect of Survivor’s Remorse is its specific depictions of race and culture — similar to Black-ish or Empire — both big and small. There’s the way Cam smarts when a white woman compliments him on being “very articulate” — i.e. expressing her surprise that a black man talks “proper,” which is forever one of the most common and frustrating backhanded compliments. There is also the bigger plot involving Missy chopping off her chemically straightened hair and going natural. There’s an explicit discussion in the hair salon about transitioning (and the frustration of “forcing our hair into something that goes against who we are”) and how, even if you can look like an “amazing, proud, natural woman” there will still be those few months when you’re crying at night about your in-between appearance. But Missy sums it up perfectly: “I’m sick of forcing myself to accept another ethnicity’s ideal.”
It’s so vindicating to see storylines like this on television; it’s so frustrating that there aren’t more viewers tuning in. This is a fantastic series, and one that Starz is practically begging you to watch (again, it’s all streaming for free!). The network clearly has faith in the show — its second season upgraded from six to 10 episodes — and it’s one that I desperately want to last. It’s a rare series but a powerful one.