18 to Life is a charming little show. That’s a diplomatic way of saying that it doesn’t aim high but it doesn’t often disappoint. Season 1 deftly mixed comedy and sweetness, but got stuck in the rut of having too many plots centred around a conflict between Tom and Jessie. Season 2 expanded the show’s horizons a bit.

When I reviewed the season premiere, “One is the Loneliest Number,” I said that I wasn’t confident that the show would commit to Tom and Jessie’s promise not to lie to each other. I ended up being pleasantly surprised. There were a few episodes driven by Tom and Jessie keeping secrets from each other, but otherwise, the couple was given the freedom to work as a team, and there was a lot of humour to be mined in their half-assed plans to retrieve their sex tape (“Family Portrait”) or in them getting lost in the woods (“If a Bellow Falls in the Forest”).

The parents also came into their own season. The show’s writers rightly recognized the amazing comic chemistry between Al Goulem and Peter Keleghan, so Phil and Ben were given a lot of fun stories. The writers also recognized that having Phil and Tara constantly at odds with Ben and Judith was a dynamic that would soon become tiring, so they were given more plot lines where they interacted with the kids or where they were cooperating to achieve some silly outcome. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of Wendy or Monica this season, which is a shame, because Tiio Horn is absolutely pitch-perfect in her role.

As for Tom and Jessie’s friends, Ava has always been problematic. Part of the problem is that the show doesn’t let Ava and Jessie interact much, but the main issue is that Erin Agostino isn’t all that great of an actress. On the other hand, Jesse Rath is a strong actor, and he makes Carter, who would otherwise be exceptionally annoying, a very watchable character. Unfortunately, as funny as Carter can be, for some strange reason, the writers are unwilling to let Carter give Tom good advice for a change. You’d think that Tom would learn not to trust a guy who is perpetually wrong. Oh well.

Grade relative to past performance: B+

Grade relative to other television shows: B+

Altogether, season 2 was a slight improvement over season 1. 18 to Life still has quite a way to go to achieve sitcom greatness, but for now, it’s a fun little show that puts a smile on face.

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