Hidden America Season 2 Review: Over the river and through the woods

Chad White

Hidden America
Season 3, Episodes 1-8

He was the original N-word W A.

One of the most complex parts of the entertainment industry is creating a good parody. There are a lot of shows that have been lampooned for the better half of the century. Seeso is lucky enough to have two of them. Bajillion Dollar Propertie$ and Hidden America with Jonah Ray both premiered in the streamer’s first year to rave success (from comedy nerds). The jokes are clear: these are parodic takes on existing genres. What’s important to note is they both work. These shows can comfortably create believable worlds. Bajillion lives in a caricature of Los Angeles where realtors and their customers are living cartoons becoming more cartoony by the second. Hidden America, similarly, is wildly unrealistic while also maintaining a realistic sense of being. Host Jonah Ray is painted as a misguided, undeserving nitwit who goes to these great cities only to be treated like the dummy he is. All that and he still deals with eccentric interviewees.

Hidden America is one of Seeso’s more interesting shows. It could’ve easily lived on cable (think truTV, Comedy Central, or G4 TV of all places). Still, it makes use of the creative license that only a streaming network can provide. Ray isn’t afraid to make a jab towards Seeso, questioning what it is and why it exists. These jokes are funny enough but they occur every episode and only get funnier. It’s reminiscent of when Futurama and The Simpsons used to crap on Fox.

Unlike season 1, there’ s a story arc over the eight episodes. Ray has been accused of killing Chaz Duffy and everyone believes it. He’s hated in most of the cities he visits. But he often sees the ghostly figure of his frenemy. Thankfully, the mystery is solved in the finale but it’s interesting to see unfold. Jonah manages to hit several different styles of America from Nashville to London. Like season 1, he meets the strangest people. Actors like Yvette Nicole Brown, Janet Varney, Baron Vaughn, David Koechner and Will Wheaton manage to make the most of their time in the spot light. Vaughn even starts a running joke for the season as he creates a new musical in the vein of Hamilton.

The character interaction is much more interesting than the destination itself. Lines of jokes are delivered with Ray’s dull wit. He plays well against the out there antics of Varney and Koechner for example. Every scene is fun, not filler, as Ray tries his best to be a host. When he meets Anthony Bourdain, for instance, the storied TV personality gets a chance to be more than a face talking about food. He beats up Ray after showing him the most boring day and forcing him to listen to his new science fiction book. All of this happens in New York, a city in which hundreds of shows are based. Hidden America can make any place feel intimate. The most distinctive episode, though, is “Nashville.” The editing is some of the best on any streaming network.

Should you watch Hidden America?

Fans of Jonah Ray or dry comedy in general will be happy to know that the second season of this Seeso show is better than the first. It takes chances it didn’t necessarily need to and triumphs.