“Will You Hold My Box?”

[Contains urinal gifts and SPOILERS!!!]

June Diane Raphael as 'Julie Gristlewhite' in "Burning Love" (S2)The second season of spoof “reality” dating show Burning Love (2013) flipped the genders of the “prize” and the competitors, with June Diane Raphael taking the lead as ‘Julie Gristlewhite’, who failed to bag toxic-bachelor ‘Mark Orlando’ (Ken Marino) in the previous season and ended up dating de-closeted lesbian ‘Carly’ (Janet Varney) instead. Apparently that fling flamed out in the intervening months, after Julie realised she wasn’t actually gay, and so she returned to the mansion to be courted by a pack of male suitors (of varying eligibility/instability), in the hope of finding her “fanty-tale”* ending. It would be impossible to overstate how awesome JDR is here, delivering an absolute tour de force performance, playing a character who’s equal parts adorable, inane, insane, and irresistible… and when she locks the full-bore intensity of her lust on disinterested “bad boy” d-bag ‘Blaze’ (Ryan Hansen) it’s hilarious, terrifying, and arousing, all at the same time! Seriously, the scene where she lies in the backyard brazenly humping a cushion in broad daylight, then requests fresh underwear from a waiting production assistant… that’s going to stay in my memory a verrry long time (though the scene where she rages at one contestant for calling her puppet-show date “dumb” comes a close second as a stand-out highlight of the season).

June Diane Raphael as 'Julie Gristlewhite' in "Burning Love" (S2)Julie’s return also gave series creator/writer Erica Oyama a perfect excuse to bring back more female cast members from the previous season, to act as her occasional “advisors”. First up was Abigail Spencer as ‘Annie’, who helped Julie to moderate a “pop quiz” group date for the fellas, inadvertently stealing their attention away with her wholesome charms, and skimpy floor-cleaning outfit. Then Varney cruised by as the heart-broken Carly, who was secretly hoping she could rekindle her relationship with Julie, while supposedly helping her to decide between her final two suitors. Bless. Noureen DeWulf also had a brief cameo in the finale as ‘Titi’, who reiterated her earlier (off-screen, but related to us via Julie) warning that Blaze was seeing someone else, before revealing that she was the comely “someone” in question! Meanwhile, in a parallel subplot, Deanna Russo returned as ‘Tamara G.’, the monkey-hearted “winner” of the previous season, who had since been callously dumped by Mark via a local newspaper front-page, while he was safely out of town… though he rather bizarrely claimed the abrupt break-up was as much of a shock to him as it was to her, having apparently forgotten he wrote and arranged for the “Dear Jane” article to be published in the first place! Feh! Their acrimonious split left Mark free to hijack this season’s finale, and rescue Julie from her Blaze-less indifference with a surprise proposal… though it doesn’t look as if their impromptu “romance” is going to be especially long-lived, either…

Jessica St. Clair as ‘Polly’ and Rebecca Romijn as ‘Katie’ in "Burning Love" (S2)As for the supporting cast: Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor returned as the show’s only surviving couple for a catch-up segment… Katie Aselton played the co-founder of a “Puppet Education” business… Lindsey Kraft played ‘Rebecca’, a Jewish model subbing for Julie during a photo-shoot date with an obsessively-Semitic contestant… Rebecca Romijn, Caroline Sharp, and Jessica St. Clair played the “sister-wives” of one of the finalists, who belatedly revealed himself to be a polygamist… and Danielle Schneider played the overly-emotional sister of a super-proud single-father finalist.

Verdict: I didn’t find this season quite as funny or engaging as the previous one… possibly because I shotgunned it straight after finishing the first season, rather than pacing myself properly, and leaving a little distance between them… but as I said above, JDR was absolutely on fire in every episode (no pun intended), and it’s a damn shame that the Emmys weren’t honouring individual actors/actresses in “short-form” shows when this aired, because she would have been a total shoo-in! I’m already jonesing for more Julie… but I’m going to try to delay watching the third (and final?) season for a little while, so I can appreciate it properly…


* Er, that’s a word Julie coins, combining “fantasy” and “fairy tale”, obviously…

About Dee CrowSeer

A comic-book writer with an interest in philosophy, equality, and diversity. He/him.
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