Getting On is one of the best, rawest, and most honest comedy shows on premium cable. Even though it's not talked about as much as HBO's other, and honestly lesser, comedies, the half-hour show about a group of nurses and doctors working in the geriatric wing of a major hospital, struggling with each other's neuroses while trying to make sense of the labyrinthine bureaucratic absurdities of the US healthcare system, has been going strong so far, with the third season already underway on HBO.
Even though it focuses more on continuous character development and adopts a more serialized approach, the second season of the show more or less retains the quality of the first season. To get a more detailed description of what I think about the overall show, you can also check out my review of the first season.
The first season of Getting On mostly focused on episodic yet hilarious isolated incidents that the characters had to deal with. Incidents that might be gross and incredibly inconvenient in more traditional settings, becomes day-to-day activity for nurses like Dawn (Alex Borstein) and Didi (Niecy Nash). For example, the pilot episode spent a considerable amount of its runtime on what the nurses should do about a piece of human poop left on a chair. The matter-of-fact way the characters related to such conflict, coupled with the show's appropriately flat and dry videography, created the show's unique absurd flavor.
The second season mostly excises these comedy set pieces in favor of introducing more characters and developing the ones that were already established. There are some of these set pieces sprinkled throughout, including a hilarious bit where the doctors try to translate intricate medical information using sign language via Skype, but the second season mostly adopts a serialized format. This is a smart approach; the first season introduced us to the characters' quirks, so the second season can show more depth, now that we're already accustomed to them.
Jenna (Laurie Metcalf) is still an insane person in doctor's scrubs, who always looks like she's a second away from suffering a full mental breakdown. Her obsession with her kooky gender fluidity experiments pushes her to seek profit from dying patients. This sub-plot provides the season with its brutal satire of our country's "healthcare for profit" model. Didi was the "straight man" of the first season, now she tries to work the system to get a measly 25 cents an hour raise.
Getting On doesn't shy away from tackling serious issues. It has to in order to remain honest, since it deals with a place that faces death every day. One of the most disturbing sub-plots involves an elderly alcoholic woman denying her disease. The way this sub-plot concludes, as well as a lack of convenient resolution for it, is truly disturbing and sad. Of course that doesn't mean that the showrunners get rid of their playful touches. I have a feeling that they cast Ricky Jay to play a doctor in a short scene only to have him say "We're not magicians". "I saw a documentary on the beaver. They might be making a comeback" might be the best line on television in 2015.
Staying true to the first season, the second season also showcases a gray and cold videography that correctly communicates the desolate nature of the geriatric ward. The 1080p transfer perfectly captures this intentionally flat look. If you have an HBO streaming service, you'd be fine watching it on HD streaming. Of course the Blu-ray looks better and has more definition, but unless you want to own the show on physical media, the disc will not offer a lot of visible difference. That being said, of course this is the best this season will look anywhere.
The DTS-HD 5.1 transfer is a bit superfluous, since the show barely has any surround presence. It's very dialogue-based and doesn't really have a score other than the brief subtle music that's played during the credits sequences. The dialogue comes off clearly, but don't expect much else.
Deleted Scenes: 15 minutes of deleted material. Some amusing stuff here, but most of it would have slowed the pace down.
Gag Reel: 7 minutes of the cast goofing around.
Even though it's not as daring as the first season, the second season of Getting On expands the characters and gives them more depth. It might not be more simplistic, laugh-out-loud comedy, but it's one of the best shows around for audiences looking for brutal honesty mixed with dry wit.