The first season of Acorn TV‘s Under The Vines was yet another lesson that character should pretty much be the first consideration when developing a show. Yes, it’s mostly a light drama, but it wouldn’t have worked without the chemistry between its leads and a cast of supporting characters who have their own backstories and quirks. The show’s second season wisely decides to keep on keeping on.
Opening Shot: After the events of Season 1 are given in a recap, we see Daisy (Rebecca Gibney) and Louis (Charles Edwards) uncomfortably making breakfast. They embrace when a mild earthquake shakes the house.
The Gist: A lot has happened at the Oakley vineyard since Daisy and Louis inherited it from her stepfather/his uncle Stanley a year ago. Louis’ wife Simone (Sara Wiseman) has joined Louis and their son Julian (Sam Gardner) in New Zealand, in an effort to save their marriage, just as things have warmed up considerably between Daisy and Louis.
As we see after the tremor, not only is Daisy living in the same house with Louis and his family, she’s also sharing her bedroom with her actor friend Griff (Dean O’Gorman), who has fallen with Gus (Simon Mead), the vineyard’s handyman. Gus, however, wants to be in a relationship with someone who’s come out publicly, something Griff hasn’t done yet. Also heavily involved are Tippy (Trae Te Wiki), the young and highly skilled vintner, as well as Vic (Cohen Holloway) and Nic (Carrie Green), who are expecting and want Daisy and Louis to be the “heart parents” to the baby.
It’s crowded and awkward, but Louis thinks that after the next harvest, he’ll be good to return to London. After the tremor, as everyone cleans up, Simone accidentally vacuums up the bottle that supposedly had Stanley’s ashes in it. Of course, Simone is mortified and Daisy is understanding, but it doesn’t help things.
Louis decides it’s a good time to move out until he and his family go back to London. He meets with Don (Jon Bach), who owns the neighboring — and competing — vineyards with his wife Marissa (Sarah Perise). Don wants to know if the rumors about Marissa that have been going around town are coming from Oakley, something Louis denies. Though Marissa is super competitive, reveling over the new vintner that she’s hired that she knows will help beat Oakley in competitions, Don would rather be a good neighbor. To that end, he rents Louis a nearby house for his family to live in.
Griff, spurred on by Daisy, who’s sick of him whining about Gus, comes out on Instagram, but Gus isn’t happy about being cited as the “hot farmer” in the post. Daisy finds a safe called “Stanley’s Stash”, and the team open it, hoping to find some much-needed cash. And, when another tremor hits, Simone and Louis finally come to realize that they’ve drifted apart, and that Louis is truly happy in New Zealand.Photo: Jae Frew/AcornTV
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? When we reviewed Season 1 of Under The Vines, we felt it gave us strong Newhart vibes. We’d contend that the vibe is now closer to Northern Exposure , but with Newhart still lurking around the edges.
Our Take: By the end of the first season of Under The Vines, creator Erin White had done a good job of setting up the community surrounding Daisy and Louis at Oakley, to the point where the show just needed to start its second season continuing where it left off.
A show that can do that, and not make any big leaps in story, is a show that’s confident about its story and characters. Under The Vines has certainly gotten to that point, with fun characters that have interesting backstories, relationships you want to root for and see develop, and even an “enemy” that’s endearing in Marissa.
As during the first season, the charm and chemistry that Gibney and Edwards bring as Daisy and Louis are the key to the series. We see it in how they react to the gang around them and how they deal with each other now that they know that they’re partners in Oakley for the long haul. Gibney’s vivaciousness is constantly on display, and Edwards has brought out the side of the grumpy Louis that actually feels like he’s found a home at the vineyard. When the people at the center of the series are as easy to watch as this pair are, it makes everything and everyone surrounding them better.
Sex and Skin: None.
Parting Shot: As “heart parents,” Daisy and Louis go to Nic’s first ultrasound, which is when Nic and Vic learn that they’re having twins. Nic faints straightaway.
Sleeper Star: Trae Te Wiki’s character Tippy continues to be an underrated player; Tippy is no-nonsense, but is the only one truly keeping the vineyard from going bankrupt.
Most Pilot-y Line: Gus’s analogy to Griff about Griff featuring him as the “hot farmer” in his Instagram post is a bit disturbing; it’s about the fact that you go to the circus, and you realize the animals are wild and there’s nothing stopping them from jumping in the crowd and eating the audience.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Season 2 of Under The Vines continues to be a delightful light drama about two city people who are finding there’s more to life than living in the city.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com , VanityFair.com , Fast Company and elsewhere.