Casual Season 3 Premiere Review: Truth, Donuts and A Table

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They say the truth shall set you free... and then swiftly knock you down.

Alex and Valerie have always had a complicated brother-sister relationship. Casual Season 3 Episode 1 took it's time showing how living apart has affected them. But more importantly, it was their mother's revelation that hit them like a ton of bricks.

Casual Season 3 Episode 2 followed the aftermath of Dawn's confession with Alex and Valerie taking a walk down memory lane around Burbank. And Casual Season 3 Episode 3 left everyone with questions about their futures. 

What's in the Box? - Casual

Casual has quietly become one of my favorite shows to watch. It snuck up on me and captured my heart as I binge watched the first two seasons in a single weekend. 

The complex bond between Alex and Valerie is what intrigued me. I've never seen a show portray an adult brother-sister relationship with so much humor and pain. 

At the end of Casual Season 2, Alex, Valerie, and her daughter, Laura, sat back and watched their father choose to end his life before his illness took him. Oh yeah, there was also Chinese food as they waited.

After their father's death, Valerie decided it was time for her and Laura to move out of Alex's house. Unfortunately for both siblings, they can barely function like normal adults without each other.

In a way, Valerie was hoping Alex would be a complete disaster without her. But from the outside, he appeared to be doing great. The reality was far more hilarious. 

Alex made his house guest feel more and more uncomfortable. It made me wonder if he is really that oblivious to how he can come across or if he knowingly chose to be awkward. 

Valerie found herself living next to a hot, young landlord, named Tina, whose all about good vibes and energy, but can't seem to call someone to fix Valerie's sink. She was bound to lash out at Tina.

Who could blame her? Valerie has found herself as a forty year old divorced woman having to live as tenant under a woman who probably wouldn't get any of her music or movie references. 

She's not getting his ashes. We murdered him. We did the dirty work.

Valerie

To make matters a thousand times worse, Dawn requested Charles' ashes be brought to her during his funeral. From what we've seen of their mother, I completely sided with Alex and Valerie. 

Dawn is the type of person who is completely self-centered. She acts all independent and free from the conventions of normal society, but really, she just does what she wants. Other people's feelings be damned.

That's why her reveal that Charles isn't Valerie's father was at once horrifying, humiliating, and hilarious. Laura couldn't help but burst out laughing at the absurdity of the situation.

Alex and Valerie - Casual Season 3 Episode 1

This revelation brings up so many questions. Who is Valerie's real father? Does he know she exists? What does this mean for her and Alex going forward?

Despite his flaws, Alex knows how to put on his supportive brother hat when the time calls for it. After stealing Charles' ashes and ditching the funeral, Alex convinced Valerie to take a stroll around Burbank and revisit their old stomping grounds.

Their trip to a donut shop, their old high school, and their old home was a lovely and quiet backdrop compared to the fury of emotions swirling within Valerie.

Her life has been a lie. She spent years trying to figure out why her father was so indifferent toward. She doubted herself, and the lack of affection from Charles definitely influenced other relationships she's had with men.

You were less than perfect. I spent many a night asking myself what I did to deserve you. But you were there, ultimately. In whatever small capacity, you were there. And I'm grateful for that.

Valerie

Their journey around town eventually culminated with them releasing Charles' ashes from a hilltop. Both Valerie's and Alex's farewell speeches to their father highlighted what it's like losing a parent you never truly understood. As we grow up and succumb to the realities of adulthood, we also learn our parents aren't perfect and never could be.

I'm not trying to excuse any of Dawn and Charles' actions. They were clearly too distant, too unconventional, and too self-absorbed to be the parents Alex and Valerie needed.

But there can be a feeling of peace when letting go of long-held grudges. Charles wasn't the father Valerie needed him to be, but he was there. She needed to acknowledge that for her own sanity.

Alex and Valerie - Casual Season 3 Episode 2

The second installment of the season is definitely my favorite so far for several reasons. Aside from Alex's confrontation with Dawn, we spent the majority of the episode watching him take care of his sister.

Valerie's sense of self was in panic mode. Alex was there to remind her who she was and always has been. That's a good brother. 

I also adored their trip back to the theater of their high school. There's something so nostalgic and sad about returning to the places that shaped us as kids and teenagers. 

Due to their parents' lack of normal support and love, Alex and Valerie have relied on each other for that. So of course, Alex would stand up and confront his mother for her tasteless act.

Even though they are now aware they are half-siblings, Alex doesn't want anything to change. That's why I saw I quick flash of fear behind his eyes when Dawn confessed another secret. Not only does Valerie have a different father out there, but she also has another half-brother. 

Alex: It was unkind, what you did to Valerie. Telling her like that in front of all those people.
Dawn: Do you ever get tired of speaking for your sister?
Alex: I don't speak for her.
Dawn: But I feel like we've had this conversation before, many times now.
Alex: I don't know if you're lonely. I assume you must be. But telling her about some secret father isn't gonna bring her back to you.

Alex has yet to tell Valerie about this additional piece of information, and I assume for selfish reasons. They are constantly in each other's orbits. Another sibling would change their dynamic forever. When the truth eventually comes out, I'm not sure how Valerie will react.

By the third installment of the season, everyone seems to be in a state of limbo. Valerie can barely stand her patients anymore. Whether they are eating during their sessions or using surface-level arguments to hide the real problems, Valerie just seemed over it all.

She'd been anxiously awaiting the arrival of a table for her new home, and it's all she could focus on or care about. This pathetic realization made her cringe. 

But the table represented a larger issue for Valerie. Knowing Charles isn't her father, she's now begun to question who she has been shaped into. Maybe it's time for a professional change. At least that's what I got from Valerie checking out classes at UCLA. 

Valerie: Okay fine, I wanted the table, Laura. And instead I got Samsungs and meatballs and drills, and I just wanted to come home, sit at a table, open up my journal that the girl from Clover said is ethical and eco-friendly, because it's made from the hide of sheep that died from old age, and I just wanted to map out how I was gonna make my life feel different. I just want... I just want things to feel different.
Laura: You really need a table for that?

Alex's day wasn't any better. First he had a horrendous job interview (with people all younger than him), and then he had a meeting with his accountant saying he needed to desperately budget himself. Alex needs to find a job ASAP because he can't keeping living in that beautiful house otherwise.

He now has to chauffeur his booty calls home instead of calling them an Uber. Maybe it's time for Alex to reevaluate what he wants out of life.

Laura's ugly tattoo has been bothering her. Despite her best efforts to get her parents to pay for its removal, she's been forced to act like a grown up and pay for it herself. 

Her adventure partaking in a sex study was an interesting detour from working in a mundane job, but ultimately she wasn't cool with the invasive questions. More specifically, she wasn't comfortable with a stranger questioning her mother's parenting skills. 

I'm glad Laura went back to the boring signature job. We all have to pay our dues at some point. 

Someone Needs a New Table - Casual

While Valerie was off at work, Leon was tasked with waiting for the arrival of her table. Leon has been a fascinating character to watch. He's often left on the sidelines, and sometimes I wonder why he even associates with these people.

I just want to give him a big hug. Valerie didn't seem to appreciate his indoor picnic as an apology for missing the table drop-off. Leon is such a gentleman and a great friend. They don't deserve him, honestly.

Leon needs a better storyline than standing around doing favors for Valerie and Alex. He deserves to be the star of his own life.

Overall, this is a great start to the season. Alex and Valerie being half-siblings set the stage for a season of change. I can't wait to see what happens next.

So over to you! Were you surprised by Dawn's reveal? Should Valerie look into a new profession? What are your predictions for Casual Season 3 Episode 4?

Ashes to Ashes Review

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Amanda Steinmetz was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in June of 2027. Follow her on Twitter.

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Casual Season 3 Episode 1 Quotes

Alex: Hey. Question for you. Do you think our obsession with borders and national identity is holding us back from creating a global egalitarian society or are we, as animals in a world of scarce resources, simply destined for a life of tribal infighting?
Hans: That is a very complicated question.
Alex: Oh. Right? It's funny the things you think about when you've got free time.

Valerie: Did I tell you that he's renting out bedrooms like a brothel?
Laura: Well does he make money from just the rooms or does he take a piece of the action? Brothel-wise?