In its second season, HBO's Hung
continues to explore the dark side of the American Dream--with humor--through one of TV's odder couples. After losing his house and facing the end of his teaching gig, Ray Drecker (Thomas Jane) is trying to get his life back on track. In his off-hours, he doubles as Richard, a happiness consultant. His handler, Tanya (Jane Adams), tries to bring in more clients, but business partner Lenore (Rebecca Creskoff) proves a formidable opponent. Meanwhile, Ronnie (Eddie Jemison) wants to have a baby with Jessica (Anne Heche), and twins Darby (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) and Damon (Charlie Saxton) are still bickering.
While Ray is entertaining the ladies--including the married neighbor with whom he's having an affair--fellow baseball coach Mike (Clark Gregg) is going through a midlife crisis of his own until he meets Frances (Chicago Hope's Roxanne Hart, very good), a widow who thinks he's also a gigolo, a situation Tanya complicates when she takes advice from veteran pimp Charlie (Lennie James). Says Tanya to Ray after Damon (accidentally) tries his first pot-laced pastry, "I'm good in a crisis." Replies Ray, "You are a crisis."
If Hung remains engaging, the second year doesn't make as much of an impact as the first, though Jane and Heche continue to do fine work (Creskoff and Adams come close to caricature at times). As a whole, the series, which was renewed for a third year, feels like it's in a holding pattern, with the exception of Damon, who becomes less off-putting and more sympathetic as he forms an identity separate from his sister, who resents his success. The most notable guest director is Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right), who helms "Beaverville," in which Jess spots a furry creature--the four-legged kind--in the basement. --Kathleen C. Fennessy