‘Sweet­bit­ter’ serves up height­ened angst in Sea­son 2 of Starz restau­rant drama

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - On Tv - BY GE­ORGE DICKIE

Fol­low­ing up on the ex­po­si­tion of Sea­son 1, the lay­ers of the prover­bial onion be­gin to peel away for the char­ac­ters as the Starz restau­rant drama “Sweet­bit­ter” re­turns for its sec­ond course this week.

Premier­ing Sun­day, July 14, the new sea­son finds the work­ers at the chic Man­hat­tan eatery 22W fac­ing their own chal­lenges. Chief among them is small­town girl Tess (Ella Pur­nell), who is grap­pling with an aware­ness of her own power now that she has some knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence in wait­ress­ing and life un­der her belt.

That’s not great news for her men­tor and pseudo-idol Si­mone (Caitlin FitzGer­ald), a fel­low server who feels trapped in her limited world at the restau­rant and dogged by her mys­te­ri­ous re­la­tion­ship with bar­tender Jake (Tom Stur­ridge). Also feel­ing hope­lessly bound to his work­place is gen­eral man­ager Howard (Paul Sparks), who of­ten finds him­self play­ing ref­eree for his spir­ited charges, which also in­clude back­wait­ers Will (Evan Jonigkeit), Ari (Eden Ep­stein) and Sasha (Dani­yar) and server Heather (Jas­mine Mathews).

“I think what’s great about Sea­son 2 for all the char­ac­ters,” FitzGer­ald says, “is we get to know them a lot more and a lot more in­ti­mately . ... I think as the onion is peeled, the re­la­tion­ships get more com­pli­cated and the dy­nam­ics get more com­pli­cated. And I think es­pe­cially for Si­mone, there are a few in­stances that re­ally sort of chal­lenge her au­thor­ity and chal­lenge her per­ceived con­trol, par­tic­u­larly re­lat­ing with Tess, and that’s hard for her and com­pli­cated.”

And that re­la­tion­ship, FitzGer­ald says, will evolve as the sea­son pro­gresses.

“I think Si­mone saw in Tess per­haps in some ways a younger ver­sion of her­self,” she explains, “and cer­tainly some­one who would read­ily be an acolyte. And as that kind of starts to shift in Sea­son 2, it’s very con­fronting for Si­mone. Si­mone is a con­trol freak, to say the least. And Si­mone’s con­trol is a frag­ile ed­i­fice that she’s built. This restau­rant is kind of her king­dom, which is tragic in a way be­cause her world is re­ally small. But when her con­trol gets threat­ened, she doesn’t take it very well.”

Things don’t go so eas­ily for Si­mone with Howard, ei­ther.

“I would say the re­la­tion­ship be­tween them is a lit­tle fraught this sea­son,” FitzGer­ald says. “I think his­tor­i­cally Si­mone and Howard have kind of fig­ured out how they both op­er­ate in this restau­rant and where the power lies and that also gets chal­lenged this sea­son and sort of thrown up in the air.

“They def­i­nitely know each other too well,” she con­tin­ues with a laugh, “and I think at one point Paul and I talked about there hav­ing been some kind of ro­mance af­fair be­tween them. But they’ve known each other for­ever also, so it’s been kind of when they get along it’s re­ally great and they’re re­ally close.

“But when they don’t get along they have a lot of ammo on each other and they kind of know how to push each other’s but­tons.”

Tom Stur­ridge and Caitlin FitzGer­ald star in “Sweet­bit­ter,” which re­turns for Sea­son 2 Sun­day on Starz.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.