Published Oct 27, 2017Toronto has a population of over 2.8 million people, which is a good thing for Canadian filmmaker Matt Johnson. For a decade, the prankster extraordinaire has made a career out of working with the unsuspecting, first with a series of web videos about a fictional band trying to get a gig at The Rivoli and later with his movies The Dirties (a mass shooter drama that found Johnson actually enrolling in a high school, even though he had already graduated university in real life) and 2016's Operation Avalanche (a faux documentary about the faking of the moon landing he filmed, in part, at NASA while pretending to be a documentarian).
Last year Johnson and partner Jay McCarrol returned to the characters that first gained them notoriety with the VICELAND-produced Nirvanna the Band the Show, and they're back at it again with a second season.
Much is still the same: Matt and Jay play outlandish, naive versions of themselves, and they're still obsessed with getting onstage at The Rivoli (despite having no songs to their name). But while the first season found them rehashing old plotlines from their early web videos and making the most of their anonymity in a bustling city, this time around there are fewer street hijinks.
Early episodes screened for the press showed the two comedic actors trolling stoners at Yonge-Dundas Square on 4/20, crashing a local music industry party and trying to trick or treat as adults. But the best scenes usually involved them making the most of the cozy, movie poster-strewn confines of their Shaw street home: an easily identifiable (and accessible, for hardcore fans) building located near the heart of the city that doubles as a workplace for Johnson's Zapruder Films production company.
Part of that probably has to do with the pair's popularity (much like Kenny vs. Spenny before them, the bigger the cult following, the harder it is to get natural reactions from people when most of your show revolves around interacting with the public), but also a tighter turnaround (their first season debuted less than a year ago). To make up for it, Season 2 finds Johnson and McCarrol injecting their storylines and scripts with the kind of cinematic and pop culture references fit for The Simpsons' writer's room (in their heyday, at least).
In doing so, it expands on the kind of cultural cool established in the first season, and proves Johnson and McCarrol are two of the top Canadian TV talents out there, whether the city (and, slowly but surely, the world) knows about them or not. (VICELAND)