08th Feb2021

‘Bonding: Season 2’ Review (Netflix)

by Rhys Payne

Bonding is one of those programmes that you discover while deep-scrolling through the Netflix archives but turns out to be an incredible show that makes your wonder why is no one talking about it? I originally reviewed the first season of this show almost two years ago before joining the Nerdly team and the reason I posted my thoughts was to raise awareness of the show… now I’m not saying that it was just me that made a difference but it became popular enough to warrant a second season – which I was thrilled about!

For those of you who are not familiar with Bonding, the series follows the lives Tiff and Pete who fall into becoming a professional dominatrix duo. These two have a very complicated friendship as, despite Pete now identifying as a gay man, at one point they were in a very serious relationship. The two fight and argue like an old married couple but constantly find their way back to each other and this realistic depiction of how friendships develop was very refreshing. Tiff uses the income generated from her side-hustle to fund her university tuition (which I have come to learn so a frighteningly common occurrence across places like America) but Pete uses him to jumpstart his career in stand up comedy. The second season of this show relied heavily upon a deep understanding of the character and awareness of the overarcing narrative of the first season; so I would strongly recommend that if you are interested in watching this show, you watch season one first. This season follows on from the climax of season one where Pete and Tiff (or Mistress May and Carter as they go by) are recovering from losing their jobs and trying to get back into the profession.

In my opinion, Bonding is the perfect millennial comedy, as it has an abundance of sexual references, a collection of gay characters, raises awareness of modern concepts as well as ridiculous/hilarious scenes all contained in a short 15-minute episode. The main purpose of this show (mostly the first season) is to demystify the ideas that surround sex work. The show in no way encourages young people onto this professional but outlines and dispels many ideas people hold about this type of work. There are important discussions around the idea of consent; the reason people get into the profession; and the importance of drawing strong boundaries throughout the show, which shows that the creative team did not simply choose to focus on this profession as it was comedic but instead had a real passion and carried out a lot of research of this field. However, there are many strong sexual references, graphic scenes and sexual depictions throughout the show which makes Bonding a show ONLY for a mature audience (I would recommend 18 or older) who are prepared to laugh at some serious issues.

It’s not just the BDSM community that this show does a fantastic job of representing but also the LGBT+ community also. There is a storyline between Pete and his new boyfriend, who is yet to publicly come out, with one scene where he acts ‘straight’ in front of his old friends and refers to Pete as his ‘friend’. This must be something that many LGBT+ viewers can relate to, whether they have changed who they are to not appear gay or have dated someone who is yet to fully come out, with all the issues this can cause. It was also fantastic to see a “MENtal growth class” which is a male-only group who aim to combat key issues such as sexism, toxic masculinity and the patriarchy. It’s great to see a male group who are enacting a positive change, as often these groups are the ones imposing the things that’s this group stands against.

Now I have to admit that Matthew Wilkas has a role in this show that anyone would be envious of. He plays a charter called Ralph who spend the majority of both seasons of Bonding in a gimp suit and has very few lines of dialogue, until the final episodes in this season. Imagine finding out that you have been cast in this brand new Netflix show where you just stand there in a gimp suit… Dream role amiright? In the final episode, Ralph is in his normal clothes and not his BDSM outfit which I found to be a lot more emotional than I expected it to be!

Overall, Bonding is a fun comedy series that explores some very important and key themes throughout. It shines a light on the sex industry also well as having fantastic representation for the LGBT+ community. I hope Netflix greenlight more seasons in the near future!

****½  4.5/5


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