Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Article first published as BURNING LOVE Burns Again on

E! presents the second season of Burning Love beginning this week. Initially a web series, Burning Love is a parody of reality dating competitions, like a comedy version of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, with what is a likely a similar scripted to improv ratio. Contestants of one gender compete for the love of a single person of the opposite sex.

Watching seasons one and two, a viewer would be forgiven for thinking there have been at least four cycles of Burning Love. Season one began by profiling the winner of the previous year (which wasn't actually filmed), and in the continuity of the show, another season takes place between one and two, subtitled Hot for Teacher, which again, was never made. This confuses things a little bit, and sent me running to the internet to make sure I hadn't missed anything. But it's hard to blame the writers for extending the mythology without wasting our time with filler.

In season two, the main woman whose affection men are competing for is Julie Gristlewhite (June Diane Raphael, NTSF:SD:SUV), a dental hygienist who was in season one, and was last seen in a lesbian relationship. Ditching her partner, Carly (Janet Varney, The Legend of Korra), Julie is ready to try the penis again, and the producers are happy to oblige.

Host Bill Tundle (Michael Ian Black, Ed) is back, as is the house and set up. While season two definitely has some differences in the way the initial premiere unfolds, there is also consistency in the structure of the show and some of the players. This provides a satisfying through-line for the series.

Many of the faces are familiar, too. Damien (Adam Scott) was a therapist in the first cycle and is now competing, but that's not exactly what I'm talking about. Basically, most of the actors are either stars or major guest stars in projects such as Childrens Hospital and NTSF:SD:SUV, two Cartoon Network shows that also trace their roots to the web. Raphael, Ken Marino, Rob Huebel, Martin Starr, Nick Kroll, Malin Akerman, Michael Cera, and others have that connection. Various other cast members have worked with this group in other projects, too, such as The League, Party Down, and The Greatest Event in Television History.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but seeing all these people pop up alongside one another over and over again makes me think they're an extremely talented troupe who weren't getting enough work and so starting creating some of their own, inviting friends they made along the way to participate, constantly expanding their call sheet. Honestly, I think of them as doing their own, both more and less cohesive, multi-platform version of Saturday Night Live, and I'm loving it.

Burning Love, like all of those I've mentioned in the past couple of episodes is hilarious! From Bill mispronouncing Julie's name and the word 'gentlemen,' to Julie throwing herself all over a disinterested Blaze (Ryan Hansen, Veronica Mars), to Teddy (Nick Thune, Knocked Up) repeating the same song lyrics, to Khris (Nick Kroll) getting tossed out for being drunk, to Allison (Colin Hanks, The Good Guys) defending his name, there is a constant string of laughs packed into the half hour. The best bit may have even been the show-within-a-show's last minute minimal effort to add diversity to the cast. I can't wait to see more.

Burning Love airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET on E!, and more webisodes are available through Yahoo.

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