“Why would they reboot a show that no one watches?”
In October 2017, YouTube Premium (then Youtube Red) dropped Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television*, a meta buddy cop comedy starring actor Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars, Party Down) as an extremely exaggerated version of himself and Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black, The Handmaid’s Tale) as Detective Mathers, the unfortunate LAPD cop tasked with partnering with him. All eight episodes poked fun at Hansen’s B-list actor status, YouTube Red’s unfortunate name, and the concept of paying to watch YouTube. It also did so with an all-star guest cast, because Ryan Hansen has made plenty of famous friends over the years. A few months later, YouTube Red rebranded to YouTube Premium, Cobra Kai premiered and was a smash hit, and that pretty much put the writing on the wall for Ryan Hansen…*. Surprisingly, Ryan Hansen…* got renewed for a second season just a few months after that, despite the press release for the renewal noting the show’s “abysmally low ratings.”
Season two is now here, and the only thing that’s really changed — other than the acknowledgment of how crazy it is the show got renewed — is the lack of full-time Samira Wiley. Instead, Hansen gets a new reluctant partner out of Wood Harris’ (The Wire) Detective Vincente, a plays-by-his-own-rules cop who regularly threatens to kill Hansen. Vincente fills in for Mathers when she gets shot and put into a “contractually-induced coma.”
There are at least a dozen jokes this season about Wiley’s absence, sometimes even in the form of blink and you’ll miss ‘em comments. While that might sound like overkill, the jokes are somewhat cathartic after a first season of non-viewers wondering why Wiley was slumming it on YouTube Red. However, her absence in this season is quite the blow to the series because she and Hansen had terrific buddy cop chemistry. While this second season is quite ambitious and a worthy follow-up, the lack of this dynamic is the hardest pill to swallow. Ryan Hansen…* is smart not to just do the same thing over again with Harris’ Vincente though, as he brings a different energy to the show and a different dynamic with Hansen — even though both cops pull off frustrated with that clown — than Wiley.
Despite essentially losing their ace to her full-time job and knowing that YouTube Premium took an “insane gamble” (the show’s words) with this renewal, Ryan Hansen…* doubles down on its easily-collapsable world (thanks to all the show within a show aspects ) and meta humor, opting to go even more inside baseball when it comes to its entertainment industry and genre-specific jokes, not even pretending to actually care about being more accessible to a popular audience. It’s a niche show on a niche streaming network after all, and unlike Cobra Kai, it didn’t have the already a beloved movie to give it a boost right out the gate.
One of the show within a show components of the series — the family sitcom at the end — gets even more bizarre, as Jon Cryer has to be recast as the Hansen family’s nextdoor neighbor (due to the end of the first season) and, at one point, the show just says it’s willing to do whatever it can to spike the ratings and goes full This Is Us. Not only does the series get weirder this season — like a less Police Squad-inspired Angie Tribeca, in terms of its wide knowledge of genre tropes — Hansen seems even more self-deprecating as a result of Mathers’ shooting.