HomeUncategorizedHow to Appreciate Season 2 of the Peacock Show

How to Appreciate Season 2 of the Peacock Show

Sometimes, it’s fun to watch grown-ups behave like kids. I’m not talking about an adult man in a business suit finger-painting the walls — I’m talking about a group of men and women fully committing themselves to an elaborate fantasy scenario, treating it as serious life-or-death business in the way that only committed kids on the playground can manage. Unlike the contestants on the Peacock reality series The Traitors, kids aren’t playing for a cash prize… but the vibe is pretty much the same.

The Traitors just wrapped up its second season, with a very dramatic finale and a reunion special, and I am here to sing its praises, after word of mouth pushed me to check out Season 2. Yes, it’s essentially just the party game of Werewolf or Mafia, being played in a beautiful Scottish castle, but when you play Werewolf with your friends or colleagues, Alan Cumming isn’t there to narrate while wearing something fabulous.

Alan Cumming’s presence is a huge factor in this series’s success, as the veteran stage and screen star leans hard into his Scottish heritage for both his fashion choices (not as many kilts as you’d expect, but certainly more than a few!) and his incredible line delivery. Whatever Cumming earns for hosting this series, he more than earns it with every utterance of the word “murrrrrrderrrrrrrr.” (Yes, with that many Rs.)

But the delights of The Traitors extend beyond the multisyllabic delivery of its host. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the basic thrust is this: The Traitors Season 2 began with 22 players — the majority of them serving as the Faithful, with a select few designated as Traitors in the first episode. Everyone works collectively to earn money through various absurd challenges while the Faithful attempt to figure out who the Traitors in their midst are; those designated as Traitors do their best to keep their true nature a secret, while occasionally “murdering” potential threats.

Players are eliminated either via “murder” or banishment, which occurs after enough Faithful vote on them being Traitors — whether or not they actually are Traitors. Alarmingly often, the Faithful in Season 2 banished suspected Traitors who were actually innocent. A lot of mistakes were made.

Part of appreciating The Traitors, for me, goes back to growing up watching Nickelodeon shows like Double Dare and Wild and Crazy Kids, where people would fling themselves into physical challenges and often come out the other side muddy and/or wet and/or covered in other substances. Though, honestly, the physical challenges showcased in The Traitors Season 2 often were sometimes a little too convoluted or lacking in momentum to stay engaging. The real fun was in the backstabbing.

The cast of Season 2 of The Traitors, unlike Season 1, consisted entirely on reality show alumni, with the perhaps unexpected result that almost immediately, divisions and cliques formed between those from “drama” series like Real Housewives and other Bravo shows, and the “gamers” from series like Survivor and Big Brother. (Where does Peter Weber, a one-time Bachelor, fit into the mix? That’s actually one of the bigger surprises of the season!)

No shade intended towards an entire subgenre of reality television, but prior to watching The Traitors Season 2, I could not tell you the full name of a single Real Housewife. Yet quickly into the season, I became a devout follower of Phaedra (whose last name is Parks, I now know, because I looked it up). Looking impeccable in her giant furs, Phaedra was the most impressive of the Traitors this season — for fear of spoilers, I won’t go into any further detail, but Phaedra turning into one of the show’s most compelling figures is the appeal of The Traitors in a nutshell: An unexpected contender becoming a ruthless figure.

Because of their veteran status, all of the players have a certain level of savviness when it comes to playing the game — the game of being on camera and talking shit about other people, at the very least. As evidenced by the Season 2 reunion special, there were more hurt feelings than one might expect, and there’s a final twist that feels a little more personal for the players involved. But the majority of people involved seem to have a solid understanding of how ridiculous the entire operation is, and embrace it on that level.

The second season is now complete, and binge-watching The Traitors is honestly the superior experience, as the episode structure often leads to quasi-annoying cliffhangers. And you want to avoid that annoyance because otherwise this is the kind of show that’s true smooth-brained escape, the solution to a stressful day as opposed to the cause of more tension. While the show’s premise is built on the idea of life and death stakes, it’s the furthest thing from it, and perhaps that’s the magic that makes it work. It’s grown adults playing a deeply unserious game so very seriously — and that’s what makes it a blast.

The Traitors Season 2 is streaming now on Peacock.

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