Simone Nathan is the creator, writer and star of Kid Sister (Photo: TVNZ)
Simone Nathan is the creator, writer and star of Kid Sister (Photo: TVNZ)

Pop CultureJune 21, 2024

The return of Kid Sister’s 30-year-old child

Simone Nathan is the creator, writer and star of Kid Sister (Photo: TVNZ)
Simone Nathan is the creator, writer and star of Kid Sister (Photo: TVNZ)

There’s plenty to love about season two of Simone Nathan’s comedy series.

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Lulu Emanuel is pushing like she’s never pushed before. Her hospital bed is surrounded by a midwife, Lulu’s mother and the rest of her family, who take turns ordering Lulu to push and then screaming in terror. Moments later, the ordeal is over. An exhausted Lulu lifts her head as the midwife gently places a delicate parcel in her arms. Congratulations to one and all: it’s a beautiful loaf of challah bread.

It might have only been a nightmare, but these opening scenes of season two of Kid Sister hint at what lies ahead: chaos. Simone Nathan’s semi-autobiographical comedy series about a young woman and her Jewish-New Zealand family is back for a second season, dropping us straight into Lulu’s (Nathan) never-ending family drama. Lulu has adopted her newborn baby out to her brother and sister-in-law, her boyfriend Ollie (Paul Williams, Nathan’s real life husband) is preparing to convert to Judaism, and Lulu still doesn’t have a clue about what to do with her life.

It’s a welcome reunion with many of season one’s most memorable characters, including Lulu’s brilliantly terrifying mother Keren (Amanda Billing, stealing every scene), and Lulu’s hornbag grandad Hershey (Peter Hayden), the elderly lothario who sneaks out every night for clandestine hookups at the local rest home. There’s some charming new characters too, including Ollie’s mum Bridget (Hera Dunleavy), the liberal antithesis to Keren’s controlling matriarch (“that woman is a bacterial infection,” Keren declares), and Lulu’s quirky new flatmate Raymond (a delightful Bailey Poching).

Kid Sister, season two (Photo: TVNZ)

It’s a rich world, and these lively, unpredictable characters offer light relief as Lulu struggles her way through the season. “I’m 30 years old and not a damn thing to show for it,” she announces in episode one. Lulu seems nonchalant about giving her baby up for adoption and her grand life plan to… make small clay figures? Lie down a lot?… is disrupted by her eternally-patient boyfriend’s plans to convert. As Ollie enthusiastically embraces the religious practices so important to Lulu’s family, it’s Lulu who begins to have misgivings about their relationship. “He’s morphing into exactly the thing I was trying to avoid,” she tells her mother.

Lulu constantly fights against other people’s expectations, but ultimately, she’s fighting against herself. Despite all the tremendous, life-altering experiences of season one, it often feels like Lulu hasn’t grown much – she’s still a self-absorbed, 30-year-old child who hides on the family trampoline rather than deal with her problems. Perhaps this is because the show feels less certain when it shifts from comedy into the more serious drama, and initially it feels like the show moves on too hastily from Lulu’s experience with baby Noah.

But without revealing any spoilers, don’t give up on Lulu. It’s worth staying with her until the very end, with the final episode delivering a spectacular argument, some heartfelt surprises and an unexpected musical moment that left me wearing a gushy old grin. It’s also worth noting that this is a gorgeous show to watch. From the rich mid-century vibe of the Rabbi’s house to the soft stained-glass light of Lulu and Ollie’s villa, everything about Kid Sister is stylishly and beautifully shot.

Lulu may be the epicentre of Kid Sister, but this is a show about family and all the weird eccentricities that push us apart and pull us back together. Season two gives us the hope that one day, we too will grow up and start behaving like proper adults – or at the very least, channel just a fraction of the frenzied energy of glorious matriarch Keren. There’s plenty to love about Kid Sister, and with an ending that leaves season three wide open, I’d happily come back to visit the Emanuels again.

Kid Sister streams on TVNZ+.

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