'Doll & Em' Season 2 Moves From Hollywood To Broadway, Bringing New Challenges For The Esrtwhile Friends

There are other meta-comedies on television that lampoon the entertainment industry and its many eccentricities — see Showtime's Episodes or HBO's Extras. And there are other sitcoms that center around a friendship between two women — see Comedy Central's Broad City or USA's Playing House. But there's only one show on television that manages to lampoon the entertainment industry while centering around a female friendship — and that's Doll & Em. Created by, written by, and starring real-life besties Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells (of The Newsroom and the upcoming Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, respectively), Doll & Em returned for Season 2 on HBO this Sunday night.

In its first season, the half-hour dramedy — a British production that premieres across the pond before airing on the premium cable channel stateside — focused on the struggles between the titular pair as Dolly tried to be Emily's assistant on a big-budget movie. For the show's sophomore season, the action is moving from sunny Los Angeles to crowded New York City, as it shifts its focus from the glitz of Hollywood to the glamour of Broadway.

The Season 1 finale climaxed with Em's brilliant idea that she and Doll should write a play together. Season 2 sees that idea come to fruition, with the two friends holed up in a cramped lighthouse together, until they emerge days (weeks? months?) later with a script titled "Joanna's Gift." Thanks to Doll's crush Buddy, the pair gets the chance to mount their play on the Great White Way. Naturally, this process will not go nearly as smoothly as they seem to think it will. Season 1 already proved that these two longtime pals have a hard time working together as boss/employee; will working as co-playwrights/directors/stars be any easier? And will the Broadway elite welcome these two "aging" women any more readily than Hollywood's high society?

Many of Doll & Em's familiar trappings remain the same in Season 2: the verisimilitude, the understated British humor, the high-profile guest stars — including dancer/actor Mikhail Baryshnikov (above) as the producer of "Joanna's Gift." But the change in location also signals several seismic shifts for the show itself. For one, the power dynamics between the central pair are far less unbalanced than they were last season... at least initially. (The cliffhanger revelation that Em has been offered a part in a feature film will undoubtedly throw a wrench in the works.) This level playing field provides more opportunity for sincerity and lightheartedness, when compared to the angst and cringe-humor that distinguished the first season.

Of course, there will likely be plenty of opportunity for cringing as Season 2 continues. In the meantime, viewers can once again marvel at a remarkable roster of guest stars; while Season 1 featured the likes of Susan Sarandon, John Cusack, and Chloë Sevigny, this year promises appearances by Ewan McGregor, Olivia Wilde and Evan Rachel Wood.

Check out this promo for look at what else Season 2 has in store in its remaining five episodes:

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Images: K.C. Bailey/HBO (2)