When last we left The Heart, She Holler, Patton Oswalt’s in-bred Kaspar Hauser Hurlan Heartshe had climbed back into the cave he came from, ceding power to his father, now returned from the grave. As season two reveals, Hurlan’s come out the other side, into an alternate Heartshe Holler where the sets and haircuts are ever so slightly off, and his sister Hershe looks a lot less like a sexually insatiable Kristen Schaal and a lot more like a disfigured Amy Sedaris. Does it matter that this is an alternate Heartshe, or is that just to reset the status quo for a new season of hillbilly incest and Bible-fucking? Well, let me put it this way: I’ve seen both episodes sent to us, numbers one and three of the new season, and as you might be able to guess, I’m not entirely sure what’s happening in that third one. For a seat-of-its-pants soap about fundamentalist self-destruction, the Heartshe family story is pretty complicated.
Everything else is basically the same—Hersche can still lift a man by any body part—only more so, and the plots are typically complicated and crammed into the 11-minute episode. Take Hambrosia, Heather Lawless’ magnificently terrifying psychic. After that first season of faith and repression as an unfailingly submissive wife to the sheriff, she finally goes full Carrie in “Begend The Endginning.” See, Hurlan’s first duty as Mayor of Heartshe is to oversee the Miss Heartshe Pageant. While Hershe’s just going under the knife (in Doc’s garage hospital, naturally) to soup up her well-worn vagina, Hambrosia is slowly cooking herself into pies that her husband is using to bribe Hurlan to pick the right winner. That may have something to do with the Heartshe immortality curse. Allegedly Mee-Maw’s immortal, but it sure seems like none of the Heartshes know how to die, doesn’t it? (I’m also reminded of the greatest gags in season one, a slow but Psycho-ish recurring sound cue playing as Hambrosia intones, “No one can resist my chicken dinner!” and the camera pulls out to reveal her entire house covered in paper plates of chicken and vegetables.) It’s hard to say what mysteries are actually going to be solved this season, partly because this show is anti-mystery. We’re not trying to figure anything out. We’re just trying to keep up .
The pageant is where things start getting really funny. The moment Hershe dances in to a bluegrass jam is already one of the funniest scenes in the series. There’s also the reveal of her new figure, which until then is just implied to be vaginally rejuvenated but in fact now sports three pairs of tits going down her torso with a triple-cleavage-highlighting dress to boot. Hershe eats up the attention, trying to win over the judge, her brother, with her thrice-as-sexy body and sparkly gown. Hambrosia’s entrance, typically, is more subtle. Those pies she’s been cooking herself into (a process by which she climbs into the oven, which produces a pie, and she appears in the next room a shade more transparent) are the main course at the pageant, and since her cooking is magically irresistible, Hurlan has no choice but to crown Pie this year’s Miss Heartshe. Right on cue, a crown is placed on the pie’s head, and Hambrosia, finally appreciated for something, slowly rises from it, covered in her secret-ingredient cherry sauce like Carrie covered in pig’s blood. Suddenly all the pies start spurting blood and organs, festooning the walls with red and the soundtrack with screaming (and licking).
At the beginning (begending?) of its first season, it was hard to get a hold of this show—although a buffoonish Southern dynasty squabbling for power should have been a clue—but by now some of the themes are clear. Beyond the fatal self-abnegation of Hambrosia, deliciously compounded by the domestic act of cooking herself to death, there’s the recurring idea of literal homophobia. Every man in the Holler who fears homosexuality is himself quite turned on by doctorin’ other men all night or the Glory Holy Bible. Authority figures repeatedly outlaw things they feel personally guilty about. And just as season one had its subservient black robot N-Word and bullet abortions, season two finds a way to use another, more outdated racial slur and follows its sinful pregnancies to hideous conclusions. And that’s just in the two episodes I’ve seen. Season two has 14 episodes, airing daily like its spiritual Mee-Maw Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. So it won’t take too long to reveal what happened to the pile of Hurlan corpses in the alternate mayor’s office, or what happens to Hurlan prime for that matter, but either way, I wouldn’t look away if I could.
- Amy Sedaris, decked out in some Emmy-worthy fake teeth, is introduced blowing up a condom poodle without using her mouth or hands in bed with Sheriff. She also gets to tell Sheriff some overdone soap exposition about “my sister, who as you know is your wife.”