The Mysterious Benedict Society
TELEVISION | Season 2 of a wholesome and thought-provoking children’s show critiques the pursuit of empty happiness
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➤ Rated TV-PG
Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance—four very special children with very special talents—are back for Season 2 of The Mysterious Benedict Society, the television series based on the popular children’s books by Trenton Lee Stewart. The main cast returns, led once again by Emmy winner Tony Hale as Mr. Benedict. (Hale is one of the few actors who’s spoken openly about being a Christian in Hollywood.) So far the delightful series has continued the wholesome, thought-provoking, and entertaining trend it began in its first season.
In that season, Mr. Benedict and the children saved the world from the evil genius Dr. Curtain, who also happens to be Mr. Benedict’s twin brother. Dr. Curtain used distraction and disinformation to create a social crisis—dubbed “The Emergency”—in which everything seemed to be going wrong, but no one could explain why. Mr. Benedict and the four remarkable children foil Dr. Curtain’s plan, and “The Emergency” dissipates.
Season 2 begins a year later with Dr. Curtain taking credit for ending “The Emergency,” while Mr. Benedict plans a fun scavenger hunt for the four children that will culminate in a reunion. The story loosely follows the second novel in Stewart’s series, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey. Curtain still has plans for world domination, and he kidnaps Mr. Benedict and his sidekick Number Two. When the children find out about the kidnapping, they decide it’s up to them to rescue their friends, so they follow Mr. Benedict’s scavenger-hunt clues, embarking on a journey across the globe.
As with the first season, this television adaptation follows both the children and the adults, rather than just focusing on the children, but this second season of the television series deviates from the book more than the first season did. Yet so far, the changes actually improve on the book. The first book and TV season both talked about the importance of truth, encouraging us to cut through the world’s noise and manufactured outrage. The second book doesn’t contain such weighty themes, but the television series ups the stakes.
Season 2 of The Mysterious Benedict Society asks some unsettling questions of our own society because the villain’s method of subverting truth and human nature strikes close to home. Dr. Curtain discovers a way to elicit happiness in people by exploiting certain stimuli. Mr. Benedict finds this biological manipulation horrific, but what’s wrong with being happy? But is fake happiness really happiness at all? And do we deny something about our humanity when we deny ourselves emotional ups and downs?
Too often Americans seek to numb the pain of life through digital amusements and pharmaceuticals. We can learn much from a kids’ show that critiques our pursuit of empty happiness and instead emphasizes the importance of kindness, friendship, and family.
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