The 22nd Season of Jan felt like the writers intentionally challenging themselves. Jan was thrusted into unfamiliar territory and it looks like he may be getting out, but not without a few scratches.
The season started out with Jan waking up in a daze yet reborn from a hazy night of cheap beer and cherry bombs. It was refreshing to see the writers finally engage the Romantic subplot this season, something they had been tip-toeing around in previous seasons. In this season we also saw a few main characters take a break from the show, something that had been hinted at in season 21. It is unclear which of these characters left for better things or due to grievances with other actors.
The College subplot came to an end with a whimper. They tried to leave the question of whether he would go to graduation ambiguous, but even a casual viewer would think the answer was obvious. I think I speak for everyone when I say that slashing the Work subplot has been the best thing to happen to the show. You can only hear “No one knows me” and “most of my coworkers are terrible” so many times. However, Work has been replaced by the Struggling Writer subplot, which is as overdone as a dry chicken. And like the chicken, I can’t seem to swallow it.
With the end of college, we’ve seen our protagonist try to jumpstart his life by applying for jobs. He started applying across the country then, as the rejections piled in, began applying closer and closer to home. Now penniless he is applying for literally anything that pays more, and nothing short of winning the lottery will make the audience believe his character was redeemed in any way.
The Wiffle Ball subplot, after two seasons of unrealistic domination, pulled back a bit and made the characters seem more human. Seeing Jan get crushed by numerous teams was both humbling and worrisome, as it reminded us of our vulnerability and dull humanness. And as if Shakespeare wrote it himself, the season ended with a wedding. With the first of Jan’s friends being wed, we as an audience are reminded that we are growing up, and we can either embrace it or cower in fear of it.
If you are a casual viewer, some of the better episodes included the one where Jan and Dan drove nine hours to North Carolina to surprise their friend Amanda for her birthday as well as both trips to Philadelphia for Dan’s and Jan’s birthdays. For hijinks, the episode where Jan and The Gang saved Core Five party (this is also the same episode as the blood pact). For raw emotion, the episode where the cat, Cat (Tiffany) is found dead is sure to tug at the heartstrings. In a season of high highs and low lows, it felt rewarding to see Jan finally get his own car (tangentially, the episode where he goes to the Brand New show was the ultimate redemption.)
I think we can expect more of the same for Season 23 but I think Season 22 will eventually be seen as a setup to better things. I hope the Romantic angle is as strong as it was this past season and if the Job subplot can improve, it will be one of the best seasons yet.
RIP Cat (Tiffany)