United States of Al, Season 2 Episode 13 Review - Hunter

Lots happening in this episode! Feeling guilty about missing Hazel's first bike ride, Riley decides to take her hunting for a good father/daughter bonding experience.  Unfortunately Hazel is horrified at the idea of killing the cute forest animals so the two have a more memorable experience when Riley teaches Hazel how to drive!

Meanwhile, Al, determined to impress Ariana at an Afghan refugee fund-raiser spin cycle-a-thon, gets down right petulant when he competes against the hunky spin class instructor.

And with the house to themselves, Art and Lois enjoy privacy at home and then out in the city as vigilante anti-graffitists.

With USofAL's audience numbers steadily climbing, the show must be doing something right. But this is an example of the uneven writing that keeps the show from being heads above any other must-see TV. 

It's funny and touching to see Riley interact with his daughter, especially when he realizes how much he's missed in his daughter's life - Parker Young and Farrah Mackenzie have great chemistry.

But the show's biggest challenge is how to develop Al as a multi-dimensional comic character. Is he the stranger in a strange land? Are we laughing at his conservative values? It certainly comes across that way with Al's immature bravado competing with the spin instructor. Ariana is too Westernized for Al and she's already condemned him for being an interpreter, but the show insists that they could be a couple even though Ariana shows no interest in Al. Combined with the show's unique situation of being the only show about an Afghan refugee, and you can almost feel the tug of war in the writers' room as they steer Al from serious issues to a memorable funny character that will keep a growing audience coming back every week.


Harrison Cheung is the author of the award-winning biography of Christian Bale (BenBella Books) and a contributor to Brave New Hollywood and The TV Ratings Guide.

@harrisonic (Twitter)

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