Sean Kanan and Co. Top Themselves in Season 2 of Studio City - Review

Sean Kanan and Co. Top Themselves in Season 2 of Studio City - Review

By Angela Ryan-Duncan

Season 1 of Studio City was nominated for 16 Daytime Emmys, winning 3, including Outstanding Limited Drama Series. The show’s writer, executive producer and star, Sean Kanan calls it “the little engine that could” and we think that is an understatement, especially after seeing season 2 which recently dropped on Amazon Prime.




Kanan has assembled an all-star cast to give us a glimpse of the future of soap operas and based on that glimpse, that future is bright. Sean and his amazing cast and crew have found a way to pack more drama and entertainment into episodes averaging just 16 minutes than most soaps pack into an entire week. Their streamlined approach leaves you wanting more without making you feel like you’re missing out on anything, and they have completely eliminated one of the biggest complaints that soap fans have had for generations, continuous repetition of dialogue. Their formula may be just what this dying genre needs to get it off of life support and back to its glory days.




In the first season we were introduced to Sam Stevens, an aging soap heartthrob who leads Hearts on Fire, America’s number 2 daytime drama as Dr. Pierce Hartley and his cast mates including Christina, (Erin Michele Soto) who plays his onscreen love interest Anastasia; Nick Cassidy (Philip Bruenn) who plays Dr. Devyn Stryker, Sam’s rival both on and offscreen; Max Carter (Scott Turner Schofield) a transgender man who plays Dr. Brantly and runs a transgender support group; and Isabella (Melissa Riso) who is Sam’s real life fiancĂ© and Hearts On Fire’s newest cast member, Mia.




Hearts on Fire is led by producer Gloria Winton (Carolyn Hennesy) who butts heads with Sam over his new contract and storylines on the show while running roughshod over her cast and crew and especially, her assistant Jacob (Justin Torkildsen).




We met Sam’s family including his domineering mother Violet (Patrick Darbo), his ailing stepfather Doc (Tristan Rogers), half-sister Laurie (Sarah Joy Brown) and possible daughter, Delilah (Juliet Vega).




As the season progressed, we were also introduced to Sam’s friend and agent Bryan Michaels (Michael James Lazar), casting director Jolene Hernandez (Anna Marie Horsford), pr person Becky Pope (Lilly Melgar), Movie star Shelby Brock (Natalie Burn) and Ronn Moss and Devin DeVasguez playing themselves in a hysterical guest spot!




The amazing season 1 brought us all these wonderful characters and immersed us in their lives, giving us a real feel for them all. We followed Sam’s fight for his future on Hearts on Fire as well as finally getting his big break into movies, his entire family dealing with Doc’s illness and desire to stop treatment, and his own conflict over what his mother revealed to him about his own paternity and the possibility that he may have fathered Delilah. We saw Max’s fears for his transgender support group and if he was the right leader for them after tragedy struck and Christina’s fight to not just be a supporting actress to leading men but to also lead her own stories on the show. All of this and more was in the 11-episode first season which is available on Amazon Prime.




As amazing as season 1 was, season 2 is even better. We didn’t think it was possible but the little engine that could did it again. Much of the original cast returned and a few new cast members were added, including Will Roberts who is perfection as sleazy studio exec Denise and James Lott Jr. who plays the mirror image of his real-life podcasting self in a way you have never seen him before.




Sam Stevens finds himself fighting ageism in his industry as he makes his dream jump to action films while also dealing with his ailing stepfather Doc wanting to refuse treatment for his cancer as well as scheduling conflicts, a new PR shadow that dislikes him and the still unanswered question of Delilah’s paternity. Sean Kanan proves how underrated he is, once again, with his incredibly layered performance throughout the entire season. He has taken his decades of experience in daytime and turned it into something really special. His chemistry with spitfire Lilly Melgar is off the charts and it will be a true crime if these two are not explored in future seasons. Their back and forth is as entertaining as it is realistic, a combination not often found in the soap opera genre.




Gloria Winton is fighting both the studio and her power-hungry nephew while doing everything she can to keeps Hearts on Fire on the air and under her control. Carolyn Hennesy is sublime in every scene she graces and her character’s passion for the genre is infectious. It was thrilling to see Justin Torkildsen’s character more flushed out and going toe to toe with his domineering aunt as he tries to carve out his place in their world.




The added subplot of sexism and harassment in the movie industry is timely and superbly written and acted. Natalie Burn shows amazing vulnerability as her character struggles to keep her career afloat while maintaining some dignity and Will Roberts embodies everything you imagine a sexual predator in Hollywood to be in an amazing show of acting prowess.




Erin Michele Soto and Philip Bruenn continue to delight in their roles as they spar with one another and others on set to secure their spot in the limelight. Juliet Vega’s Delilah is a unique gem in the mountain of them this show has. Her quiet desperation to be a part of her presumed father’s life is both heartbreaking and riveting to watch. Despite Sam’s reticence, the audience is rooting for her to turn out to be his daughter and we are on the edge of our seats for that reveal to finally happen.




After over 40 years in daytime, Tristan Rogers won his first Daytime Emmy for season 1 of Studio City. The performance he turned in deserved every accolade he could possibly be handed and as impossible as it seems, he has surpassed that performance with his work in season 2. This man should be on our screens so much more than he is on General Hospital. The fact that he isn’t is the soap opera equivalent of malpractice.




All in all, the cast and crew of Studio City continues to amaze and entertain in ways we have never seen before but hope to see so much more of. All of the awards they received were more than earned and they deserve even more recognition this time out. They have been moved to the Primetime Emmys and we feel that not only can they compete at that level but have more than what it takes to win. Anyone who hasn’t already checked out Studio City shouldn’t wait another moment to do so. It is entertainment worth seeing and you will not regret it. We give season 2 an A+ and send it to the head of its class.  




“Created by producer, actor, and author Sean Kanan and Jason Antognoli, season two of STUDIO CITY is directed by Timothy Woodward, Jr. and written by the husband and wife producing and writing team, Michele and Sean Kanan along with Timothy Woodward, Jr.  Sean Kanan, Michele Kanan, and Timothy Woodward, Jr. serve as Executive Producers. Season two consists of six episodes” and is available on Amazon Prime.




Look for our series of interviews with members of this amazing cast coming soon!



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Soap Opera News: Sean Kanan and Co. Top Themselves in Season 2 of Studio City - Review
Sean Kanan and Co. Top Themselves in Season 2 of Studio City - Review
Sean Kanan and Co. Top Themselves in Season 2 of Studio City - Review
Soap Opera News
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