Apple TV+ comedy Acapulco, about an old millionaire reminiscing about his early life as a wage slave at a popular resort in the ’80s, takes two trips down memory lane this week. Diane relives her glory days before Las Colinas, while Maximo remembers a moral dilemma that cost him and rewarded him in equal measure.
There’s a party at the resort, and all the ghosts of Diane’s past are invited in an unfortunately middling episode.
Acapulco recap: ‘Hollywood Nights’
Season 2, episode 6: In the episode, entitled “Hollywood Nights,” Maximo (played by Eugenio Derbez) starts off by telling his nephew Hugo (Raphael Alejandro) and his bodyguard Joe (Will Sasso) about the way his boss, Diane (Jessica Collins), got her break. She arrived from Indiana looking to get into the business, but the first casting agent she saw threw her out. She came back a week later with attitude, looking like a star, and acting like she didn’t need the job — and it was hers. What does that have to do with Las Colinas? Well …
A producer friend of hers is hosting a wrap party at the resort, and she needs to rub her success and her happiness in their face. She left Hollywood under a dark cloud, caused by the birth of her son Chad (Chord Overstreet). Now it’s time to get a little laid-back revenge.
Maximo (Enrique Arrizon) is her assistant at the party, so he keeps hearing all the gossip about the celebs in attendance. That’s handy, because he’s being blackmailed by a local tabloid journalist named Fabián (Bayardo De Murguia). Maximo fed Fabián information a few weeks back for cash. Now he’s on the hook forever or Fabián will tell Diane that Maximo is a spy, which will surely get him fired.
Maximo’s picked a bad time, as usual, to have split allegiances. That old producer friend of hers (David Paymer) wants her to come back to Hollywood. Would be a shame if Maximo told everyone about the until-now secret father of Chad, wouldn’t it?
Maximo consults Don Pablo (Damián Alcázar) for help with his moral dilemma. But because Don Pablo is so bent out of shape about his treatment by Diane, he can’t be of much help. Maximo finally lands some other hot gossip, so he doesn’t have to sell out Diane yet. But Fabián lets him know he’s not off the hook by a long shot. As he’s worrying and celebrating at the same time, Don Pablo comes in and hands Diane his letter of resignation. It’s time to live for himself.
Elsewhere, Memo (Fernando Carsa) is in charge of the canine star of the movie, much to his chagrin. He was hoping to get into the VIP section of the party and mingle with movie stars. Of course, while walking the dog, he accidentally walks to the red carpet and gets his photo taken by the paparazzi. Then he is led to the VIP section.
Back to sitcom basics
This episode wasn’t exactly a letdown as much as it was a gentle deflation. Acapulco had been gaining a head of steam both as a comedy and as a show with more on its mind than jokes. Sure, the transition was awkward, and Acapulco can’t always shoulder the heavier issues it wants to. But this week’s episode is both a reminder of why it can’t — and why it should try anyway.
This week, except for a quick, Family Guy–style flash of the plot involving Maximo’s family (remember that? The horrific saga of a woman disowning her gay daughter?), Acapulco was all just sitcom schtick.
The idea of Diane being promised a part and having to camp it up to seem good for the role? Awful. Dreadful. A premise older than any of the actors on this show. There were a few of those this week, which is just too damned many. Memo being seated in the VIP lounge because of a dog? Give me a break.
A sad, but not surprising, lack of ambition
It’s not even that the execution of all of these bits is so airless and limp. (The weirdest thing about some Apple TV+ comedies is that the pacing and deliveries frequently leave one with the impression that the people actually directing and editing them would rather be anywhere else, and hey, you know what? Maybe they would. I would simply ask they give the jobs to people who might want to be there so that I too don’t have to wish I’d be anywhere else). It’s the idea that this show needs them at all, with all the other stuff going on in the foreground.
We didn’t really need a Diane episode — she’s one of the least-interesting characters on the show. But I’m not mad about it, because the flashback to her early days in Hollywood (where she’s played by Peyton Woolf and her agent is Wendie Malick) prove way more energetic and tightly paced than the rest of the episode. Malick’s always good value on screen, what with her waspy bitchiness and her ability to project bitter, second-hand elegance. Unfortunately, the show keeps cutting to “there’s a famous dog on the red carpet” instead of just spending time with her. Cruel and revealing.
Acapulco clearly isn’t prepared to abandon its wafer-thin reasons for existence to tackle anything with more weight, which is why the show absolutely should be trying. Ambition is always better than the status quo, especially when the status quo delivers zero laughs.
Watch Acapulco on Apple TV+
New episodes of Acapulco season two drop each Friday.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.