by: Julia Vaccarella ’20 A&E Staff
Jack Whitehall is among many stand-up comedians and actors who have had features on Netflix. The actor was featured on the Channel 4 show Fresh Meat and the streaming platform released his own special At Large last year. However, Whitehall has gained popularity in the past year for the series Travels with My Father that, alongside his father Michael, incorporates both his personal and professional life. Netflix recently released Season 2, containing five episodes.
The series deviates from the typical standup routine and follows Jack and Michael in a documentary format as they travel through different countries. Initially, Jack characterizes the trip as a “gap year” within South East Asia. The disparities between Jack and Michael’s interests quickly become apparent in the show’s first episode, when the pair arrive at a hostel in Bangkok, Thailand and Michael instead opts for a five-star luxury hotel.
The Whitehalls visit unusual, hidden sites in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam over the course of a five-week period. Much of the show’s comedic appeal comes into play with Michael’s brazen remarks about his son as well as his apprehensiveness towards doing things that go beyond his comfort zone.
Caitlin Gallagher from Bustle comments on this aspect of the show, relaying, “The father-son duo‘s jokes may often come at the expense of their tour guide, but they are funny, and they do still manage to cover a lot of ground.” However, viewers come to see that the essential reason that Michael has come on the trip is to spend time with Jack.
In this aspect, there is a reciprocal feeling of companionship among Jack and Michael. Moreover, this is the root of what encompasses the show’s most recent season. “That‘s a wrap. One month, six different countries, few arguments, many happy memories,“ Jack wrote on Instagram after filming had concluded.
Alternatively to Jack’s “gap year” from Season 1, Season 2 has the duo travelling throughout Eastern Europe on Michael’s terms, visiting historical sites like Adolf Hitler’s holiday home. Michael and Jack continue their travels, hitting Istanbul, Bavaria, and Moldova. Jack also manages to retain his image from Season 1 when he plans for him and his father to take part in a clown parade, aware of the fact that Michael has a mild fear of them.
Lea Palmieri of Decider.com speaks on the show’s second season as having an ability that allows viewers “to witness all the shenanigans for themselves,” and “to watch a genuine father-son relationship realized right in front of their eyes.” Season 2 is arguably even more profound because the relationship dynamics between the father and son pair have been clearly defined in the first set of episodes.
Jack acknowledges the importance of spending as much time as he possibly can with his father, who is 78 years old. This sentiment of family is certainly something that can be reflected across all of the individuals who watch. Seasons 1 and 2 of Travels With My Father are currently available to stream on Netflix.