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‘The Reluctant Traveler’ Season 2 Review: A Graceful Waltz Through Europe

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As any other rebellious American teenager, of course, I watched American Pie when I shouldn’t have. Everyone and I do mean everyone my age remembers “Jim’s Dad” who was played the comedy icon Eugene Levy. The laughter didn’t stop there, as Levy made several appearances in the vastly successful franchise. Beyond that, he regained newfound fame with his son Daniel Levy in the Emmy-award-winning Canadian comedy series, Schitt’s Creek.  Now in its second season, The Reluctant Traveler is a new venture for fans and Levy himself.

With the conclusion of that series, it was time for Levy to keep himself busy (before he joins season 4 of Only Murders in the Building) and he has found quite the adventures! Producing and starring in The Reluctant Traveler, Levy has allowed Apple TV+ to embark alongside him, on a journey of self-exploration and cultural enrichment. This time, it’s a European tour starting in Sweden as he stops (by order) in Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, and finally ends in Spain. He may start as The Reluctant Traveler but where Levy ends up pensively is a beautiful moment of closure.

Why is Eugene Levy considered The Reluctant Traveler?

As a self-proclaimed homebody, I get it. A decade ago, I couldn’t stay home outside of getting a night’s rest and then back to the open road. With time passing, it became a little harder to get out and about and see more of the world. Levy has been a busy man for the last few decades; understandably, he may have never found the time to travel much. 

The first season of The Reluctant Traveler softened some of his reluctant nature and put him on the path of attempting to venture a little more. He even made a stop at one of my favorite places on Earth, a country I used to call my home, Costa Rica. Sadly, I’ve yet to make it to Europe, so I was excited to see Levy’s take on it. The opening credits are a funny little monologue reminding us of the hum-drum of travel, the frustrations of airport security, and well, crowds.

Eugene Levy’s familial history shown in the Apple TV+ series

The series isn’t simply a speed run through some of the most visited places in the European continent, there’s lots of self-reflection for Levy to learn about the cultures and his history. I’ll be honest, I never thought much about Levy before Schitt’s Creek, so I assumed he was American. I know, I know, silly American closed-minded thinking! He was just so convincing in American Pie that I just never put any thought behind it. 

So, finding his family’s path to Canada was a nice deviation from seeing his frivolous antics in Scottish pastimes. I’m no record-holding fisherman, but Levy still has a long way to go if he wants to bring food to his table the old-fashioned way. Whenever he wasn’t failing to set a cast, the exploration of his family tree invoked a little emotion in me. It was unexpected, but still pleasant to get the feeling of connecting with one’s own ancestors. 

Eugene Levy dancing in Scotland in The Reluctant Traveler
Eugene Levy in Scotland in The Reluctant Traveler (Apple TV)

Eugene Levy’s family came from Poland to Glasgow before they made their way across the pond to Canada. The Glasgow visit was wonderful as it was where his mother was born. A walk-through of the Gorbals area gave him a sense of the devastating reality of the poverty experienced by his relatives. A local showed him a physical copy of the census detailing his family and then guided him to the Garnethill Synagogue. A beautiful pause put Levy into a moment of contemplation and appreciation for learning more.

The wealth of sights, hotels, and food is breathtaking

Look at that list of countries! Something I thoroughly enjoyed in The Reluctant Traveler was that the locations weren’t shackled to the most popular tourist destinations ever. The countries may have been,  but if you want to learn about Paris, Munich, or Barcelona hundreds of shows can do that for you. 

“Germany: The Health Resort” was the most interesting episode of the series (not my favorite though) as his trip was quite unexpected in the activities. When you think of a resort the first things that come to mind are pools with a picturesque view and a cold beverage in hand. Levy pays a visit to the Lanserhof retreat where it’s a combination of a hospital clinic, hotel, and resort. I could feel his pain when the curated diet left him craving caffeine (he even left the resort to get a coffee! Ha!) and fasting had him excited about the next destination for the food (Italy).

The price tag on these places is in the thousands, per night, so I’ll opt for the cheaper route of experiencing it all through my television. At least, the dollar signs make sense when you see the intricacies of each of these locations. The seclusion, beautiful sights and world-class food served with local and fresh ingredients from neighboring farms reminded me of why I love to travel, to enjoy something different. Different is a great word to use here, as I mentioned above, we went to other locations not as popular as marquee cities. 

The guides in The Reluctant Traveler exemplified hospitality

Not many of us will visit these destinations in our lifetime, and even fewer of us will benefit from having a tour guide who is well-versed in their respective countries. Levy is accompanied by the best help money can buy, that’s if you have that much cash to spend. Emiliano took the time in Florence to show Levy how to speak like an Italian properly, with both hands. Perhaps the funniest moment was when he learned a few hand gestures and was practicing them, but then cautioned to tone it down so as not to offend accidentally. 

In Spain (my favorite episode!) he had a surprise guest, soccer player Héctor Bellerín! Anyone who knows me understands my love for the game. Bellerín is an accomplished player who is currently on defense for Real Betis, one of the two big local teams of Seville, the other being Sevilla FC.

Levy was even lucky enough to arrive in time for the big derby, which is when these two teams square off against each other. Having practiced penalties and celebrations, Bellerín even does Levy’s celebration, although the goal was disallowed, but seeing his excitement throughout the match was so relatable as a fan.

Eugene Levy and Héctor Bellerín in The Reluctant Traveler
Eugene Levy and Héctor Bellerín in The Reluctant Traveler (AppleTV)

Each country had incredible men and women who were well-humored and absolute professions in their industries. The hospitality shown in the season left a profound consideration within Levy to contemplate if he could give this a third go-round. If I may suggest, I’d love to see Levy tackle South America to push him further outside of his comfort zone.

The Reluctant Traveler is a full holiday in a short amount of time

I found myself brisking through the episodes quickly, it felt like a rather short trip with how brief each episode was. Even so, they managed to fit so many pieces of culture and history that were unknown to me. It wasn’t just learning about European history, as some insights into Levy’s life were neatly inserted whenever appropriate. 

Levy thinks back on his children and how grateful he was to work with them, although he confesses his fears of them entering show business. In my mind, I’ve considered him one of “America’s Dads” and seeing the real fatherhood in him just certified that position. Part of me wondered if his children would have made an appearance or surprised him at one of the destinations, and the way he spoke of his wife made me want to meet her.

Overall, The Reluctant Traveler was an amuse-bouche of travel documentaries that I’d recommend to anyone familiar with the actor. It isn’t boring, the camera work is incredible and makes you yearn for a flight to see the history for yourself. I’ll side with Levy on giving a pass to oysters, but I do want to see him try a little more fish next time.

The Reluctant Traveler is now streaming episodes of both seasons on Apple TV+! Have you ventured to any of these countries? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or join the conversations on The Cosmic Circus Discord server.

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Anthony Flagg

Howdy! I cover a variety of topics for The Cosmic Circus. My favorite topics to write about are video games, Pokemon and music. Drop me a line on Twitter! @redovah_

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