So first, let me just agree with everyone else who watched or wrote about season 2 of Joan of Arcadia--it's not as good as the first season. Not near as good. And parts of it are just plain bad.
But it's still worth watching.
That being said, a run-down on what is good and what is not.
1. Judith. People disagree about Judith, Joan's friend from Crazy Acres summer camp, who comes into the show in the 2nd episode of the season and leaves in the 9th. Some people found their relationship unconvincing, or didn't think they were invested enough in Judith's character for her stabbing death to have meaning (that would be a spoiler). I diagree. I thought Judith, played by Sprague Grayden (who has a really, really cool name, and is also apparently in Over There and Six Feet Under), was a wonderful addition to the show, and when she died I bawled my eyes out. Besides, given the show's emphasis on questioning the nature of God, senseless death of a close friend was sort of necessary, wasn't it?
2. Lily. Helen's confirmation coach, a former nun, played brilliantly by Constance Zimmer (also seen in Entourage, among other places), brings blessed sarcastic levity to a mostly really depressing season. Plus she's super cute.
3. Grace's Bat Mitzvah. First, I love Grace--she's my favorite character (especially since the anti-Adam took over, but I'll get there). I love that she got more to do this season, and I think putting her and Luke together was great, even if it is a littleweird to see Becky Wahlstrom, who was like 29 when the season was filmed, kissing Michael Welch, who was like 17).
And I love that we got to see more of Grace's family and understand her a bit better. But her Bat Mitzvah was the best. It made me all gooey inside. I love other people's religious ceremonies.
4. More Goth God. Jeffrey Licon's super-brilliant Goth God showed up a good bit in this season, and I'm 100% for that. He's my favorite God.
Now, the bad. There was a lot of bad in season. Annie Pott's insipid Lucy. The dumb lawsuit. The appearance by Haley Duff (WTF?). The very worst thing, however, was the disinegration of Adam Rove.
I love Adam Rove. Chris Marquette blew me away in the first season (and in the second as well, actually, given what he had to work with). And what the writers of JoA did to him in the second season was unforgiveable. First, he gets progressively whinier all season, always very busy, never very stoic. When did that happen? Secondly, the pressuring Joan for sex thing? What? Where did that come from? Their explanation, that he basically turned 17 and his hormones overtook his personality, was just plain stupid. The most amazingly terrible thing, though, was the decision to facilitate a break-up between Joan and Adam by having Adam have sex with Bonnie (Alexis Dziena, from Bringing Rain and Broken Flowers).
Yes. Adam cheating on Joan. Right. Personally, I find seeing God a lot more likely. It's mean, out of character, and just flat stupid. And it ruined the whole season for me. Truly. Even if they did have to break up (which I didn't think they did, but whatever), that was SO not the way to do it.
So yeah. I really wish they'd had a third season, because by the finale of this one I was ready to see where they would go with post-break-up Joan and Adam, as well as with the bizarre Ryan plot twist. But there wasn't. So I'm sad. Fear not, though. There are five seasons of Gilmore Girls I haven't seen yet.
Edited to add: Also, the absolute pain I felt in realizing that when I finished the second season finale of this show there would be no more reminded me of why I shouldn't be allowed to watch TV. I get too involved. It was My So-Called Life all over again.