the hustler season 2 kara o'brien

Spoilers ahead for the June 24 episode of ABC's The Hustler.

The Hustler has returned for its second season, and the ABC game show still stands out from the competition thanks to its premise of a Hustler being planted in the midst of four unknowing contestants. Still, I wasn't the biggest fan during its original run in early 2021 despite generally enjoying Craig Ferguson (who celebrated an important milestone this year) as a host, but the latest episode of Season 2 has officially made The Hustler my favorite game show at this point in the summer thanks to the final reveal.

The summer TV season is always packed with unscripted fare, and ABC in fact is the home of a lot of it, game show and otherwise. In the June 24 episode of The Hustler, the group of contestants initially seemed to be the kind of assortment to make their debates about the questions interesting but not especially unforgettable, and I didn't have a particular guess about who the Hustler was early on. What made this episode stand out and rank above the summer competition for me was that I quickly landed on the person who I wanted to be the Hustler: Kara O'Brien.

Kara O'Brien initially didn't really stand out from the pack, which also included Ethan Cushing, Lloyd Sams, Danielle Benson, and Anthony Marks. She seemingly had a tendency to go along with the group's consensus, and didn't speak her mind with the most force or show much confidence in her own thoughts. In fact, she was so unassuming that one of her fellow contestants joked that if she was the Hustler, she had to be a sociopath to be pulling it off.

And with that comment, I immediately began to root for Kara O'Brien as the Hustler, because it was absolutely true. If she was the Hustler, then she was incredibly skilled at coming across as the least likely suspect. Even when it came down to the final three, with Kara up against Ethan Cushing and Anthony Marks, the two men didn't seem to consider for even a moment that she was the Hustler, assuming that it was the other rather than her.

When Kara O'Brien stood up to shock them with the fact that it was her all along and she had won the $30,000 for pulling off the con, they couldn't even be all that mad about. Her reveal that she's not even married and was instead wearing a $12 ring she bought herself from Amazon to complete her ruse was just icing on the cake. Brava, Kara!

She earned her victory, and it was so satisfying that I kind of wanted to watch it all over again. And it made me realize that part of why The Hustler can be so much fun is the freedom to play along with the contestants in trying to suss out the person pulling one over on all the others, even if viewers from home won't be getting $30,000 for getting all the guesses correct.

The Hustler is also a game show that tells a narrative as well as pits contestants against each other to try and win the top prize. I certainly didn't get the answers to all the questions correct – although I did somehow know that a group of unicorns is called a "blessing" without hitting up Google – but I was very happy to be right about Kara O'Brien. And it makes me very happy that The Hustler Season 2 is only just beginning.

New episodes of The Hustler Season 2 air on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, following the latest season of mini golf competition series Holey Moley. There are plenty of other game shows on the airwaves this summer as well as other scripted and reality options, so be sure to check out our 2021 summer TV premiere schedule!

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