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Better Things (season 01)

Josh Reviews Better Things Season One!

September 18th, 2017
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Why did I wait a year to watch this amazing show???  I loved Pamela Adlon’s appearances on Louie C.K.’s wonderful show Louie (in many of my reviews of Louie I have written about how I have wanted their two characters to get together on the show, because I loved their dynamic so much) and I knew from watching the credits that she was involved as a writer and a producer.  So when I read last year that she would be leading her own show, Better Things, which she co-created with Louis C.K., I was immediately interested!  But for some reason the ten episodes have sat unwatched in my DVR for the past year.  (Season two actually just began last week!!)  Finally, my wife and I decided to watch the first episode, and we immediately fell head over heels in love with this amazing show, and we devoured the ten first-season episodes in just a few days.

Pamela Adlon stars as Sam, a divorced mom working in Hollywood as an actress and raising her three kids: the sixteen-year-old Max, the twelve-year-old Frankie, and the eight (I think!)- year-old Duke.

Better Things is a phenomenal showcase for Ms. Adlon.  As I wrote above, she co-created the show with Louie C.K. and she plays the lead character.  Additionally, she wrote or co-wrote eight out of the ten episodes, and she directed two of them.  Wow!!

When I DVRed this show a year ago, my hope was that, due to Louie C.K.’s involvement, Better Things would sort of be like a sixth season of Louie.  And, indeed, Mr. C.K. was very deeply involved with the show.  He directed the pilot, and wrote or co-wrote nine of the ten episodes.  There are certainly surface similarities between Louie and Better Things.  Both shows are very funny and also unafraid to get very dramatic and very real.  Both shows strive for verisimilitude, in terms of presenting the realities of their lead characters’ everyday lives, without applying the usual TV sugar-coating.  And both shows demonstrate a similar playfulness with the narrative of their episodes, eschewing the usual half-hour TV episode structure for a shifting, often stream-of-consciousness feeling in which an episode might consist of multiple short vignettes rather than a single story that runs straight through the half-hour.

And yet, don’t be mistaken: Better Things is not just Louie by any other name.  This is an incredibly unique show that feels extraordinarily personal for Ms. Adlon, who plays a character whose life situation is very similar to Ms. Adlon’s own.  Both Sam on the show and Ms. Adlon are divorced mothers of three, who have had a long career in Hollywood filled with a lot of small parts … [continued]