Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Pilot Review: Better Things

Better Things (FX)
Premiered September 8 at 10pm

I like Pamela Adlon a lot, and I thoroughly enjoyed her series-long performance as the very dramatic Marcy on “Californication.” I know that she scored her first acting Emmy nod for guest-starring on “Louie,” and therefore it’s no surprise that her full-time return to FX is in a show that she co-created with none other than Louis C.K. The show feels a lot like “Louie” in that it is funny but most of that humor is rooted in the unfortunate nature of nearly every development in its central character’s life. Adlon’s Sam is a woman pulled in many directions, namely by her three children, two of whom have impossible personalities that aren’t even the same and cause her infinite stress as she tries to deal with them. The one who isn’t nearly as malicious still pressures her to lie down in bed next to her fully aware that she’ll probably fall asleep and get off track on her carefully-constructed schedule that never plays out according to plan. There’s plenty of content here that veers towards the vulgar, namely Sam trying to find the right kind of porn to watch before her daughters burst into her bedroom. Her daughter asking her to buy pot for her so that she can smoke the good organic stuff was an equally entertaining and horrifying development also. It was amusing to see Constance Zimmer as an actress who auditions for the same role as her since they’re so similar, even to the point that they both played the same role in “Love Bites,” originated by Adlon and then taken over by Zimmer. I’m not sure this is a show I’m going to love and stick with, but I’ll give it another shot for now.

How will it work as a series? Sam is a much more present parent than Louie is on his show, and that means that most of her problems are going to come from her daughters having their own personalities rather than the rest of the world being out to get her. Adlon has the right temperament for this role and I think that structuring the show around her as an actress will be a positive and productive thing.
How long will it last? The show’s reviews have been pretty good thus far, and I expect that FX, especially because they’re doubting the future of “Louie,” will opt to renew this one and keep it going as long as Adlon and C.K. want to keep writing episodes since it very much represents the brand that they’re trying to create and establish.

Pilot grade: B

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