Friday, March 20, 2020

What I’m Watching: Better Things (Season Premiere)

Better Things: Season 4, Episodes 1 and 2 “Steady Rain” and “She’s Fifty” (B+)

It feels like so long since this show was last on, but it’s actually been less than a year since season three ended. I’m impressed with how this show has become increasingly stylized, using a lot of music, little dialogue, and some creative choices to express how its characters are feeling and moving through life. Frankie and especially Duke seem much older, and their time away with their father has changed them both. It’s made Frankie even more troublesome than before, determined to have a quinceañera that she claims isn’t cultural appropriation and forcing her mother to invite her father even though she’s the one who cares about him being there. Max is just as unaware of how the real world works, assuring her mother that she paid for the new pet – with her mother’s credit card. Duke made her mother cry when she said exactly the right thing to make Rich feel better after his breakup, demonstrating some of the same maturity she had when they did their mock funerals. Things have evidently gotten much worse with Phyl, as emphatically summarized in flashbacks and then seen playing out when Sam kicked her out of the car in the rain following her unfiltered road rage. I was happy to recognize two notable guest stars: Jessica Barden and Lance Henriksen. I’m a huge fan of Barden, who stars in Netflix’s “The End of the F***ing World,” and I hope she’ll be back to collaborate with Sam on an acting project. Henriksen, a familiar face from “Aliens,” was at Sundance for Viggo Mortensen’s “Falling” this past year, and was a superb choice to play the man with the classic car to the rescue when Sam needed it most.

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