After hearing good things about the show for quite a while, I finally decided to give Better Things a try and was quickly impressed. The FX dramatic comedy about Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon) — a California-based actress and single mom to three girls — is the most refreshing network content I have seen in a while.
What first drew me into the series was the authenticity of it. I admit that I didn’t expect such genuine storylines prior to viewing. Better Things exposes a number of issues that most family shows are afraid to discuss such as drugs, divorce and bi-sexuality.
Continuing the authenticity, despite Sam’s (Pamela Adlon) attempts to give Max (Mikey Madison), Frankie (Hannah Alligood) and Duke (Olivia Edward) everything they want in life, it still isn’t enough. Instead of showing gratitude, they often tell her they hate her. This is something that is very realistic especially in communities like theirs growing up around the rich and the famous. Plus, Sam’s daughters certainly make their fair share of mistakes including Max dating a much older man and Frankie running away for a week making Sam feel helpless.
Thankfully, Sam is no stranger to criticism being that she has always so generously received it from her mother Phyllis (Celia Imrie) — whom she also takes care of. Phil might be a handful but she is not your typical old lady; she has the spirit of a teenager and the love of several men to keep her young. Sam and Phil are one of my favorite duo’s on tv because they perfectly emphasize their own differences.
Another thing that I love about Better Things is the range of both femininity and personality amongst the five female leads. For instance, Sam is a funny and confident straight woman but is far from feminine and Phil and Max are free spirits who still in a sense abide by traditional beauty and feminine standards. Then there is Frankie who is still at the stage where she is figuring out both her gender identity and sexuality altogether and Duke is practically still a child even if she acts much older and has already begun wearing make-up. These wildly unique characters all show us that there is more than one way to be a woman.
Lastly, I love the way the comedy is driven from the understated chaos in Sam’s life. For example, not only is Sam still being forced to pay her ex (who left her and the kids) alimony, but her kids and mother fail to appreciate all that she does for them. Instead of letting these things get to her she chooses to laugh, have fun and make the most of it.
If you have not yet watched Better Things, I recommend you get around to it sooner than later. You can catch up on Hulu before the fifth season premieres this spring.
Better Things is available to stream on Hulu.
By Blair Krassen @blairlyawake