My Take On…BETTER THINGS on FX
Pamela Adlon has long been a favorite of the team over here at My Take on TV (we’re talking back to the Delores Rebchuck / Kelly Affinado days). After years and years of voicing the characters we love and playing sidekick or romantic foil (a lot of the times to Louis CK), in FX’s BETTER THINGS (CK exec produces and co-writes) that premieres tonight at 10/9c, Adlon gets a chance to take center stage.
The heir apparent to the truth-telling semi-autobiographical comedy that made people enamored with CK’s LOUIE, Adlon plays Sam Fox here, though she’s put her own life on camera in beautiful and heightened way. Sam is an actor who has been in the business for years. Like Pamela, she is divorced, raising three girls (all three – Mikey Madison, Hannah Alligood and Olivia Edward – incredible scene partners for Adlon), working hard in the business (voicing animated characters and acting on camera), juggling the need to make a living, raise her kids, and deal with living across the street from her mother (a DIVINE Celia Imrie) – her father, a comedy writer, died years ago.
The first sole-female-led comedy to make it to air on FX, BETTER THINGS is a welcome breath of fresh air, a unique voice and tone that was lacking. The show explores parenthood (across multiple generations), friendship, finding love, and being a modern woman, plus all of the insanity, frustration, happiness, and insecurity that can come with it. “A female LOUIE” doesn’t do the show enough justice, though it definitely feels like the CK/Adlon collaborations we’ve seen time and again. Adlon’s voice in the writing, her incredibly expressive face (god she’s good), and her deft hand behind the camera set the show apart from other shows we’ve seen before.
The beauty of BETTER THINGS is that it feels like you’re checking in on real life vignettes, every day happenings in these characters lives. No serialized thru-line other than a mother trying to raise her kids to be their own women, each episode feels like you’re spending time checking in on the lives of a good friend. Enough cannot be said about the different and subtle way Sam has learned to interact with her three very different children. Her awareness of their needs (a child, a budding fighter for social justice of a pre-teen, and a too-mature-for-her-own-good young adult), the truth in their interactions, the way she supports them without any agenda, it’s all very reminiscent of my own interactions with my mother, from a screaming match in the hallway, to two seconds later accepting each other for who we are. There’s a very strong truth in this fiction that makes the show more than just a darkly funny comedy surprise; it’s a must watch look at life.
All of that, and don’t even GET me started on the chemistry Pamela Adlon has with a surprising and delightful Lenny Kravitz in a later episode.
BETTER THINGS premieres at 10/9c on FX, and will air Thursdays at 10 each week.