So this show. Wow. You guys know I love TV. And “Better Things” is one of the best things I have come across in a long, long time. I mean yes, of course I love “This is Us”, I am a human being with a heart. But this, it’s real and raw and sharp and acerbic and honest and really fucking funny and relatable and beautiful in a way I was not expecting. It also had me sobbing on my couch yesterday and touched me in a place that “This is Us” could never. P.S. the New York Times agrees with me, so there’s that – Review: ‘Better Things’ Returns, and Better
“Better Things” is the story of a single mom raising three daughters in LA. She happens to be Jewish. She’s an actress. Pamela Adlon and Louis C.K. created/write/direct produce and she stars. The entire cast is spectacular. Her daughters. Her mother (oh her mother – Phyl). Her friends. This show is perfection. Like in the same way “Girls” was in season 1 and every episode of the the last season, except the series finale which I still cannot understand.
I binged season 1 last week on Hulu on a tip from my best friend and it made me laugh out loud. I was instantly drawn in and started raving about it. I was not prepared for the shift in season 2 and the increased depth of every episode.
Season 2 is still in swing (Thursdays at 10 on FX). Sam is single. She dates (her monologue on a date in episode 2 of season 2 is EPIC, Better Things “Rising” preview), she gets laid, but it’s all periphery. This show is not about her love life. Her daughters are her life. No, they are her heart. But she is the antithesis of warm and fuzzy. She has sharp edges and is harsh and abrasive and independent, but she’s also just likable because you can see a little bit of yourself in her, or who you wish you could be. In episode 3 of the season, “Robin”, Sam meets a new friend. These are the descriptions of all of the episodes btw, Same has people over, Sam is forced to look at some stuff. I so love that.
Back to Robin. Sam in bed by herself having this reverie with the most perfect music playing (aptly titled “Everything is New” by Briana Mareala) and flashbacks to unexpectedly meeting a man, Robin, the night before and the conversation and connection that ensued. We only got to hear part of their conversation, moving between that and just seeing them talk and their faces, then jumping back to the expressions on her face the next morning as she relives the experience while her daughters have barged into her room and onto her bed, demanding her attention. But it’s like white noise and really she can’t pull herself out of the visceral memory and experiencing it again. This hit me hard.
I saw the hope. I saw the magic of realizing a connection is forming that is unusual for someone who does not form connections easily. I saw two divorced people with baggage, and scars. I saw the vulnerability of them both. This is unfamiliar territory for them both. Her apprehension was visible, as was her excitement. Cue the sobbing.
No one talks about love after divorce. Heartbreak after divorce. How much harder it is, to put yourself out there, open your life up, your heart, your children. And how devastating it is when it ends. Maybe it’s the expectation. You’ve already been through a divorce, healed, done the work on yourself to see how you contributed, cleaned up things on your side of the street and put yourself back out there. Maybe you think that now you’re smarter and will pick a better person because you know who you are and what you need and what didn’t work last time and this time you will get it right. And then you actually find someone that makes you feel something you have never felt before and go all in and experience a love you knew existed but didn’t know it could be for you. And then that doesn’t work out either because it’s not just about love, and life is complicated as is timing, and people are so much more damaged and broken than we want to admit, myself included. And then the wound that was so nicely healed up gets ripped back open and you’re just bleeding. No one talks about this, but it’s real and it happens and it is hard and it hurts.
Watching two people experience the beginning of that something that they know is profoundly and acutely different as it’s happening was to relive it myself. I’ve wondered if I would go back and do it again, despite the pain and disappointment of a person and a relationship not being what I had thought or wanted. The answer is yes. And I will do it again.
TV man. I love it because it moves me and it makes me feel. This show makes me feel in a way that I reserve for my two favorite shows of all time: “Mad Men” and “Felicity”. “Better Things” is TV at its best and I can’t wait to see what comes next.