Wednesday, November 22, 2017

TV Show Review: Better Things (Season 2)

Pamela Adlon's artsy family comedy returns for a second season of goofy antics and mother-daughter relationships. Sam Fox (Adlon) works to keep her daughters in line. Max (Mikey Madison) is dating a much older man but confesses to Sam that she doesn't want to date the man anymore. While she cares for her daughters including Frankie (Hannah Alligood) and Duke (Olivia Edward), she also tries to have a romantic life. She meets several guys but none of them really pan out for various reasons. One guy becomes too needy while friends try to set her up but she avoids going on dates. She does meet a nice guy who is a bit controlling but she gives him a chance. The relationship is never given an ending but it comes back around in later episodes.

Sam must also deal with her eccentric mother Phyllis (Celia Imrie) who lives down the street. She has a way of speaking her mind and finding out what is wrong with Sam. Phyllis is declining in health and Sam isn't sure what she should do about it. She isn't sure she can handle her declining mother on top of all the other things she has in her life. She reaches out to her brother Marion (Kevin Pollak) but he isn't much help. Sam does move forward in her relationship with Robin (Henry Thomas) by allowing him to meet with the kids but even though the dinner goes well, it doesn't work out. In Frankie's only major episode, she argues a lot with Sam and the two of them perform increasingly more outrageous pranks on one another. 

Each episode has a strange theme and often deals with her relationship with her kids. Sam puts on a fake funeral so she can hear how her kids think about her but Duke is also part of the funeral and cries when no one mentions her in their eulogizing. In another episode, she goes to the store with her friend's ex-husband Jeff (Greg Cromer) but she awkwardly runs into Robin. Jeff tries to come on to Sam but she soundly rejects him and even then he still proposes that they have sex. Sam's husband's father Arnold Hall (Rade Serbedzija) wants to see his grandchildren but Sam can't make the time work since they already had plans. Arnold also asks same to keep taking care of her ex-husband financially since he has proven to not handle money well.

Sam learns more about her extended family on a trip up to Canada as her family kept secret an aunt who was put way in a mental institute while Duke sees ghost around the cabin. In the finale, Max is graduating from high school. She throws a huge party that Sam has to stay out of. Max plans to see their father Xander (Matthew Glave) but he blows them off at the last minute. Sam has plenty of friends who step in to help take Max to her graduation. The finale ends with Sam, Duke, Frankie, and Phyllis all performing a dance for Max as her final graduation present.

Better Things is a cute show with some strange episodes and no real connecting storyline. The characters are great, Olive Edward as Duke is a highlight. Pamela Adlon delivers plenty of humor through the odd episodes making each one worthwhile. FX has a solid quirky comedy on hand and hopefully it will avoid the controversy of its co-creator Louis CK who was recently outed as a sexual harasser. It has been renewed for a third season so I look forward to seeing where it goes under the direction of Adlon. 

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