How Better Things got too mean

Sam Fox is unlikable. Pamela Adlon’s character in Better Things — the semi-autobiographical FX show she created, writes, and directs — heckles her dates. She calls men “buddy” and smirks at them, amused by their interest. She speaks slowly to people, as if she thinks they themselves are slow. Yet her churlish disposition shouldn’t be a problem. Thanks to series like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Fleabag, I Love Dick, and Transparent, an unlikeable woman isn’t the TV taboo it used to be.

But the second season of Better Things didn’t click for me, and it’s partly because Sam’s devil-may-care attitude to public opinion doesn’t ring true. In fact, it feels like the show cares very much about aligning our sympathies with Sam — to its detriment, because there’s only so much pity one can muster for a successful woman who owns two houses, has the means to hire housekeepers, and nevertheless sees herself as a beleaguered, unappreciated underdog.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with a protagonist demanding pity from the viewer; it happens all the time. But to the extent that dramedies like this one have become a genre, they usually serve as occasions for unflattering self-examination. The protagonists tend to be …read more

Source:: The Week – Entertainment

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