Better Things (airing at 10pm Thursdays on FX) is at the halfway point of Season 1. While shuffling hard to ditch its Louie ties, the show has found something new to say. Playing off a relaxed tone, Better Things does its best to dodge sentimentality. This could’ve easily been a weepy episode about an old daughter realizing that her youth is slipping away to adulthood. But, Adlon chooses to evade that route.
Future Fever opens on Sam trying to make sense of the world around her. Her kids don’t listen to her, she doesn’t listen to her kids. Phil is going crazy about pin numbers. Plus, Sam has to deal with a creepy guy hitting on her daughter at a restaurant. Everything builds to oldest daughter Max having a sudden epiphany. In two years, she’ll be 18 and an adult. The sudden realization of an encroaching future has floored this young lady. Sam wants to be a caring mom, so she surrounds Max with her circle of friends.
Pamela Adlon continues to define herself outside of the Louis CK influence. CK’s friends wouldn’t work talking to his girls. But, this circle of female friends can celebrate the futility of existence with young Max. The point still doesn’t sink in, so Sam takes Max shopping. As the mother and daughter bond over fashion, Sam uses the chance to make a point to Max. No matter what you look like, everybody is screwing up. Everyone fakes it, but only special can admit they’re scared and failing.
Future Fever Reaction?
Finally, the audience gets an episode that allows viewers to breathe. Future Fever is a slow moving episode that makes Sam and the audience focus on what’s happening now. There’s no push to get Sam with a man or new job. The daughters and grandmother aren’t being that whiny. Everyone is just in relax mode, as bigger issues start to creep into focus. When a viewer looks at Phil, then Sam and finally Max; a pattern emerges. Each future woman of this lineage will keep failing to match the future they want. What do Frankie and Duke feel about this? Sadly, the episode cuts them down to blips. Maybe we’ll get more little kid time in the second half of Season 1.