Better Things S1-2
This critically acclaimed, Peabody-winning series is not your average sitcom, and Sam’s family is not made up of the average upper-middle-class Americans we usually see on TV.
Written, created by and starring Pamela Adlon, Better Things deals with certain aspects from her real life. She really is a Hollywood actor (though IRL Pamela is much better known and more successful than Sam, who is still mostly remembered as the character she played when she was a child star on TV), and she really is a single mother to three daughters.
Louis CK assisted Adlon in creating the series, and was her co-writer for the first two seasons, though he was no longer involved by Season 3.
Celia Imrie plays Sam’s British mother, who lives across the street from her, and who drops in and out of her house and her daughters’ lives whenever she pleases. Her mental and physical health are both teetering on the edge of decline, and her laissez-faire attitude to both herself and other people gets on Sam’s nerves; Sam’s eldest daughter Max seeks out rebellion wherever she can while her middle daughter Frankie seeks out opportunities for radical activism in everyday life; and her youngest daughter Duke is a sweetheart who is being short-changed by the girls’ father, who is non-existent in their lives.
Look out for Lucy Davis (Dawn from The Office UK and more recently as Etta Caddy in Wonder Woman) as Sam’s cougar friend Macy, as well as Constance Zimmer, David Duchovny and Julie Bowen as themselves.
Critics adore Better Things. Indiewire says, “It’s unlikely you’ll find a show as refreshing, nuanced and confidant, nor will you witness a talent as consistently sharp as Adlon herself”; The Atlantic: “With Better Things, [Aldon’s] crafted a show about trying to have it all in Hollywood – make money, book gigs, and raise children – that somehow feels utterly original”; and Variety said about Season 2, “It’s hard to break down why this season of Better Things is so fantastic… It’s about those quicksilver moments, and the show’s ability to create an emotional impact without ever being even slightly manipulative.”
IMDB rating: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 97%