Finally! We get to see more of Sam’s (Pamela Adlon) relationship with her daughters: Max (Mikey Madison), Frankie (Hannah Alligood), and Duke (Olivia Edward). Duke is the youngest and the sweetest. Frankie is a typical tween, and Max is having a mid-teen crisis.
Mother-daughter relationships are like a load of wash. Water gently softens the clothes to get them ready for the next phase (Duke): the aggressive dirt scrubbing that affects even the foundation of the machine (Frankie) until it reaches the final stage of calm cleanliness (Max). Keep in mind that all of these stages have no smooth transitions. Max is a foreshadow of Frankie. And Frankie is a foreshadow of Duke. Even when Sam seems to win a battle with her daughters, another battle is at her doorstep. Geez! How does Sam deal with all of this?
In previous episodes, Sam can’t seem to do anything right. She tries, but it always seems to end in a mediocre way despite her efforts. However, when it comes to her daughters, she excels. We’ve all been at that stage in life when we don’t know what we are doing. 16-year-old Max feels inadequate. To a group of her mom’s 40-something friends, she explains that she’s spent the last 3 years “being social” and a “loser.” Let me back up. Max feels comfortable sharing this with them all because they were just joking about one woman going in for an abortion only to find out that she wasn’t pregnant. Yeah.
So back to Max – she feels like she’s already mucked up her life. Sam’s friends assure her that they feel the same way sometimes despite being 100 years older than her. How cool is it that Max can have open dialogue with her mom and her friends? Who has this kind of relationship with their parents? I’d like to just request Sam as my mom in my next life. Thanks.
It’s clear that Sam didn’t have this kind of relationship with her mom Phyllis (Celia Imrie). Yes, Phyllis cusses, which is cool, I guess, but she’s quite judgmental. If anyone is looking for an English mother stereotype Phyllis fits the bill. When Sam visits her mother to check whether she has a will, she looks tired from just conversing with her. Granted, Phyllis is a pill, and I know Sam loves her but she is at the end of her rope as Phyllis’ daughter. She just wants to be done. With love, of course.
And let’s not forget about the girls’ names. Sam is a celebrity. And usually celebrities, because they are very creative people, think of creative (synonym: silly) names for their babies like fruits, vegetables, or Behr paint colors. Sam chose to give her girls traditional boy names. I absolutely love this about her. She herself has a “boy” name, so it’s only fitting that she pass that coolness on to her daughters (unless she just really really really wanted boys).
“Life is good,” says Sam (Pamela Adlon). And it is in Thursday’s episode of BETTER THINGS.
Season 1, Episode 5 (S01E05)
Better Things airs Thursday at 10PM on Fox
Jennifer spends her nights writing, her days securing insurance for TV shows, and her in-betweens blogging about the silliness and seriousness of life on her blog.
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Jennifer Ford | Contributor