BETTER THINGS Review: “Hair of The Dog”

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Strange things happen often on .  Whenever a person of color is introduced, it always happens.  And I’m trying to figure out what that’s about.  Let me attempt to see where Sam (Pamela Adlon) is coming from, rather try to understand the lens she uses when she views people of color because mine is very different.

So, Sam (Pamela Adlon) is very comfortable talking about everything.  Talking about sex with her daughter and even her daughter’s friend is one of those things.  She guesses correctly that her daughter’s friend bumped into a guy she “blew” and was therefore, embarrassed.  Who guesses something like that?  Actually, that’s probably a legit reason for anyone, even adults.  But who or rather, what mother openly discusses that with her daughter?  Oh yeah.  Sam.  Some would call this inappropriate.  I would call it liberating, and so does her daughter’s friend.  Sam is unequivocally the cool mom.  She doesn’t try to be.  She just prefers to be transparent, and that’s awesome.  For those who say that Sam is inappropriate, I would argue that  she isn’t.  She has couth.  She’s just deliberately open and honest about everything. So, when it comes to sex, I get it.

Now, when it comes to people of color…eh.  In an earlier episode, Lenny Kravitz was a guest star.  Lenny is multiracial.  If some people are being lazy with their words, they would identify him as Black.  He was also the first character of color on that show, so when Sam introduced him to her mother, Phyllis (Celia Imrie) recounts a story that includes the n-word.  It was meant to be both funny and inappropriate. Hmmm….

In another episode, a Black father is said to give out “generous D.”  hmmm….

In this episode, Sam hires two Latino men to help her move a table that was shared during her marriage. She hired these men off the street, and it is assumed that they are not residents or citizens of the country.  Hmmm….

sam

By the end of the episode, Sam has her family and the two men join her for dinner at the table that the men moved for her.  Hmmm….

Perspectives are so interesting so here’s mine on the macro and micro of it all.

It always seems that when a character of color is introduced in this show, they are included at an arm’s length.  There is an otherness sprinkled on them all, and it’s so obvious from my lens.  Because this is an L.A. show, Sam’s lens intrigues me even more because I’m an L.A. girl.  Her L.A. and my L.A. are very different.  To keep it to , her L.A. and Issa Rae’s L.A. are very different.  Who the heck is Issa Rae, might you ask? She is the creator and star of a new comedy on HBO called “Insecure.”  The “others” in “Insecure” are all main characters.  They have jobs.  They have relationships.  They’re funny.  You know, they’re people.  “Insecure” is much needed at a time when there are still non-characters of color living in metropolitan cities who only interact with characters of color when something needs to be serviced, whether a vagina or a piece of furniture (See: Here).

“Better Things” as a whole is a great show, but I’m human.  There’s bound to be something about any show that rubs me the wrong way.  It happened during Wednesday’s episode of FX’s other great show “Atlanta,” and now it’s happening with this one.  Before the season ends, I’d like to see some character of color with dimension.  If that doesn’t happen, then Sam needs new lenses.  Hers are really old.

TB-TV-Grade-B-
Season 1, Episode 9 (S01E09)
Better Things airs Thursday at 9PM on FX

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Jennifer spends her nights writing, her days securing insurance for shows, and her in-betweens blogging about the silliness and seriousness of life on her blog.
Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @reneseford
Keep up with all of Jennifer’s reviews here.

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1 Comment

  1. This ep was Chris Williams’ second episode, and he is a character of color who is as close and has as much depth as anyone in her circle of friends.

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