Thursday, March 14, 2019

REVIEW: 'Better Things' - Sam Makes Dinner for Old and New Friends While Meeting a Monkey in 'Nesting'

FX's Better Things - Episode 3.03 "Nesting"

Sam sees old friends and cooks for everyone.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of FX's Better Things.

"Nesting" was written by Joe Hortua & Sarah Gubbins and directed by Pamela Adlon

It brings so much joy watching this show just spend time with its characters as they simply have a nice day together. This episode is nothing more than a solid hangout story where a bunch of characters simply spend their time at Sam's house. There is no overall story that really hits some big dramatic plot beats. Sure, there are moments where it's clear the show continues to set up some things that continue to percolate. Sam and Marion get into an argument about whether Phil should still be as independent as she is. The audience is fully aware that Sam knows things can't continue the same way that they have been. Phil did ruin her car earlier this season. However, Sam also sees her mother's failing health as more personal responsibility for her. She doesn't want that because she is already juggling too much. Marion has these completely valid concerns about his mother's health. But he's also not moving to Los Angeles in order to ensure that the transition goes smoothly for her. He points out the problem and allows Sam to deal with the consequences. The siblings obviously love each other. However, this is the one thing that causes tension between them. Sam lives just across the street from Phil. It's so annoying to her. And yet, she hasn't seen things as having gotten so bad that she needs to take action. She just doesn't want to drive her around and have to deal with her anymore. Sure, that may be her completely living in denial. That won't be healthy in the long run. But it's also the closest this episode gets to examining the overall lives of these characters and their concerns for the future. Elsewhere, Tressa is concerned that Sam is getting too close to a woman on set who is known to be a flipper. It's hilarious to watch Sam repeatedly say that she is straight. Of course, she shouldn't have to say that so many times unless she was tempted. She is still texting with this woman after all. That too is a bit of a surprise. It's something she is choosing to keep secretive. It may complicate her career in some ways because Tressa is her manager who doesn't think it's a good idea. However, she is also surrounded by Frankie and Rich who think it's more than natural to be a little sexually curious. It's a story that highlights how people of one generation are rigid in these beliefs on sexuality while the younger generation is much more fluid and open. It's not a big deal to Frankie and her friends whatsoever. They would just rather go play with the monkey. And yes, there is a monkey that randomly pops up here. That is so delightful and odd. It ensures that this is a dinner that will be remembered. Sure, Max is envious of the fun her family is having now that she's gone. It's also great that Sam ends the call before Max can say she may not finish her first semester. That's not any drama that Sam needs right now. It may also be alienating in the long run because the two only have these brief conversations that can end whenever Sam gets too uncomfortable. But this hour also highlights the lengths that parents will go to in order to be supportive of their children. Phil may still adhere to strict rules about gender and expectations from society. Married people stay together and have affairs instead of getting a divorce. Meanwhile, Sunny and Jeff are no longer together but are trading off living in the house so that their child doesn't have to move and split time between them. That's a move that has been modernized very quickly. Plus, it seems like Jeff is happy with the new developments in his life. He is dating a woman played by Sharon Stone after all. Of course, Sunny seems a little depressed. But that too may be explained by her eating habits and her confusion over what's actually happening at Sam's house. She and her boyfriend walk in on something completely random but are also welcomed and included. That too is a sweet message.