Monday, February 28, 2022

REVIEW: 'Better Things' - Sam Makes a Big Decision About Her Career After a Costume Fitting in 'Rip Taylor's Cell Phone'

FX's Better Things - Episode 5.02 "Rip Taylor's Cell Phone"

Sam makes a choice.

"Rip Taylor's Cell Phone" was written by Joe Hortua & Ryan Raimann and directed by Pamela Adlon

For her entire life, Sam has been identified as an actor. She started at a young age. Everyone has a different reference for what they've seen her in. She is very personable. She is always starting conversations with people wherever she goes. People come up to her as well. It's because she's famous. People want to tell her they've seen her before. Sometimes it's in projects they've loved. Sometimes it's to collect a picture with a celebrity. Sam's career has been a major focus of the series. She has worked steadily throughout. Nothing has been too substantial though. It's enough for her to provide for her family and live comfortably. It's not exactly fulfilling work. The roles offered to her have shifted over the years too. It feels like she is terribly miscast at certain times. Even when she is perfect for a role, it doesn't mean she is going to get it. The business side is very complicated. It's driven by egos. Sam doesn't always appease the people she works with. She is always a good time. The projects don't always work out. That's part of the business too. It has its ups and downs. Sam has been accustomed to it for a long time. But now, she has made a decision. She has started to pivot her career to behind-the-scenes work. She is more enthralled running around with reckless abandon in the costume storage unit than actually getting fit for the costumes she'll be wearing in a period piece. She knows what she likes. She is aware of how others will react as well. She is very nurturing and giving. So much of her time is spent caring to others. It's an extension of her identity as a mother. But it also empowers her as a director. She sees details in such a unique way. It's still antithetical to her essence to turn a job down. It's a huge decision for her to quit. In this context, it's just one job. She doesn't want to spend five weeks in a complete different country doing work that is uncomfortable. Acting is no longer fulfilling. Her agent is annoyed it has come to this. He gets her out of the project though. That can free her up for new creative opportunities. All of this is a choice. It's something she has to actively pursue. It can no longer be her accepting any job that comes her way. That was good for a long time. She has met many interesting people along the way. However, that can come from simply living in Los Angeles. This city is bustling with people who have captivating stories just waiting to be told.

Sam does a good deed when no one else is willing. She finds a missing phone and ensures it gets returned to its rightful owner. She recognizes the importance of the device. She still needs help to finish this task. She doesn't have all the answers. She is startled upon seeing how independent her family has become. They don't need her as much. As a consequence, they keep things from her. It's terrifying when they hear gunshots in the grocery store parking lot. That's how normalized gun violence has become in this country. It's a traumatic moment. One where loved ones hold each other close. No damage ultimately occurs. Everyone returns to living their normal lives. It's still a disruption. Something that dramatically alters how one feels. Sam's daughters have a sister code to share secrets with each other instead of telling Sam knowing that she will freak out. She has every right to reaction however she wants to. She has raised responsible daughters. They know how to handle themselves. Frankie helps Phil file a police report after she is the victim of a phone call scam. It's terrifying when Sam learns what's happened. She is upset that no one calmed her down right away. She spent minutes being worried when she didn't have to. She could have focused her attention elsewhere. She isn't given that freedom. Of course, she also wants to be with her daughters. She is disappointed when no one shows up to watch television with her after she spent hours in the kitchen. She is a creator. She loves making things. Her creative mind is always at work. She expresses herself in many different ways. Her daughters appreciate her. They don't always show it. They don't always tell her their plans. They sometimes leave her at the last minute. That's what occurs here. It's isolating for her. She made this big decision in her life. She doesn't get to share it with anyone. She yearns for that. Her kids have always been around to provide that role. They haven't always given her the responses she's wanted. But she could always rely on them to at least be present as the decisions were being made. This is a huge change. One that could dramatically alter so much. It also offers consistency. One that Sam feels comfortable in making despite her fears. It's exhilarating while remaining an internal dynamic. She speaks to an empty house. She yearns for connection from a TaskRabbit. She can't place that burden on him. However, she has always known how to respond to people recognizing her. And now, the experience is different. She tears up even though she wants to be happy about what she's done.