The new Hulu series Difficult People, from Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner, jokes about what a great time it is for women in comedy. I agree that generalizations like that get real tiring real fast, especially if you happen to be an individual aspiring female comedian. However, one of the reasons that Julie is a great female character on Difficult People is that she's joining a roster of funny fictional ladies that are nothing like her. Comedy fans may already know Eichner from Billy on the Street but I think we should talk about the fictionalized version of writer Julie Klausner.
Per the title, on Difficult People Julie and Billy are annoying and self-important comedians that many strangers might find off-putting. Julie writes take-downs of celebrities on Twitter and in Real Housewives recaps, while Billy takes the waiting/acting route. However, they're not oblivious to their own insanity. They don't take themselves too seriously, and that makes all the difference in whether or not you cheer for their characters to succeed. At one point, while doing a spot-on take on how we're addicted to the validation that social media provides, guest star Rachel Dratch chimes in with an actual problem that puts everything in perspective. They're difficult but not caricatures.
Why should Julie be one of your new favorite characters? Well, first of all, she's not always nice. Sometimes she is, and to people that she's mean to mostly deserve it. Yet, unlike other women who "always speak their mind" on television, Julie is never meant to be unlikable. Nor is she likely to learn any sort of lesson and become sweeter than a Disney princess. This is so important! We celebrate male characters who aren't nice all the time.
Julie also begrudges fellow female comedians that she does not care for personally. With the unfortunate lack of women in the industry, this was actually a risky decision, however, the desire to support other women doesn't mean you aren't allowed to have opinions. Julie's character is neither catty nor blindly championing for the sake of a cause. She's just as critical of them as she would be a male comedian, which I found refreshing.
Another thing about Julie's character that sets her apart is that she's in a healthy romantic relationship. Yes, it's completely absurd that I would point this out as something special and celebratory, but I have to be honest. When I first saw Arthur, Julie's boyfriend who lives with her and works for PBS, I assumed that he was her platonic roommate. I'm that programed to seeing funny or awkward women who are unlucky in love, at least at the beginning of the story. That's not a part of Julie's life that's struggling, and she's not giving up a career for it or anything either. She's just unlucky in comedy.
As if Difficult People, which is executive produced by fellow awesome human Amy Poehler, having great female characters to sink your teeth into wasn't reason enough to watch, it's also exceptionally funny.
Image: Hulu (screengrab)