9 Hilariously Honest Life Lessons From 'Better Things'
If you're like me, some of your most valuable life lessons have come from television; it gives you enough distance to process what a bizarro sideshow life really is, while still saying something true and hilarious. In terms of shows currently on TV that do just this, FX's Better Things is full of hilarious life lessons. From how to handle your friend's miserable loser boyfriend, to tackling impostor syndrome, this show doles out all the existential truth with an endearing combination of edge and sincerity.
If you’re not familiar with the show, consider it required viewing for anyone who is a mother or has ever had a mother (i.e., all humans). Written, created by, and starring Pamela Adlon, the show follows actress, single Mom, and work-in-progress Sam Fox (played by Adlon) as she raises three daughters while attempting to remain her own person. We see her youngest, Duke, test her self-control at the mall as she cries for a pair of earrings she already possesses. We see her clumsily call out the menarche of her precocious 12-year-old Frankie at a female empowerment seminar. We see her endure the continual, textbook teenage attitude of her high school-aged daughter Max.
Between her kids, her own well-meaning yet histrionic mother, her career, and her (sorta) sex life, the world is constantly schooling Sam in ways we can empathize with. But being that she's penned by Adlon, she confronts the world with a level of badass honesty that the rest of us can only harness when we're talking to ourselves in the mirror.
Because you're never too old to learn a new lesson, we’re looking back on some of the best life lessons that Better Things has taught us thus far.
1. The Smoke Detector Is Not Your Friend
Just as we see with Sam in her own battle with the fire alarm, trying to shut off your smoke detector will precipitate a domino effect of chaos that will always end with you screaming in your foyer without pants.
2. Dud Guys Have A Way Of Ending Up With Earth-Dwelling Goddesses Because The Patriarchy
"Do you know what it's like to watch your friend, someone you love, someone who is like a goddess... using all of that power just to keep her fat, useless, boring, stoner husband barely afloat?" In true Sam Fox badass fashion, her words to BFF Sunny's complaining husband communicate everything we wish to say to the mortal deadbeats who are staggeringly unworthy of our Earth-dwelling goddess gal pals.
3. Parental Boundaries Are NOT Meant To Be Broken
As we all know, every healthy parent/child relationship is built on a firm foundation of secrets. And when Max asks Sam to get her pot (or as she puts it, "good nugz") her response perfectly shows her understanding of this fact. "Hide things from me... PLEASE!" Amen.
4. You Make Plans, Your Body Laughs
Looking forward to something? A beach trip? Going through menopause, and having the ability to partake in unprotected sex without the specter of pregnancy? Don't worry! Your body has a way of messing up your fun. Just like we see with Sam at the gynecologist, you might have the head of someone ready to stop ovulating forever, but your reproductive system can still have the heart and general function of a 16-year-old.
5. Keep Your Family Up To Date On Your Plans
When Sam gets let go from a project early — in full alien makeup, no less — she comes home a day ahead of schedule. At home, she's greeted by a Solo cup-strewn war zone coated in food, courtesy of her children. Let this be a lesson to us all: Never show up at your own home, unannounced.
6. Nobody Ever Really Figures Life Out — We All Just Put On The Clothes
"You know those people you see every day, that look like they have all their shit together and that they made all the right choices, and how impossible it seems to get to that place?" With Max feeling lost and intimidated in the wake of college decisions, Sam takes her to the "I have my sh*t together" section of her local department store and asks her this. "Well, look! Look at you. You look like one of those people. And all they did was put on the clothes."
7. Moms Never Stop Being Embarrassing... Even When They're Right
Mom humiliation is always the worst kind of humiliation, which we all re-live during the women's empowerment seminar that Sam speaks at. But even if your Mom is calling out that you've gotten your period in front of all your peers, she could still make a super incredible, empowering point. Still, I mean... Come on, Mom.
8. So You Should Be Nice To Your Mom
Even if she has a singular talent for ending up all in your business, your mom worked hard to raise you not to be a monster. So even if she can be profoundly annoying, and you often want to treat her like she doesn't exist — as Sam is tempted to with her own mom — one day you might have your own kid treating you the same way. THEN you'll get it.
9. And Don't F*ck With Her
She did push your baby self out of her own body with sheer brute force, so don't underestimate her strength (or her temper). Following a tidal wave of 'tude from Max, Frankie, and Duke, Sam sorta Hulks out, and we see this lesson at work. If you wanna be a brat in her minivan, you can WALK home, thank you very much.
Catch new episodes, Thursdays at 10 p.m. E/P.
Image: FX (9)