When Sam Fox says “I enjoy where I’m at,” he’s referring to the last episode of “Better Things,” which aired on Monday. “I’m overjoyed. I’m overjoyed. “I’m overjoyed.”
If you’re a fan of “Better Things,” a sitcom that aired on FX for five deliriously successful seasons, Sam’s happiness is bittersweet. We leave her in a good position, which makes it all the sweeter. We are resentful that we had to abandon her at all.
The comedy, which was created by Pamela Adlon and Louis C.K., stars Adlon as Sam, a professional actress and single mother who must navigate a vicious industry while also juggling a demanding home life. Sam’s life includes three children — Max (Mikey Madison), Frankie (Hannah Riley), and Duke (Olivia Edwards) — as well as his strict mother, Phil (Hannah Riley), who lives across the street (Celia Imrie). Adlon was the author or co-author of around half of the episodes. Since Season 2, she has been in charge of directing them all.
Adlon, who was a mid-list actress and voice-over artist at the time of the show’s inception (“King of the Hill,” “Californication”), is also the mother of three children. In addition, she is a demanding mother. According to her, “I used to tell people that FX was paying for my treatment.” “It was a fantastic experience to come into work and have all of these people pay attention to what I was saying. After that, I’d go home and no one would pay attention to me.”
Despite the fact that Louis C.K. acknowledged to sexual misconduct, the programme ended up parting ways with him after just two seasons. Adlon responded by establishing a writers’ room. Moreover, “Better Things” continued to develop, eventually maturing into a meticulously observed and profoundly felt portrayal of one woman’s overstuffed existence.
It required a lot of work to get to the final season. Imrie was unable to travel from her home in London to Los Angeles because to Covid-19 delays, and pandemic procedures prohibited her from moving from her home in London to Los Angeles. As a result, Phil’s home was reconstructed on a West London studio, and the main actors — as well as a cargo container full of costumes and furnishings — came there to film all of her scenes. (Imrie is unable to fly, and boats were not an option.)
“It was really incredible,” Adlon added. She was chatting via video conference from her production office in Southern California, only a few weeks before the season finale aired on ABC. As she made her way through the writers’ room, the sitting room, and the kitchen, stopping only to massage some cream into her elbow, she spoke — in her unbreakable voice — about how the programme had changed, how she had changed, and why everything ended with a song at the conclusion of the episode. The following are modified transcripts of the discussion.
My moon and my sun continue to set on my children and mother. They’re everything to me, and they have complete control over my life – I suppose I’m simply a codependent person. However, this is different. My production firm is now a substantial entity, and I am the proud owner of this stunning body of work. I’m now in charge; I wasn’t in charge before.
They have the impression that it is really personal. However, they are also really pleased with themselves. I attempted to start the show in a different location than where I was at the time. After a while, I recognised it wasn’t going to work. My father always said, “Write what you know,” so I don’t feel any guilt about taking over my girls’ life for my writing. In reality, I believe that I have given them, as well as their friends, a platform for expression. It’s a letter of affection to them.
“Galaxy Song” is one of my favourite songs. It was my way of answering the question, “What the hell did we just go through?” And then it’s simply a matter of saying goodbye to everyone with “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” which is basically the show’s motto: life is hilarious, and we can’t stop living because things are bad. As a result, I just thought, “This is the community.” And I’d want to hear the whole community belting out this tune.