Better Things doesn’t shy from uneasy situations.
In the FX comedy, which returns for Season 2 Thursday (10 ET/PT), Pamela Adlon’s Sam is raising a 16-year-old daughter who’s dating a 30-something Euro-hipster; a middle daughter who’s sent home from school after using the boys’ bathroom; and her youngest, whose truth-or-dare games are way too adult for a 9-year-old.
Sometimes, the only moment of peace and solitude for Sam, a single mother of three girls, is when she’s sitting on the toilet. As with many events on Better Things, it’s an experience everyone can relate to but that is rarely discussed in polite company.
Adlon, who’s also a single mother of three girls, and her Better Things producing and writing partner, Louis C.K., aren’t trying to be overly polite. The series co-creators embrace the unsettling as they explore difficult but real topics.
“What we found out is that when we start going down a road and exploring a story line, if it’s making either of us uncomfortable, we know we’re onto something,” she tells USA TODAY.
C.K., a top stand-up comic who won Emmys as he danced with discomfort on FX’s Louie, pays Adlon the ultimate compliment: “She’s funny. … She’s quicker than I am. She takes you by surprise,” he says.
“She’s in full control of her voice. She has a great ear, which comes from years of doing voice work. She’s a wonderful photographer. All these things make her a great director,” which is especially helpful this season, since Adlon is directing all 10 episodes.
In its first season, Better Things earned critical acclaim, including an Emmy acting nomination for Adlon, 51, for her warts-and-all look at Sam, an actress who spreads herself thin raising her daughters, jousting with her politically incorrect mother, Phil (Celia Imrie), seeking acting work and trying to maintain a bit of a personal life.
Things don’t get easier: She’s still trying to separate…