Better Things returns and Sam’s house is in a bit of disarray. Though, as I’m sure Sam would say, “What else is new?”
Remember that sweet, seemingly naïve and innocent child from the first season? Well, now she is playing truth or dare and daring girls her age to stick monopoly pieces where the sun don’t shine. That and having girls yell PENIS as her mom has a get together downstairs.
They grow up so fast, right?
Frankie: Frankie, Jason, Sam
Frankie remains the sometimes abrasive, other times loving daughter of Sam. In this episode though, she is just that kid who you never know what to expect. Such as her singing while Jason (Jeremy K. Williams), Harry Belafonte’s apparent grandson, plays the piano. Leading, of course, to Phyllis saying something inappropriate, but only because she thought Jason was a stereotypical person of color from a bad neighborhood.
Alas, Jason is not only a talented pianist, one which can play bluesy tunes and classical, but also is a sweet kid. To the point, Sam accepts him as her Black son. As for what Jason’s relationship with Frankie is though? Who knows?
Max: Max, Arturo, Sam
Since the end of the first season, apparently, Max put on a play and found herself attracting the affections of 35-year-old Arturo (Arturo del Puerto). Mind you, Max is 16. However, because Sam isn’t in the mood for a long war with Max, she just lets it go. That is, until Max reveals she is way in over her head.
After all, while Max is talented, arguably her maturity, or perhaps better said: worldliness, is nowhere near Arturo. So when they go to parties which have 40-year-olds, it is awkward and she can’t hang. So, despite Sam originally seeming like she may force Max to do the grown up thing and have her break up with Arturo, she handles it. Leaving Arturo shocked but weirdly prepared. As if Sam trying to stand in the way of him messing around with a 16-year-old is nothing to him. He has been in this position before. Thus upping the creep factor 10 fold.
But, in the end, being that Max is 16 years old and Arturo is 35, and Sam has no issue calling the cops, guess who wins?
I truly love how effortlessly offensive Phyllis is. Much less her knack for creating awkward moments. Like when she decides to recount Sunny and Jeff’s relationship. They’re divorced, she brought her new beau Mark to Sam’s party, and Phyllis decides to run through Jeff being married to Sam, them having kids, and making sure it is noted he has no one while she has moved on. It was a sad moment yet, at the same time, as I write this I find myself smiling and giggling as I reminisce.
Sam’s Interaction with Max and Jason
In many ways, Sam is but a more refined version of Phyllis. She isn’t that politically correct but does have some sort of working filter. Hence why she knows where the line is with Jason, like calling him her Black son, but doesn’t decide to seem kind of racist when it comes to dealing with Arturo, or his equally weird brother Pedro (Erich Wildpret), who hits on Sam.
But what I always will love about Sam is her interactions with her girls. Adlon presents an interesting parenting style and relationship to the girls that keeps you on your toes a bit. Like with this Max and Arturo situation. The idea that she is allowing her 16-year-old to be with this 35-year-old just to keep her in the house is a strange concept. Yet, there is this vibe she is only allowing it to teach Max a lesson.
In a sort of Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith parenting style, it is like she is letting Max do as she pleases because she wants her to have autonomy. Now, Sam will side eye, give snide comments, and certainly make it known she doesn’t advise the situation, but it seems she is willing to let Max make grown up decisions and live with them. Something sort of strange to watch, considering how most shows like this handle children and minors, especially ones so integral to the show, but it is refreshing isn’t it?
What The Hell Happened With Duke?
It isn’t made clear how much time has passed since the end of season 1 but this change in Duke though! From going from this sort of innocent and naïve kid to daring a girl to stick monopoly pieces up her vagina? I mean, I get Sam is her mom and Frankie her sister, much less whatever influence Phyllis may have, but damn!