It’s Sam’s 50th birthday, and while Phil fails to give Sam what she wants, Frankie makes an effort and really, that is all Sam is asking for.
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Have You Seen My Kid?: Frankie/Frances, Sam
It has been 8 days since Frankie, also known as Frances (to Duke anyway) has paused sharing her location and has been sleeping over friends houses, if not on the streets. Why? Well, it’s complicated. Every now and then there appears to be a flare up. Which, due to there being so much between Frankie and Sam that neither know where to begin, it leaves them in this state of contentiousness. Especially since Frankie doesn’t subscribe to the idea of just letting things go and no matter how many times she confronts Sam publicly or privately, it doesn’t seem she is ready for that talk.
So, in an almost comical way, just as Sam is one persona with everyone, but Frankie, she does the same. Maybe to spite Sam or push the idea Sam is the problem. It is really hard to say.
I Just Need Some Me & You Time: Rich, Sam, Max, David
Somethings don’t really change. Be it Max shamelessly having a guy in her bed or Sam maybe allowing it out of fear that, like Frankie, Max will run off and distance herself from her. But, it is a fear which is clearly unhealthy and is eating away at Sam. For being lonely, desperate even, is giving her a lot of bark. Take her lunch with Rich, for example. Her being unable to get some one on one time, since his twink of a boyfriend shows up, infuriates her. Just like when she was with her girlfriends and their husbands came around.
Really making it seem, while Sam has David, she recognizes that isn’t a real relationship. He is a placeholder, a human vibrator – if they have sex, and doesn’t add up to the kind of person she wants. Especially compared to all the friends she misses. Heck, it would also explain her missing her ex. Hitting the big 5-0 is really screwing with her as well as the idea of dying alone.
Don’t Forget, Frances/Frankie Loves You: Sam, Frankie/Frances, Phil, Rich, Duke, Max
Sam’s 50th birthday isn’t something she is necessarily keen on celebrating. She enjoys the acknowledgments from friends, family, and her children, but she doesn’t want a party. All she wants is her mom to say, never mind remember, it is her birthday. She wants Rich, despite him being mad, to still show her for her kids, for her, and not forget her just because he has some boy toy. With Duke, she just wants her to stay sweet and Max? Well, her too.
With Frankie though, or Frances, who decides to come home after a recital, the love is there, but it’s one which seemingly works best at a distance. It’s hard to put into words, since their relationship is filled with words unsaid, but that in itself, as noted, is probably the problem. Though for a moment, with Frankie contacting Duke and using the name Frances, and brother, it does make you wonder if Frances is the issue here.
What I mean by that is, maybe Sam pushing the idea she has three daughters, only referring to Frances as Frankie, is the issue? But, with them signing their card to Sam as Frankie, that kills that. So one can only assume, taking note of the lyrics from “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine, that might be the closest we’ll get to understanding Frankie’s relationship with Sam. For maybe, like the poem in “It’s Lit,” we’re seeing Frankie perform that for a reason. Since, maybe in Frances’ (I’ll be going back and forth throughout) mind, the only way Sam knows how to open up and be vulnerable is creative expression. So how else but when on stage, the focus, will Frankie be able to speak to their mom and maybe break through to them? Find a way to express themselves in a way which is vulnerable yet doesn’t leave them feeling weak?
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- With it not really being a thing since season 1, what does Frankie/Frances identify as or are they still in conflict with the idea of their identity? Or could it be, since Xander isn’t around, Rich is barely around, and their uncle either, Frances represents Frankie’s persona when she is speaking as the man of the house?
- Did Sam push away, or freak out, so many of her friends over the course of the season that only Rich and her kids wanted to wish her a happy birthday?
- Is Max in an actual relationship or she just sleeps with Oliver from time to time? Also, does Sam not care anymore just so that she is able to keep a watch on Max?
Your Brother, Frances
I do not know how to interpret Frances, but that’s part of the appeal Frances, or Frankie, brings. Duke may have a vulgar side to her, but most of the time she is this sweet 11 year old. Max may seem like her emotions peak out of nowhere, but you know that comes from Xander, the way her friends are, as well as the men she deals with. With Frankie/ Frances, while Xander and many others being absent affects them, it isn’t known to what extent. Unlike their sisters, they don’t have their heart on their sleeve and are consistently verbal about how they feel. At most, it is once a season they directly say something.
This season, you can assume the poem and participating in “Shake It Out” was directed at Sam, but who knows? Frankie is the last intriguing character and with that comes the question whether killing that enigmatic mystique wouldn’t mean so much getting to know them but feel more like a dissection? Since, unlike the others, Frankie doesn’t feel still yet. The character is still evolving, even three years in, and hasn’t really settled into a person Sam, or even we, really know.
Which, for most shows, that would be an issue. Yet, for Better Things, it allows you into Sam’s mind and into that of a parent who sees their kid on a fairly regular basis and yet still feel like this person is a stranger to them. No matter how nice you are, how you reach out, or how you try to be there for them.
On The Fence
I think we can all agree this thing with David is unhealthy and unethical. Yes, she is no longer his patient, but it feels like he is taken advantage of what he learned when she was to emotional to keep her ensnared. Leading to this twisted relationship that makes it seem like he is trying to foster dependency to live out this teenaged fantasy he had.
Which is honestly upsetting for the way Frankie blows up at Sam, we’re starting to see Sam do that with her friends. All because David couldn’t do his job and wouldn’t cut Sam off when he realized he has feelings for her and is in an opportune position.
|Season/ Episode||Synopsis||Episode Information||Topics & Focused Characters|
|Season 3, Episode 8 “Easter”||It’s Easter and while Max does a photo shoot, and Sam cooks up a storm, Phil causes a bigger scene than usual with Duke and Marion.|
|Season 3, Episode 9 “The Unknown”||It’s a slice of life episode which largely seems to be self-contained until we realized how integral Mer was for everything that happens.|
|Season 3, Episode 10 “Show Me the Magic”||With Sam complaining about not being seen, you may think it is due to lack of intimacy but could it be just wishing she could talk to her dad?|
|Season 3, Episode 7 “Toilet”|
It’s Mother’s Day and the eve of Sam’s colonoscopy, and it seems she needs to let some s*** go.
|Season 3, Episode 6 “What is Jeopardy”|
As Sam revisits her past, far more than she’d like to, Phil finds herself part of one life-changing event and admitting that, for her personal life, things aren’t the same.
|Season 3, Episode 3 “Nesting”||What begins as a nice family dinner becomes what all do – a bit of bickering, regret, and then a thankful calm.|
|Season 3, Episode 4 “Monsters in the Moonlight”||At this point in her life, Sam wishes things would get easier and it wasn’t always on her. Yet, who does she know willing to step up?|
|Season 3, Episode 5 “No Limit”||After a trying few days, Sam has a bit of a breakdown that drinking with friends won’t fix.|
|Season 3, Episode 2 “Holding”||Between dealing with ass****s on set, and then at Duke’s school, Sam tries to pick her battles and one leads to someone getting smacked.|
|Season 1/ Episode 1 "Sam/Pilot"||In a way, the show is like a female version of Louie with the exception that Pamela Adlon is less socially awkward and she has three daughters instead of two.|
|Season 2/ Episode 1 “September”||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?”|| |
|Season 2/ Episode 2 “Rising”||In this episode of Better Things, it seems the idea is: Sam is only a mean person if you give her reason to be a mean person.|| |
|Season 2/ Episode 3 “Robin”||Could Sam have really found love? May the title of this show, Better Things, no longer be wishful thinking but actually here?|| |
|Season 2/ Episode 4 “Sick”||As Sam is trying to talk herself into breaking up with Robin, Xander shows up and reminds her why she fears love.|| |
|Season 2/ Episode 5 “Phil”||While Phil has always been mean-spirited and quirky, something is seriously wrong now. To the point, Sam isn’t sure if she can handle her anymore.|| |
|Season 2/ Episode 6 “Eulogy”||In a change of pace episode, we’re shown what it is like to be in acting alongside a reminder of how much Sam means to her kids. Sam and Frankie anyway.|
|Season 2/ Episode 7 “Blackout”||After a blackout, Jeff and Sam head on down to the store to buy a generator. Which leads to her running into Robin.|
|Season 2/ Episode 8 “Arnold Hall”||Pray for Sam everybody. For between Xander’s dad Arnold and Frankie, she may actually lose her mind – if she didn’t already lose it.|
|Season 2/ Episode 9 “White Rock”||During a trip to Canada with her kids, a family secret is learned about from Sam’s uncle Lester.|
|Season 2/ Episode 10 “Graduation”||It’s Max’s graduation and perhaps the parting lesson Sam gives her is about consistency and a reminder of what love is.|
|Season 3, Episode 1 “Chicago”||It has been more than a year since we were gifted with a new episode of Better Things, and this feels like an appetizer for what’s to come.|