After a trying few days, Sam has a bit of a breakdown that drinking with friends won’t fix.
Pamela Adlon, Joe Hortua
Introduced This Episode
Irrelevance: Sam, Lala, Ida
With Sam in the early stages of menopause, issues with her kids, her ex raping her in her dreams, and feeling less desirable than ever, it’s messing with her. Her sleep is off, and when Lala has a birthday, she gets a bit drunk, and while she doesn’t do coke with Ida, she acts up a bit. But with drinking comes sober thoughts and speaking with Lala, she notes how aging is messing with her. Mostly realizing that her body is the best it will be and it’s downhill and soon she’ll have a mustache and more.
All of that, and other conversations she has with her doctors, brings her down a bit but, as we’ve seen, Sam may have moments of weakness, but they can’t last long. She is the breadwinner and while her friends complain about their husbands being boring, not as helpful as they’d like, and other criticisms, they still love them and have one. Which isn’t to say Sam regrets losing hers but possibly wishes she had someone by now.
So Much For A Childhood: Sam, Frankie, Duke
All Sam wanted to do was take her kids to a go-kart place and have some fun. Instead, she ends up with whiplash and Duke and Frankie arguing. So, in hopes that letting them go at one another for a minute instead of trying to broker peace, she learns Duke has a filthy mouth. Which, though a surprise, it makes her laugh and honestly, that is what Sam needs more of.
The Doctor Is Here To F***ing See You: Sam, Dr. Babu
Well, that and some sleep but her doctor, Dr. Babu, would rather her see a psychotherapist. For with her breaking down to him, as much as he could provide Xanax and more, he realizes that won’t treat the problem and cause him to have an addict. So while Sam isn’t fond of the idea, she takes the referral.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
I get Sam has been in the industry for a long time, and likely made a lot of friends due to that but, why are we just meeting these people? Not just Ida, Lala, and but her doctor?
Getting Old Is Hard
There is a reason why Better Things was recently renewed for a fourth season, and this entire episode showed it. Characters aging isn’t anything new but the way Adlon writes it presents it in a way which addresses the mental, if not emotional, pain of doing so, but also the attempts to lightening it up. On top of that, I’ve heard in my life that when women reach a certain age, and know themselves, they are their purest self.
Now, yes, Sam being honest to herself and others sometimes leads to trouble, misinterpretation, and results she didn’t think she’d reach. However, us seeing that from the lead character and not someone supporting or part of an ensemble I want to say isn’t seen enough. Especially since Sam doesn’t fit any archetypes. While a mom, who is suffering because of her middle child’s mouth and older child trying to be a free spirit on her dime, it isn’t like she takes all that suffering and says nothing. Then as a friend, she says and much as she takes in, and isn’t this person who absorbs all people’s problems and just blows up in time.
Also, as strong as Sam is shown, she has that perfect balance of the positive traits associated with masculinity and femininity. Which perhaps makes her life even harder since, as she said, she’s a girl’s girl and a guy’s girl and even at her age, it seems, there are moments she can’t quickly switch up to fit the persona which that person may need. Mind you, most of her friends are cool with vulgarity and being a bit wild, but there are also moments when they are just women talking about their kids and husband and, like Lala, questioning if they were duped.
But I’d be remiss not to add not just her strength to endure all this but also the strength to admit she is faltering too. While a little bit of a shock when she broke down to Dr. Babu, her allowing herself to speak on it, to multiple people, reminds you that as tough and flexible as Sam is, she still has feelings. The kind which aren’t always solved with flipping out for a moment and then reeling it back in.
Sam In Therapy
Making the idea of her doing therapy another positive piece of representation. For if you run down Sam’s list of why she is stressed out, it is all normal things. It has nothing to do with being an actress or work-related stuff. It’s the things every parent goes through, what women go through at a certain age, and what people with aging parents deal with. So being pushed to deal with it instead of popping a pill for a distraction should lead to interesting results.