Better Things: Season 5/ Episode 5 “The World Is Mean Right Now” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Sam sitting on her steps, after a frustrating dinner with her family

Sam has come to the point of no longer just taking it on the chin and not only doing nothing but saying nothing.

Sam has come to the point of no longer just taking it on the chin and finally has someone in her family that doesn’t think she is always overreacting.

Aired 3/21/2022
Network FX
Directed By Pamela Adlon
Written By Ariel Leve, Ryan Raimann


Health Check – Dr. Babu, Frankie, Duke, Sam

After some heavy breathing and struggling with getting up a flight of stairs, Duke and Frankie are a bit worried. So with that in mind and her being due for a check-up, Sam talks to Dr. Babu about this, and from what he sees, she is physically fit. Probably needs to head back to therapy, as he recommended last time, but we saw what came of that.

Why Are You All So Committed To Stressing Me Out? – Phil, Duke, Sam, Frankie, Max

With Phil’s friends mainly available to her on ZOOM and her not really savvy with her tablet, Sam makes an effort to make sure she and her kids go see Phil, even if on a Saturday afternoon. This starts off nice since Sam cooked quite a bit, but it turns sour quickly. Phil reveals she got chicken for people to eat, which quickly gets everyone’s attention over Sam’s meal, but the kicker is Phil bringing out Xander and Sam’s wedding album. With that, Frankie and Max are amazed, and Sam is immediately uncomfortable to the point of protesting.

This isn’t taken lightly, and it seems neither Max nor Frankie care, and Frankie makes a concentrated effort to enrage Sam to the point she has to leave the room. Duke, who sat there and watched, decides to go off on everyone over what happened. She goes after them all for not caring how Sam felt, and even Phil for knowing how Sam feels about Xander, yet deciding this would be the time to take out a book she knows would get a negative reaction.

Frankie gaslighting their mom

But the annoyance doesn’t end there. When Sam comes over at a later date, not only does Phil not apologize for what she said and did, she actually thinks, while Sam is out talking about going to San Francisco, she is going to tag along! Sam shuts that down, and of course, Phil tries to go back and forth with her, but then Sam goes off as Duke did, and with that, Phil backs down and taps out.

Sometimes I’m Wrong – Frankie, Sam

While Frankie is quick to go to battle with Sam, it seems Duke got to them, and with that, their peace offering is a green smoothie, for Frankie wants Sam to stay alive. On top of that, they give a proper apology, and with that, there is peace. Well, after Sam tries to get around Frankie to get coffee rather than drink this green juice they gave her.

Things To Note

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. How did Frankie pick up on that slow clap to get under Sam’s skin?
  2. Did the Feng Shui dude note to Duke she hasn’t lost her powers?

What Could Happen Next

  1. Max likely trying to sneak guys in her room
  2. Sam enjoying San Francisco and thinking about moving there when Duke is older



Duke Standing Up For Sam

Yes, Duke is the youngest, a teenager, and a tad bit spoiled, yet she is also the only one who has consistently given Sam reciprocity. She is the first one who will stick up for Sam, say she loves her cooking to her face, and show as much as she is dependent on her, she isn’t just trying to take and disregard how Sam feels.

This episode is the best example as Max, despite being the oldest, knowing full well what Xander did to Sam, says nothing to squash the situation. Frankie, who knows all the terms for trauma and claims a level of intelligence beyond your average person, gaslights Sam and shows how feeble their emotional intelligence can be. Yet Duke, who is barely a teenager, and has a good relationship with Xander, knows better than to coerce Sam to potentially see pictures of herself with Xander on their wedding day.

Duke calling out her siblings

Duke, who often is envious of her siblings, is forced to realize as attractive as they may physically seem, personality-wise, Max can barely stand up for anyone, never mind herself, and Frankie? They are beyond passive-aggressive. They are just an ass who seems to love pushing people’s boundaries and not taking accountability for how far they took them.

Sam Standing Up For Herself

As said before, Sam is the type who wants to give her kids the kind of family she wanted. Sam wants her kids close to their grandmother, seeing their uncle when possible, and have chosen family members they can go to and see beyond an honorary status due to Sam giving them such. Sam wants them to see Rich and others as people they chose to be like a second father, mother, an aunt, etc.

The problem is, Sam is sometimes the only one invested in doing such. With Phil, in particular, Sam wants to have that mother/ daughter relationship where they can hang out and just enjoy each other’s company. However, Phil is like Frankie and not only knows what Sam’s buttons are, but likes to push them to get a reaction out of her, and then gaslight Sam by making her seem dramatic due to her response.

But, I think with Sam increasingly going off on people, and finally, someone like Duke realizing Sam isn’t overreacting but growing tired of the disrespect, Sam may finally get this dream she has part of her reality.

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  1. Okay, the Fung Shui guy let’s Duke know she hasn’t lost her powers. Is Duke psychic? I know in previous episodes Duke has seen ghosts, in particular her grandfather and the lady on the bench outside Dodger Stadium. Just trying to wrap my head around that scene. Is Pam Adlon’s real youngest daughter psychic.

    1. The way it seems, Duke at least had the ability to sense and see those who died, if they had a strong presence. However, since becoming a teenager, it seems her powers have dissipated. As for whether Pamela Adlin’s youngest is psychic? I’m not sure. She does have an after-show podcast so there is the possibility she talks about what inspired Duke’s storyline on there.

      1. Duke is portrayed by Olivia Edward…who in real life is the daughter of psychic medium John Edward. I’m thinking that’s what sparked the idea for the storyline.

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