Better Things: “Woman Is the Something of the Something” Season 1 Episode 4 Review

Better Things needs to churn out a great episode and soon. After an extraordinary pilot that pointed to even greater things to come, the show has sort of stagnated in terms of quality. Each episode has taken on interesting topics, but in a way that feels forced and like Pamela Adlon just wants to get on her soap box. The results are always entertaining at the base, but are rarely funny or deep enough to really resonate. That’s the case with “Woman Is the Something of the Something,” which is split by two halves that ultimately do come together in a singular perfect moment of irony. But getting there was a bit of an uphill battle.   

The weaker half of the episode dealt with Sam herself as we’re mostly just shown more of how difficult and cluttered her life is. She juggles household chores, potential plastic surgery, and her daughters in what amounts to only a slight variation of what we’ve seen in the last three episodes. It’s juxtaposed to the other half, which sees a couple of TV writers (Zach Woods and Danny Pudi, both underused) who want Sam for their pilot as they go through the trials of actually casting her and getting the network to say “yes.” This was the better half of the episode, as it exposed the sickening amount of lying and sexism that goes on when casting for a pilot. There was nothing surreal about these scenes either, which made them all the more disheartening. Meanwhile, Sam is blissfully unaware of all this talk about her as she struggles just to maintain her life as is.

So when the network calls to say they got Rachel McAdams for the part, suddenly making Sam available for a field trip with her daughter that she believes will provide insight into her growth, it’s a great moment of irony. The punchline of the episode is that even had Sam been desired for the role at her age, her maturity and current place in life would have made her not want to take it anyway. But even while this moment ties everything together quite nicely, it doesn’t change the fact that Better Things is already starting to feel a bit routine. The show needs to find a way to keep audiences invested beyond its basic premise. Otherwise, it’s not going to stand out the way it wants to. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

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