Moment of Goodness / Recaps

Words for the Living in Better Things “Eulogy”

Photo Credit: FX Networks

Tell the people you love that you love them. It’s a simple message that gets easily lost these days, but it’s important, now more than ever, I think. Better Things demonstrated this Thursday night with the excellent “Eulogy,” the sixth episode of its second season, written by Louis C.K and directed by Pamela Adlon.

Adlon’s tour de force continues in a tight 24-minute exploration of a day in the life of Sam Fox as she teaches budding actors their craft and goes through take after take after take to nail her singular line in a car commercial. At every turn, she tells the people she’s working with what’s best about them–even if it’s balanced out with a little tough love for her students. But she never leaves them wondering where they stand with her. They’re hers. She’s grateful for them. She wishes them well. She’s free with, “I love you.”

And then she goes home at the end of a long day, hanging out with her daughters and friends Tressa (Rebecca Metz) and Rich (American Housewife‘s Diedrich Bader) when middle daughter Frankie (Hannah Alligood) skates past one of Sam’s old appearances while flipping stations and doesn’t pause or go back to see what it was. Elder daughter Max (Mikey Madison) asks if she wants to see what it was, but Sam’s upset that it wasn’t automatic. She says she doesn’t care, but we can see she’s hurt and annoyed.

Rich and Tressa chime in that the girls will love her when she’s dead and say beautiful things about how she inspired them at her funeral. Sam says no, “I want it now. I don’t want to have to wait til I’m dead for my kids to appreciate me!”

She gets up, walks to the door and then comes back and turns off the TV. She tells them she’s done some pretty special things, pretty much her whole life, and it pays for all their clothes and it sucks that they don’t give a shit. She points out all the things she’s attended for them and that she’s showered them with praise “when they tried.”  It hurts her feelings that they aren’t proud of her. Max says they’ll say it at her funeral.

She tosses a pillow to the floor and says she’s dead. “Go. Eulogize me.” Frankie hedges, and so does Max. Youngest daughter Duke (Olivia Edward) is traumatized and Sam comforts her that no, no, she’s dead too, she’s with mommy. Still no joy.

Finally, Frankie stands up, but then she mocks her and that hits a nerve. Sam walks out of the house. Tress and Rich denounce them and Rich says they really don’t want to hear what he has to say. Sam drives around and visits with a friend (the late Robert Michael Morris, to whom the episode is dedicated) at a bar until Rich (who’s hysterically “Big Gay Husband” on her phone) summons her home.

Photo Credit: FX Networks

He meets her at the door in a hoodie, holding a scythe and takes her into the living room bathed in candlelight where Duke is laid out on a white sheet as Max and Frankie stand by solemnly dressed in black. Sam lies down beside Duke and then the funeral begins. Tressa says Sam is her best friend even if she wasn’t hers, she’s a hell of a Mom, and her pace car in life.

Frankie steps up and admits she watched all of her Mom’s shows and was proud of her but didn’t want her to know that because then she wouldn’t have that to give anymore. “My mom was my rock, and every day I wake up, I’m not sure I’m going to get through all the stuff in my own head.” She admits that she lightens her own burden by yelling at her Mom about useless shit like lost socks. Now Sam is crying. “I needed to give her some of my pain because I knew she could carry it…and now that she’s gone, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Max goes next and says she never watched her Mom’s performances because she was Mom. She was jealous of people who knew her first and she never wanted to share her, even with her sisters because she remembered when it was just the two of then, even though she and her Dad were still married. “I know that was hard for her but I loved it…I learned from her how to be a woman and a person.”

The girls are weeping, Sam is weeping, and then Rich starts, tongue-in-cheek, that Sam was an unhinged, complicated woman. She was very short, she lied a lot, and was two years older than anyone knew. “She was the rudest, most inappropriate woman I’ve ever met.”

Sam finally gets up, laughing through tears, thanking them and telling them how much she loves them. They group hug and then Duke sits up, wailing that nobody acknowledged her, so they laugh and cuddle her and dance around her a la Rosemary’s Baby.

For a moment in the chaos, they’re restored and whole, validating that they belong to each other always. Although often left unsaid, they do love and appreciate each other. “Eulogy” confirms that sometimes that needs to be said out loud, as much for those speaking as those still here to hear it.

I’m very glad I found this show. It’s on my list now to go back and watch the first season. Even better, it’s already been renewed for a third season. If you’re not watching it, check it out. It’s an extraordinary story of a single mom to three daughters and single daughter to her own mother in failing health, navigating her stable but not skyrocketing career and doing the best she can on the day.

Better Things airs Thursdays at 10/9c on FX. Here’s a sneak peek of this week’s new episode.

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2 Comments

  1. Check out my baby brother, Arthur Keng, as budding actor, Wong! He has nothing but awesome things to say about working with Adlon. In fact, it may have been the singular most exciting moment of his acting career to date. 🙂

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