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Better Things embraced the messiness of life

  • NPR

    "Over five seasons, it never failed to make me feel something, anything, during the course of an episode: mirth, empathy, embarrassment, sadness, introspection, catharsis, hope, a glass cage of emotion," says Aisha Harris. "It was the kind of show you put on not knowing exactly what you were going to get – more mood-forward than plot-driven – but understanding by the end you were going to come away feeling a little bit closer to Sam and her world, as though they were a part of your own. Sam is a hub, the kind of person who serves as the central link for a wide and diverse network of family and friends, a woman who values and nurtures her connections by showing up for them and creating a home where they can all comfortably converge. I believe most of us crave a Sam in our lives, if we don't have one already." Harris adds that the statement of Better Things is "this idea of pouring one's self into the world, of being fully present, of feeling all the feels. It's been palpable from the very first episode and through to 'Eulogy' and these last episodes. As much as the show invokes death, it's always in the service of promoting the small joys of just existing and living. For Sam, it's absolutely crucial to tell, and show, the important ones in your life how much they mean to you, whenever you can. Such things cannot wait until after it's too late and they've gone."


    • As befits Better Things' general vibe, there is a deeply engrained sense of hope and happiness in the series finale: "Better Things has always been a show with one hand held out, gently tugging you into a house where the doors don’t lock and the kitchen’s always going," says Yohana Desta. "There’s something warm and fragrant in the air; people are in and out, talking, laughing, crying, weathering life’s weirdness and tragedy with jokes and oodles of unconditional love. For five seasons, creator Pamela Adlon brought viewers into this world of autofiction, where her onscreen persona Sam Fox raised three unruly daughters, took care of old friends, and welcomed in new ones. On Monday night, Adlon brought the show to a close with a wink and a song—setting Sam on the open road, driving into a starry nighttime expanse."
    • Pamela Adlon says the final scene was about connection: " I wanted to see the connection," she says. "I wanted to give that to people. Of course, everything’s an experiment, and I don’t know how people are going to respond or anything. But I’ve used footage sometimes where somebody speaks to the camera or does something that you’re like, 'Wait, did I just see that?' It feels like you are in there, like they’re looking at you. You’re part of it. You know? That was always a big part of the show — that people feel this kinetic kind of visceral connection to the things that are going on. So we just had people look right at viewers and draw them in further — hopefully. It’s almost like you could step onto the set, like you are a part of it. People want to be in this universe, and they are in this universe."
    • Adlon wanted to emphasize that the Better Things world will keep going: "One of the things I wanted to do, despite knowing it’s the final season, is still keep the world going," she says. "Sam is creeping on the blue house, and you understand why in the finale. It’s because that’s her childhood home. You meet the present owner of the house, played by John Ortiz, and then we meet him again as the park ranger when they reconnect. That’s something I hope audiences look at and wonder, 'Oh, what’s going to happen between them, are they going to become friends?' I plant new seeds for the future, and I like that. I’ve ended every season as if it was the last one. Life keeps going, it’s not up to me, it’s just part of the way we’ve always told the story. It’s fun to think I could look at the world again down the line."
    • Adlon didn't want the end of Better Things to be something to be sad about: “I wanted to keep the story going as if the stories will keep going," she says. "I don’t consider it being the end for Better Things, which is the way I live my life. People are like are you in mourning? I felt like people want me to be sad and have this moment. Truth is this has been seven years of my life. When I started this show, my life looked very different. All my kids lived at home, there’s been many scorched earth moments throughout the years. I’ve lost many people, I’ve had to make adjustments in terms of pivots and major life changes.”

    TOPICS: Better Things, FX, Pamela Adlon