• Wed, 14, Oct, 2020 - 5:00:AM

Better Things is the best show you’ve never seen

Screenshot: Better Things Season 3 Trailer / YouTube

Honestly, I get kind of sick of watching TV shows that don’t look or sound anything like real life. Don’t get me wrong, I love Game of Thrones and Stranger Things and The Haunting of Hill House, but I feel like there’s only so much I can take of those huge, fantastical, dystopian shows before I become emotionally removed. There’s only so many dragons, elves, ghosts, explosions and bank heists a girl can take.

Hands down, every time, I would much rather watch something grounded and realistic. I’d much rather watch a show where the characters feel like people I know, the relationships feel like my own and the small moments feel like ones I’ve experienced a million times before.

But those shows are harder to find. They’re not as splashy or exciting. They’re never in the Netflix Top Ten. They don’t have gory, blood-soaked weddings, incestuous affairs and sword fights that get people talking by the water cooler the next morning.

So, if you’re anything like me, and if you’ve already watched Fleabag, Feel Good, Parenthood and Friday Night Lights so many times that you can recite them word for word, please, let me introduce you to Better Things.

Better Things, created by and starring Pamela Adlon, follows the life of Sam Fox, a single mother to three daughters. And that’s basically it. That’s the whole plot.

Each episode doesn’t necessarily have an ongoing storyline. The names and backstories of characters that walk through the family’s life are almost never explained. There are entire scenes that just consist of teenage girls shouting “MOM!” over and over again, scenes that serve no other purpose than to remind you how annoying teenagers can be.

But that’s why it’s so good: it’s about life. It’s about the ups and downs, but also every other small, nothing-y thing that happens in a day. It’s a show about the mundane moments in life that most of us forget about, until they’re reflected right back to us on screen and suddenly we’re crying. Its characters are grounded, extraordinarily realistic and often unbearably annoying, just like real people.

I know this doesn’t sound like a groundbreaking premise for a TV show, but the lack of excitement is what makes it groundbreaking. It’s a show about nothing and that’s what makes it so good.

But, at the same time, it’s a show about so much. It’s about being a single mother. It’s about being a daughter. It’s about being a woman. It’s about looking after your children and your parents at the same time. It’s about how sometimes your friends are the loves of your life. It’s about community, about pain, about love and about finding joy in suffering.

You can watch all four seasons of Better Things on Neon.


  • Better Things /
  • TV /
  • Pamela Adlon /
  • Motherhood /
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