Better Things Season 3 Premiere Review

It may feel like it's been forever, but somehow it's only been a little over a year since Better Things last graced our TV screens. It's a testament to the brilliance of Pamela Adlon and the creative team behind the show that it feels like it's been so much longer than it actually has been. I've missed all of this show's characters, particularly Sam and the delightfully batty Phil. Let's see

Sam is in Chicago with Max, who is going to college, and they go shopping to get things Max will need. Max runs off to get her room, leaving Sam behind with all of their stuff, more than any one person could possibly carry. Sam gets to Max's room, and they meet her new roommate. Later on, they two go off to dinner together and excitedly discuss Max's future at college. After some discussion about going to hear music, Max shows Sam her fake ID, and they go to listen to some music. Later on, they share an embrace before Sam heads home. She gets stopped at the airport by the TSA, and it takes a bit of convincing before she can go through. Sam gets excited when she is asked for her ID at the bar, though that excitement quickly fades when some... older patrons tell her that they were all asked for ID.

On the plane, Sam meets a man who was separated from his wife in Chicago, who had to stay to return their car. She also gets recognized by a fellow passenger and chats with him. Unfortunately, a fire starts on the plane and they have to make an emergency landing in Missouri. Sam tells Rich the situation and asks him to watch the girls until she's home. Once she finally arrives in LA, she discovers that Phil's car is smashed, though she doesn't really get to ask her questions as Phil is playing cards with her friends and doesn't seem interested in talking to Sam.

Sam finally makes her way to her house, and she is welcomed by the sight of Frankie's friends, though Frankie is up in her room. Sam stops in to see Frankie, and the two get into an argument over reading a play for school, though Sam offers a compromise that makes them both happy.


I've come to expect great things from Better Things, and a great thing is exactly what we got tonight. Some of the show's best supporting characters may not have gotten the screen time I wish they would have gotten, considering that they've been aways for so long, but this episode was undeniably Sam's. It was her time to shine, and she deserved all of the attention that she got this time around. It was a hard day for her, and we got to experience her entire journey, from start to finish. In her portrayal of Sam, Pamela Adlon brilliantly made it clear that this day was not a good one for our lead. Sam only expressed how troublesome the day was late in the episode (well, at least she tried to), but you could tell through much of the episode that Sam's data was just not going well, no matter how brave of a face she put on. Adlon's nuanced performance, coupled with brilliant directing and writing (which were both done solely by Adlon) helped make this one f the show's strongest episodes to date, and I ma so incredibly excited to see how the show spends its remaining eleven episodes of the season. If they're as brilliant as the premiere, we're in for what may be an all-time great season of television.

Score: 9.5/10
Grade: A

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