BETTER THINGS BBC I-PLAYER
As I get older, I find it more and more difficult to find programmes on television that I enjoy. My husband gets quite frustrated with me, as I’ll start watching something and then stop because I usually find that the programme is ‘too slow’. It is rare that I will watch anything that is American. The only shows that I have watched being House, Breaking Bad and 30Rock and Making a Murderer. I was attracted to watching ‘Getting Better’ because I heard that Celia Imrie was in it. I have to say that I was disappointed when I learnt that it was American, as usually that will mean I dislike it. However, I found the main character, Sam Fox, (no relation to the glamour model!) instantly likeable and last night we ended up binge watching the entire first series of ten episodes. So, if I like it, there is a good chance that you will too.
The programme follows the life of Sam Fox, a former child-star who is now mainly a jobbing actress and voice-over star. She is also a single parent of three daughters who are far from easy. Her mother, played by Celia Imrie lives next door and is not unlike my own mother, with her slightly eccentric behaviour and racist views. It is meant to be a comedy, but the comedy is gentle and more situational than laugh out loud funny. It reminds me of Jo Brand’s irreverent and self-deprecating humour. Those moments in life when things go spectacularly wrong, mainly because of those family members we spend out lives with.
The lead role is played by Pamela Adlon and is semi-autobiographical, as Adlon is also a single parent and voice-over actress, with three daughters. She wrote the show with Louis Szekely, a comedian and it has been produced by the FX channel. I think what really makes the programme work is that Sam is struggling to be a parent as well as the sole breadwinner. Parenting three individual daughters is incredibly hard and she frequently gets it wrong. There is a lot of comedy in her interaction with her girls. Sam is a bit of a tiger Mum, fiercely protective of her kids to such a point that she even threatens her daughter Max’ s boyfriend with what she will do if he tries to have sex with her daughter. The scenes with Celia Imrie are pure joy. Imrie is such an incredible actress that is easy to believe that she really is such a dotty old lady with hoarding tendencies.
This is definitely an intelligent programme that really makes you think about the different roles women play in their lives from daughter to mother to grandmother as well as the different stages that we all experience. I loved Sam’s rousing speech on feminism at her daughter’s school. There are very few men in the show and those that are present are mere bit players in life.
There were ten episodes that we watched in quick succession and I’m really pleased that this show has already shot a second and third series. You can watch the entire first series on BBC I-Player. If I enjoyed it, then you definitely will! I give it four stars out of five.