Last season, scenes showed the show’s main character, Sam, suffering the indignities of night sweats, weight gain and prepping for a colonoscopy. It’s that willingness to go there on unconventional television topics that has earned “Better Things,” which recently returned on FX and Hulu for a fourth season, critical praise and a loyal fan base.
“I keep little moments and details in my head … things that I want to remember. It's almost like, you know, I'm journaling my life,” Adlon told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “Some of those things that I think are crazy or funny or weird to me, I'm able to put it in… and it works in the world of this show."
Both Adlon and her character, Sam Fox, are single mothers of three daughters, managing acting careers and their feisty British mom, who lives down the street. The third season saw Sam challenging a movie director on issues of safety and respect for cast and crew on set, navigating her rebellious teen’s unapproved departure from home, and the humbling aging process for women over 50. The authenticity and fearlessness of the show has struck a chord with viewers.
"People are thanking me….People are somehow feeling seen, you know,” Adlon said. “(The show) goes deep and it's resonating. And when it's funny and dirty and raw, or when it's the incredible feelings show -- whichever part of it they're reacting to -- I'm so happy to be the David Copperfield of the weirdness in the show.“
In addition to her Emmy-nominated acting role, Adlon executive produces, directs, and writes “Better Things,” giving the show a unique rhythm and personal point of view. While typical iconic scenes of Los Angeles include sunshine and palm trees, season four of “Better Things” opens with a dreamy montage of mellifluous rain. The scene starts with wide exterior city shots: a bookstore, an empty beach, and a tent city created by a homeless community. It's a subtle nod suggesting life isn't always bright and sunny for all.
Sam's interactions with her daughters can be messy, as is parenting. But Adlon says she likes to include positive parenting moments, things she may have wished she did or said in the moment, as an example of what could be.
“I say that Sam is like me in a cape, like she's like super power of me,” Adlon said.