Hulu’s Difficult People continues its celebration of the people we don’t want to be (but often are)
Television would be a lot better if it had more selfish jerks. A perfect example is the rollickingly rude Difficult People on Hulu, and thank goodness it’s back. After a successful 8-episode freshman season, the buddy sitcom (starring Billy Eichner and creator Julie Klausner) returns with a vengeance, and it feels tighter, wittier, and much more aggressive.
The first three episodes of this current season focus again on Billy and Julie trying to break into the business, but, of course, they want to put in the least amount of work possible. Julie discovers that a frenemy made a showbiz connection at her local synagogue, so she fakes being a more devout Jew in order to land a writing gig. A fictitious show called Horse (about a single mom that sells heroin to support her trans daughter’s horseback riding hobby). The payoff at the end of the first episode is so well thought out and funny that it makes you immediately realize that Klausner and Eichner have stepped up their game this time around.
The best episode so far might be the second where Julie and Billy concoct a charity to gain attention that’s a gross descendant of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Instead of having people throw water over themselves, they think it’s a great idea to get celebrities to stick their hands into a public toilet. Poor Nathan Lane is bullied into the project when they run into him in the park, and they tell him that the proceeds go to the same organization for which Lane proudly volunteers.
The relationship between Billy and Julie has always been rock solid, so the other ones around them can continually flail. Andrea Martin’s role as Julie’s mother, Marilyn, feels more expansive so far. Billy continues to say he wants a suitable boyfriend even though he settles for getting blowjobs in the gym sauna. Eichner and Klausner have an ease with the language (it helps that she writes the scripts) and with each other. They are solidifying themselves as one of the best comic duos on television right now. Shame on Emmy for not taking notice.
The writing is especially biting so far, allowing Eichner and Klausner to really shine in selfish, bitchy comments to the surrounding idiots. I knew I was going to like this batch of episodes when Billy asks, “When did comedies become 30-minute dramas?” The assembled guest starts register an impressive note (Lane, Tina Fey, and Sandra Bernhard have made appearances so far), and it can only get better when Lin-Manuel Miranda and Julianne Moore show up. Hopefully Klausner will let some of these guest stars be as awful as her own character.
While I was preparing my top ten list last year, I hesitated putting Hulu’s Difficult People in the top spot. For some reason, I told myself that I should put something “important” or groundbreaking in the number one slot. Then, I realized that People was the show I anticipated every week. Julie and Billy are the people that I don’t want to be, but they sure as hell are funny.