Review: ‘People’ I Want to Know

Should I be concerned with how quickly I reacted/identified to Hulu’s new bitchy comedy, Difficult People? Television could really use more characters as wickedly loud and frustrated as Julie and Billy. They navigate their lives through New York City and dealing with all the jackwagons around them with an enviable aplomb. Hulu debuted two episodes this week, but people will want more very soon.

Julie and Billy seem to get themselves into situations that most people would avoid. For instance, they excitedly attend a performance of the Broadway musical Annie, and their casual cussing catches the attention of a mother several rows in front of them. When she asks them to stop using such language, they are offended, and Julie then proceeds to tell the youngsters, “You’re seeing the understudy anyway. You know what understudy means? It means you’re a disappointment.”

While Billy ignores customers at his serving job, Julie writes television recaps for a website (maybe that’s where it’s all so familiar…), but they both long to do other things. She wants to be a writer, and he wants to get back into acting. Gabourey Sidibe and Cole Escola play his overly bitchy co-workers who like to rub the salt in all of Billy’s wounds. They surely have a show on another streaming service, right? By the way, if you are unfamiliar with Escola, please watch any of his videos on YouTube where he accurately impersonates the legendary Bernadette Peters.

Of the two episodes that debuted, the pilot is stronger, because Julie and Billy are allowed to be together more. The second episode (titled “Devil’s Three-way”) allows us to get to know other characters like Julie’s husband, Arthur (James Urbaniak; you know, the guy who sniffed Charlotte’s shoes on Sex and the City), and her hypnotist mother played by the incomparable Andrea Martin.

Klausner and Eichner have a screech to a halt chemistry. They are hurling insults at whoever is opposing them so quickly that the other person wouldn’t even have time to catch all the barbs being thrown. It’s hard to describe this cattiness without unsuccessfully quoting it all. It’s slanderous and acid and sardonic. Any show that begins its second episode with an unsuccessful story about being stuck in an elevator with Katharine McPhee goes to the top of my list.

These are difficult people that I want to hang out with.

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