Summer 2015 Review: Difficult People

7 Aug

Difficult People

Difficult People comes from a long tradition of a certain type of sitcom, dipping into the well that Seinfeld created and Curb Your Enthusiasm doubled down on (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is another foremost practitioner of the style). Here are the general tenants of such comedies. The main characters aren’t necessarily unlikeable, but don’t particularly care about being likeable either. They live in their own world and don’t care what other people think. They get into constant tiffs and situations with other people, who basically exist just to be irritated and bemused with and by our protagonists. Sometimes the protagonists are in the right, and the people they’re speaking with are crazily unreasonable, sometimes the protagonists are obviously unreasonable, and sometimes the line is grey. Coincidence plays a huge role in these types of shows; a person who the protagonists pissed off or got into a fight with earlier often shows up later in the most awkward and uncomfortable place. The first episode of Difficult People checks off all of these boxes. 

Best friends and comedy partners Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner play best friends and comedy partners Billy Epstein and Julie Kessler. They live in their own world, constantly inundated with social media; both are constantly on their phones and one of the recurring bits revolves around a joke which Julie made and then deleted on Twitter. Billy and Julie get into two arguments/awkward situations in the episode. First, with a mother at the theater who doesn’t like their language around her kids, and second, with a start up CEO who is unimpressed and confused by Julie and Billy’s idea to bottle and market school library water fountain water. These two people, both of whom they ticked off, end up being married and show up at Julie’s boyfriend’s boss’s party that everyone is at at the end of the episode, making everything extra awkward.

The supporting cast includes Julie’s boyfriend (played by the voice of Venture Bros.’ Dr. Venture, James Urbaniak), her mother, and Billy’s boss and coworkers at the café where he waits tables. 

Billy and Julie are big personalities; if they rub you the wrong way, and I can see how they might, the show isn’t for you. But that wasn’t a problem for me, and if you like the shows mentioned above that Difficult People mimics, Seinfeld, Curb, and Always Sunny, I don’t think it will be a problem for you either. The jokes were hit and miss, but the style is a proven one, and while it does copy a lot of the Seinfeld-ian mode, it still works, and it separates itself from those shows by bringing the protagonists personalities to bear on that style of humor.

Difficult People won’t blow your mind, and it wasn’t a smash from the first episode. But it had funny moments, it’s a breeze to watch, and frankly there’s a shortage of good comedies on TV so I’m willing to give them some leeway even if every episode isn’t perfect.

Will I watch it again? Yes, it was generally funny, and while it wasn’t wall-to-wall hilarity, it was very easy to watch. I like this type of show in general, it’s 20 minutes, so why not?

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