After watching the pilot of the FX sitcom, Better Things, I realized that unlike most sitcoms, men are tangential to this story. Pamela Adlon plays Sam Fox, an actress, divorcee, and mother of three daughters. Based on the pilot, the show appears to exemplify the every day life of Sam Fox as she balances her personal life, career, and family.
While sitcoms with strong female leads, as seen in shows such as 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, have not gone unnoticed, I think Better Things will prove to have an advantage as the show goes beyond just a female lead with an absence of men.
Still from Better Things, “Sam/Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1, 2016)
The sitcom centers on Sam and her three daughters, thus no centering on a male character. Sam is a multi-dimensional character. She takes on the role as mother and father to her three girls that are all in different developmental phases. The different challenges of these developmental phases are continuously demonstrated through teenage rebellion and the differing needs of her youngest. Sam balances her work, personal, and family life without the need for a constant male character. I think this is important because it demonstrates the authenticity of Pamela Adlon’s character.
I believe in the power of this sitcom because of the reality of the storyline and the female cast. Reality in the sense that every event in the show that happens is completely plausible. I think that this sitcom demonstrates that engaging and entertaining sitcoms easily thrive when there is no main male character. In my opinion, this sitcom does not need a male perspective. Sitcoms do not need to be male-centered in order to be relatable or successful.
If a show absent of a male lead is a turn-off for you, I challenge you to watch the pilot. I believe that most people who watch the show will fail to even notice the lack of men because there is nothing missing from the show. There is no need for a main male presence. I’m looking forward to the progression of Sam Fox’s character and the events that unfold in her life.
For more background on the show and Pamela Adlon’s take on the absence of men, check out Vanity Fair’s article On FX’s Dark, Innovative Comedy Better Things, White Men Are the Minority
– Katie Thevenow