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Sam leans into bad decisions on Better Things

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How many teenagers out there are that obsessed with Joe Walsh? Look, I understand that Joe Walsh was in this episode to symbolize something other than common ground between Sam and Max, but there were a lot of young people who seemed pretty pumped about seeing a solo show by the former Eagle. Is this normal in Los Angeles? That teens love Joe Walsh? Or did it ring a little ridiculous that Max and her friend were that excited to see Joe Walsh in concert, no matter how many vintage-style jackets they own. But maybe that’s just me and my general distaste for Joe Walsh.


Sorry, Joe Walsh.

The title of this episode, “Hair of the Dog,” refers to the counterintuitive practice of drinking more booze to ease the pain of drinking too much booze. Sometimes, it’s the unexpected that works. Take Joe Walsh: He opens up his set by talking about the club that he’s headlining. He’s had a great time playing there in the past, although he can’t remember any of it but his band tells him he’s had a great time. But when it comes to Macy’s headache, it’s Joe whose got a folksy remedy ready to go: chamomile tea and lots of hot sauce. In the beginning of “Hair of the Dog,” Sam chats with a friend about the state of their relationships. Sam’s mystery man means nothing to her, she lies. They used to condoms, she lies. He kicked his loser to the curb, he lies. But they know each other, the know that they’re lying as a way to comfort themselves based on romantic relationships that don’t thrill them. But in this way they form their own weird bond over their mutual untruths. It’s counterintuitive to lie about an important relationship to a friend, but for Sam and buddy, it creates its own weird bridge with each other. Neither of them are good at romantic love, but that brings them closer together.

There were a lot of lovely examples of friendship in this episode. Sam and Macy — the brunette and the blonde — are joined at the concert by Max and Paisley — the brunette and the blonde. Each paired showed how much they cared for each other in their own weird ways. Max and Paisley hug each other after Paisley reminds Max that her mom is actually pretty cool. Macy and Sam bond over Macy’s unexpected connection to Paisley. “So you’re like blowing eskimo mother and daughter with Paisley,” Sam says after discovering that Macy blew the dad of a kid whom Paisley had previously blown. “You finally had a kid!” But even this instance was instigated by Sam pushing when common sense says she should have stopped: When she figured out that Paisley and Aaron had a romantic history, Sam discussed her philosophy of blow jobs with her daughter’s teen friend. It was a conversation that led to Paisley reminding Max that she has it much better than she thinks she does.

The same could be said for the table, a painful reminder of Sam’s failed marriage. It is a great bother to her but the more effort she puts into it, rather than just ridding herself of the shabby chic piece of furniture, the more benefit it has. Rather than say no to the Bulgarian furniture vulture and send him on his way, Sam continues to talk to him until she gets a sick chicken recipe out of the exchange. (The way the Bulgarian says, “I have a way of cooking chicken that makes the meat fall off the bone,” was said with perfect amount of menace and pride.) When Sam can’t rid herself out this painful memory, she instead makes it a centerpiece for her family dinner celebration. What was once a terrible, immovable piece of Sam’s life — I loved the shot of Sam looking at the table with such disgust — instead gets repurposed into something new and wonderful.


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