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Series / Better Things

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Better Things is an FX series created by Louis C.K. and Pamela Adlon.

Adlon plays Sam Fox, an aging actress and single mother in Los Angeles, struggling to find work while also raising her three daughters of varying adolescence: Max, an angsty teenager, Frankie a tomboyish tween, and Duke, the youngest of the Fox clan. Also in the picture is Sam's mother Phyllis, with whom she has a complicated relationship.


Better Things contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adult Fear: Sam worries about her daughters, especially Max.
  • Aerith and Bob: Duke's best friend is named Sorrow. Sorrow's brother is named Push.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: How Sam's daughters often see her. They're often justified in thinking that way.
  • Amicable Exes: Jeff and Sunny, eventually.
  • As Himself: Doug Jones appears as himself shooting "Monsters in the Moonlight" with Sam. Mike Judge appears as himself as the creator of "Ching of the Mill."
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Duke is the youngest of Sam's three daughters, and is treated very fondly by pretty much everyone.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Max is very dramatic and whiny, which Sam doesn't buy into. Usually.
  • The Cutie: Duke, being the littlest of Sam's kids, is naturally this.
  • Disappeared Dad: Xander is somewhat present, but more often than not is not there for his children.
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  • Gender-Blender Name: Sam and all three of her daughters have one. Becomes fairly notable when Sam starts to question Frankie's gender identity.
  • Hollywood Old: As an aging actress in Hollywood, Sam struggles to find substantial roles, usually settling for bit parts.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: A non-romantic example. Sam, played by the 4'11 Pamela Adlon, is best friends with Rich, who is played by the 6'2 Diedrich Bader.
  • Immigrant Parents: Phyllis is originally from England, but Sam was born and raised in America.
  • Jitter Cam: The show does this a lot.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In "White Rock", Duke notices a woman in an Ethereal White Dress who could either be the spirit of either her late, great-aunt, or a suicidal woman who once lived in the area. Whether she's real or just Duke's imagination manifested from hearing about these women is left ambiguous.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Frankie starts to show this during Season 2 and it's taken Up to Eleven in Season 3 when her frustration at Sam's refusal to explain why she left Xander and raised the girls alone prompts her to run away.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": In "Blackout", an Almost Kiss with a friend's ex leads Sam to pull off an absolutely epic one, going on for almost two minutes.
    Sam: ...We calm down. We calm down because this. Is a very. NO.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jeff tells Sam he is going to give one to Xander after he unexpectedly shows up to a Frankie's "Batceañera." However, the speech ends up coming from Rich, who tells Xander that he has been more of a father to Max, Frankie, and Duke than the latter ever will be.
  • Show Within a Show: Sam starred for ten years as the voice of Rooster in "Ching of the Mill."
  • Spear Counterpart: To Louie, which co-creator Louis C.K. also created.
  • Straight Gay: Rich.
  • Tomboy: Frankie dresses and acts very tomboyish. It's later suggested that Frankie is less tomboyish and more... boyish.
  • Wham Line: In "Only Women Bleed":
    Max: Mom... Frankie's a boy.


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