July 27, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

“Difficult People” is the Most Opinionated Show on Television

It is a truth self-evident that there is far too much TV in this world: Too much of it long, too little of it good. “Difficult People,” a show that made its reputation off of mocking the mediocrity of other shows, does not have this problem. “Difficult People,” as much a traditional half-hour comedy as it is a send-up of the traditional half-hour comedy, is, in fact, as close as one can get to a perfection of the art form.

“All the people who used to say they didn’t have televisions are now saying ‘There’s too much TV to watch!” Billy Eichner says to a perpetually unamused casting agent with a bucket of kosher pickles on her desk. And so begins another foray into the world of Billy and Julie, two lovable out-of-work actors in their mid-thirties with no conscience to speak of, unless it comes to minor pop culture details. In that area, the two have plenty of moral stands to take, many of them inconvenient. Season three opens with a distinctive cross-carrying moment, as Billy and Julie martyr themselves at a performance of Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George” starring the entire cast of flyover-country favorite “The Big Bang Theory” (retitled “Bazinga in the Park with George.” Such lowbrow horrors, of course, will not stand for Billy and Julie, who storm the stage carrying signs saying “No Bazinga” and “Respect Sondheim’s Intentions.”

These are the same two people who, just minutes later, will dump bags of roadside trash into the car of a Trump supporter (another moral judgment) and use their community service time to brainstorm ways of furthering their careers. “Difficult People” is, like so many shows set in New York, a comedy of misery. It’s also a comedy of pure democracy, with judgments freely cast and decisive opinions freely held. It’s also one of the out-and-out gayest shows on television – that rare half-hour that will not only make explicit mention of gay sex by characters who actually engage in it (“I didn’t earn the title “shutter eye” JUST because of my anus!”) but gets closer to showing it than anything else on TV.

difficult-people-season-3
Julie’s mother Marilyn (Andrea Martin) dabbles in a Pence conversion therapy scheme in Season 3.

This might not seem like a huge thing in 2017, and it shouldn’t be a huge thing in 2017. But this is Trump’s America and – surprise! – it is. In the same way that it’s groundbreaking to talk casually about gay sex on TV, it’s also groundbreaking to cast an Asian male as a gay love interest, which is exactly what “Difficult People” does, bringing on the magnificent John Cho as Billy’s I’m-just-as-terrible-as-you-are perfect match.

Many people equate the show’s caustic sarcasm and the selfishness of its characters with a bitter and cynical worldview. However, although Billy and Julie’s view of the world is strained, petty, and myopic, it also has an enormous amount of heart. Despite their disregard for others, their obsessive need for attention, and the way in which they use everything as a disastrous attempt to further their careers, the characters do, in fact, stand for something. More importantly, they stand against something. Perhaps it’s the dumbing down of our culture – the thing that makes a “Bazinga in the Park” seem not only possible but probable. Maybe it’s the idea that we should pretend to care about things that we will simply never care about. Maybe it’s the foolish pretense of having to go around the world – especially the world of New York – pretending like you’re not totally looking out for #1 all the time. Whatever the cause, “Difficult People” has stayed consist in fighting against the force that’s transforming their country into a plebeian black hole full of “Big Bang” lovers and Trump supporters. And that, in this day and age, is the real, selfless work.

Related Posts

GLAAD Responds To Historic Emmy Noms

July 26, 2021

July 26, 2021

GLAAD has responded to the historic Emmy nominations after it was announced that out trans actress MJ Rodriguez and out...

MJ Rodriguez Makes History As First Out Trans Woman Emmy Nominee

July 26, 2021

July 26, 2021

Actress Michaela Jaé, formerly known as  MJ Rodriguez, became the first out trans woman performer to be nominated in a...

“Gayest Episode Ever” An LGBTQ+ Podcast

June 29, 2021

June 29, 2021

Gayest Episode Ever is an LGBTQ+ podcast hosted by journalist Drew Mackie and screenwriter Glen Lakin. The podcast looks at...

Buzzfeed’s Docuseries “The Andrea Mares Project”

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

BuzzFeed’s As/Is presents “The Andrea Mares Project,” a docuseries that shadows Andrea Mares, a trans-feminine Latinx, as she embarks on...

2021 Pride Announces “Thrive With Pride” Theme

May 15, 2021

May 15, 2021

LA Pride has announced its 2021 pride theme this year called “Thrive With Pride”.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in...

Ellen DeGeneres Ending 18 Year Talk Show

May 13, 2021

May 13, 2021

After more than 3,000 episodes and 19 seasons it is confirmed that Ellen DeGeneres is ending her talk show The...

Ellen DeGeneres Under Fire For Admitting To Driving Under The Influence

April 30, 2021

April 30, 2021

Ellen DeGeneres is under fire for admitting to driving wife Portia DeRossi to the hospital while under the influence.  While...

Tina Turner Documentary Breaks Records

April 4, 2021

April 4, 2021

Singer, song writer and gay icon Tina Turner released a documentary on HBO Max as a farewell to her fans...

First Gay Teen Captain America Revealed By Marvel

March 28, 2021

March 28, 2021

Marvel Comics has revealed the first look at a new Captain America who happens to be a gay teen.  The...

32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards

March 21, 2021

March 21, 2021

GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today announced a new slate of...

New Grindr TV Show

March 18, 2021

March 18, 2021

The popular LGBTQ dating app Grindr is getting its own original scripted TV show set to air this fall. Bridesman...

Anti-LGBTQ Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh Dies At 70

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

Controversial talk show host Rush Limbaugh died on Feb. 17th from complications of lung cancer at his home in Palm...

Hal Holbrook, Actor Who Played Mark Twain, Dies At 95

February 3, 2021

February 3, 2021

Hal Holbrook, the actor best known for his accurate portrayal of Samuel Clemens — better known as Mark Twain —...

Award Decorated Actress, Cloris Leachman, Dead At 94

January 27, 2021

January 27, 2021

Cloris Leachman, Oscar and Emmy winning actress, has died at the age of 94 from natural causes at her home...

Iconic Talk Show Host Larry King, An LGBTQ Ally, Dies At 87

January 23, 2021

January 23, 2021

Larry King, the iconic talk show host and LGBTQ ally died on Saturday Jan. 23rd.  A statement was posted on...