FX presented a panel for the half-hour adult comedy series Better Things season three for the Television Critics Association. A clip of the new season showed Sam (Pamela Adlon) taking her daughters go-karting, reluctantly, and crashing into the railing. Other episodes in the upcoming season include “Toilet,” about Sam’s colonoscopy, and many more ways in which Sam tries to mother her three daughters.
Adlon spoke with reporters further after the panel about the upcoming season. She also followed up on her New Yorker profile in which she discussed experiencing abuse in the industry, and the changes that are happening with the #MeToo movement.
Better Things season three premieres February 28, 2019 at 10pm ET/PT on FX.
I liked the scene when your daughter asks for money, and you say, “You just yelled at me after I got these things for you and now you’re asking for money?” Is that a good way to teach kids how to be more diplomatic dealing with people, whether their parents or anyone?
Pamela Adlon: “Yeah, it’s kind of giving a criminal a blueprint how to do it.”
Do they get it at that age or do they just have to grow up?
Pamela Adlon: “I really think that a lot of it falls on deaf ears because they just want what they want when they want it, but at least I can try.”
As a mom, are you like your own mother?
Pamela Adlon: “I’m not as, I want to say, stubborn. My mom is incredibly opinionated and she’s fiercely loyal and loving. So I hope I can be like her. She’s just an angel.”
Is she proud of all you’ve accomplished?
Pamela Adlon: “She’s so proud. She’s incredibly proud. Here’s a great example of my mom. I watched the Phil episode with her when Phil breaks her foot on purpose and she’s in the hospital. Any stuff about Phil that you would think people would be like, ‘Oh, Pamela, what does your mother think?’ She laughs. What can I tell you? She’s got a very dry, Monty Python way of looking at things.”
You’ve talked about going through some shit early in your career. Do you feel like your children are going into a different kind of society where they will be treated better, with more respect?
Pamela Adlon: “I absolutely do. I feel like it’s very interesting because there are still places and people and workplaces that have to be aired out. So it’s a good time for everybody to regulate and to just step outside of where they were and step back in and make a new environment.”
How do you deal with people who think Better Things is your daughters’ real life?
Pamela Adlon: “I’m so glad that you asked me that. Here’s the thing. It’s frustrating for me personally, but it’s okay. For example, the thing that happens in one episode, one of my daughters will be like, ‘That happened to me, Mom.’ I’m like, ‘No, bitch, that happened to me in middle school.’
Everybody’s going to claim ownership to things and others, including myself, are going to be like that’s not me. The truth of the matter is I’m not making a reality show. I’m making a scripted show that started with the bones of my life in the past because my kids are all older. There’s little things that are taken from life and there’s lots of things that are taken from my childhood, my friends’ childhood, and a lot from my kids in a way that gives them a voice. It’s not completely, you know what I mean? So when Olivia says, ‘When you’re portraying somebody…’ I’m like okay, we’re not doing Helen Keller. We know exactly from top to bottom what’s going on. These are people, you know what I mean? They’re all getting fleshed out by these three girls right now.”
Do you have other parents say, “Why doesn’t she put her foot down with these girls?”
Pamela Adlon: “Here’s the thing. I’ve been accused, or Sam’s been accused of, being a passive parent which I kind of take offense too because she’s there all the time. That’s the way I am. That’s how I relate to her. But if anybody’s critical of her parenting, they should come see me because she works so hard and it’s a thankless job. It really is.”
Do you have to reframe your own parenting?
Pamela Adlon: “All the time.”
Do you write it the way you wish it had gone?
Pamela Adlon: “All the time.”
What is your greatest challenge as a parent?
Pamela Adlon: “Being a parent.”
How much of the pain Sam goes through in the “Toilet” episode did you actually go through in real life?
Pamela Adlon: “You mean the prep? Who here has had a colonoscopy? Yes!”
Pamela Adlon: “You haven’t? So I just gave you a fun cartoon, right? It’s fun to watch. I’ve gone through colon pain. It’s inner gastric distress.”
Did you end up having fun go-karting?
Pamela Adlon: “We did. We really had an amazing day. We had an amazing time.”
Did you ever think your career would be at this point?
Pamela Adlon: “No, never. Not in a million years.”
Is that a good thing?
Pamela Adlon: “It’s an amazing thing. I can’t even believe it. But I could never have such grand ambitions. Also, I think that’s from the time that I came from, being a woman, and that whole misogynistic, you know. I should be out to pasture by now, so this is kind of a miracle.”
Do you see change in the industry? Is it less misogynistic?
Pamela Adlon: “Well, yeah, I’m here to make sure of it. Yeah.”