What happens when Josh is the most well-adjusted character in the series? For the first time in the amount of time that we’ve known him, Josh seems to have his life together. He has a job, that he even enjoys that involves cooking, he has a stable relationship with his boyfriend, he has the ability to lend out money rather than ask for it, his mom is out of the hospital and also stable, and he’s even taken gluten out of his diet. He’s happy and healthy and just wants to have fun while the rest of the friends and family surrounding him seem to be struggling with their own personal issues.
Hannah sparks the most alarm, as the episode opens to her smashing a phone into her foot, hitting herself in a form of self-harm. She spends most of the episode putting on a front of normalcy as Rose throws herself head first into readjusting into life in her post hospital stay. They go out to a bar where Hannah more than anything is attempting to distract herself, and I need to make sure to mention just how good Hannah Gadsby is in this role, bringing such a sardonic but vulnerable touch to her lines.
Tom meanwhile is having some sort of loneliness induced crisis, taking it as a personal offense when Tom wants to offer bread at the dinner they’re having with Arnold and what struck me the most (other than how genuinely distressed I was over Tom and Josh fighting at all) was how sad Tom seems, even if it seems to resolve itself throughout the episode. Josh and Tom are my favorite relationship in the show, with the two actors working their real life friendship and the ease it’s built in their dialogue, and seeing them fighting is never as fun as seeing them getting along and poking fun at one another. So while things aren’t completely fixed in terms of Tom’s happiness, he does move on from complaining about bread to building a mini city out of cardboard, and one of the funniest gags of the episode is to see the makeshift city grow, with Arnold, Josh and eventually Alan joining in to help. I don’t know what it says about me, but watching it all unfold I couldn’t help but think “that seems like a fun way to spend a night at home.”
Alan meanwhile is dealing with the real life crumbling of his relationship with Mae when she tells him that she slept with someone when she was still pregnant. She tells him she regrets it but the damage is done, and Alan grows increasingly irrational until he’s out swimming in their pool despite the cold weather, so Alan is dumped at Josh’s for the night. Alan is a character that has, sometimes unfairly, be characterized in unflattering manners, playing the slightly less cool parent to Rose, who Josh has often been dismissive of in the past. This time though, Josh tries sensitivity on, even if that means making him take part in a bizarre moment where he pretends to be Arnold’s dad, while Arnold comes out to him.
Arnold, like Alan, is dealing with some weightier issues, having decided to come out officially to his parents, sick and tired of hiding both his sexuality and relationship with Josh. Being his anxiety ridden self, this isn’t easy and Josh has the bright idea (as I mentioned) to put Alan in the position of Arnold’s Dad so that Arnold can get some practice in. Josh and Tom heighten the moment to up the drama as well as their enjoyment, so Arnold is stuck singing “Chandelier” by Sia and Keegan Joyce is very game in this moment, giving Arnold a moment where he’s stripped of his typical anxieties and uncomfortable nature, singing his heart out in an admittedly strange situation. There’s a part of me that thinks this was just an excuse for Josh Thomas to get to use a Sia song in the show, it also is sold with remarkable subtly by David Roberts, as Alan sells the moment, telling Arnold how proud he is, his emotion clearly genuine, if not inspired by the song itself, but the situation at home he’s just left.
It’s a sweet, character heavy episode of the show after the premier which so strongly focused on Josh and his romantic plight with Arnold. Now we’ve got the gang all roped in and Josh, somehow in the middle of it, the only well adjusted one…for the time being. I continue to wait for the cards to fall, for something bad to happen, and I’ll be very happy if I end up being wrong. In the meantime, I will take great enjoyment in Josh’s continued confidence and stability while he shoots out snarky barbs at the rest of the characters.
As long as Tom and Josh don’t fight about gluten anymore!
Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of “Please Like Me.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.