Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of “Please Like Me.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
Claire’s back and with it comes some of my favorite dynamics and she, Josh and Tom all work wonderfully against one another, both as main antagonists and support systems. I love Claire, and I’ve always enjoyed Caitlin Stasey’s portrayal of the character, and she get’s a bunch of interesting and fun things to play with in this episode.
The majority of the episode, on the whole, is rather simplistic. Adele, one of their beloved chickens, is in fact a rooster, which means that they cannot keep it. They can either give it to a nearby farm, who will likely kill it, or they can kill it themselves with the belief that they’ll take better care of Adele before the chopping block.
In an instance of TV teaches me things, I went to google since I had no idea why they couldn’t keep the rooster and apparently it’s because they’re mean and they don’t just crow once, they typically start crowing at daybreak all the way to nightfall.
It makes a little more sense why the rooster in question would find himself at the end of the episode in a traffic cone.
It’s another instance of the show taking a relatively inconsequential life event and building moments around it, with one of the biggest, potentially game changing ones being that Arnold doesn’t think he and Josh should be monogamous. He believes that the couples who are always end up unhappy and that their set up could lead to more freedom and less boredom between the two.
I’m going to place a slightly, unpopular opinion out there, and say that Arnold is far from my favorite character, and, in all honesty, out of the ones currently living at Josh’s, he’s the one I’d most readily give the boot. I can’t say I enjoyed him this week, and I thought his talks about monogamy and not wanting to be exclusive with Josh were rather insensitive, particularly coming from someone who knows just how debilitating insecurity and anxiety can be. For him to tell Josh that if he meets someone better than him, tough, with no real ounce of sarcasm or humor, was unapologetically rude. It would be an interesting narrative for the show to explore, but not if they’re going to have one half of the couple behave with such little regard to the others feelings.
Claire is the catalyst to the two other big moments of the episode, the first being that she’s not very nice to Ella, something that Ella notices. Ella vents to Tom, in a brilliantly shot scene and one performed beautifully by Emily Barclay, that she can’t stand that Claire is being rude to her but that mostly she can’t stand that she’s annoyed by it, that she’s even more annoyed that Claire’s pretty, which she points out shouldn’t matter. It’s a raw, scathing and honest look at how girls are forced to compete with one another, and how it’s something so indoctrinated in our nature that even when we grow to the age that we realize it’s bullshit it’s still difficult to wholly grow out of it.
The other moment comes when Claire is running with Josh, mostly to vent and wants him to promise not to joke when she tells him something. She talks about how lonely she’s been, how when in Germany she went a three day period of not talking to anyone. She mentions that she was thrilled when a store clerk was so sweet to her that she kept going back, buying produce she couldn’t cook for anyone. How, she asks, was it that going abroad was a bad decision for her? It’s what adults do to improve upon themselves, it’s a good plan she says. But, Josh counters, maybe it’s not a good plan, it’s just a plan that sounds good to others who don’t know the reality of the situation, who don’t know just how lonely Claire was.
Claire however doesn’t want honesty, she wants Josh to humor her which he won’t, because he’s Josh, and she tells him her big bombshell, that she’s pregnant, she needs to get an abortion, she refuses to feel bad about and that Josh needs to go with her to the clinic because he’s the best she’s got. It’s a big moment, played wonderfully by Stasey and then, life moves forward, and they keep up on their run.
Now back to the rooster.
Poor Adele has a few isolated last days and when the group comes together to do the deed, which involves putting the rooster in the cone so it can’t move, with it’s head sticking out so they can cut the head off, Tom seem’s to be the only one to really understand their situation, saying that in the past when they’ve had plans like this, they’ve never actually gone through with them.
Josh is holding the knife, ready to do the deed but keeps failing to do so to the point where Claire takes the knife and does it for him and the moments leading up to this scene are some of the more stressful the show has ever done and it was all over a rooster. Can you imagine these characters doing this in season one?
That ending. When Tom started singing the lyrics to Adele’s “Someone Like You”, I was expecting almost unbearable secondhand embarrassment. But then, the rest of the characters joined in, one by one until they were all joyfully shouting out the lyrics to one of the most addicting songs of recent years. If I were to describe strictly the plot of the scene to someone who has never seen an episode of the series, it would sound positively ludicrous, and in all honesty, as someone who was watching it it seemed odd as well, but damn it if it doesn’t work. They’re all bummed that they had to kill their rooster Adele, and they don’t quite know how to deal with it, especially as Adele now lies dead and baked into dinner on the table in front of them. So they sing. It’s a moment of goofy exuberance and it works.
I will call anyone who says that didn’t want to be invited to that dinner party a liar. I sure as hell did.