I super love Amy Poehler, and she is an Executive Producer of a new Hulu original series "Difficult People," so I gave it a shot. I couldn't even get through the first episode. The main characters aren't remotely likable, there isn't anything to make you want to root for them in the slightest, and they aren't quite cool enough to get to that feeling of "love to hate them."
|No, they don't.|
It’s like when you have a villain. You have The Joker, Hydra, Regina George. These people are so terrible, you hate them. You’re meant to hate them, even when you are meant to empathize with their beginnings (like Two Face!). They come in and they accept and embrace their terribleness and then they unleash it on people. Some are specific, like Hydra mostly targeting SHIELD, and some hate and terrorize everyone (*ahem* Regina George).
But these two main characters are just very stereotypically narcissistic. They are rude, they hate everyone, they have zero accountability or sense of decorum in any situation. The male character just up and leaves in the middle of his shift as a waiter because he doesn’t feel like being there. It’s not even funny, unfortunately.
And funny would have saved it. Maybe it’s like Parks & Rec, which started off kind of boring and not funny for the first few episodes, and then season 2 picked up and it just kept getting better and funnier as the characters figured out who they were. Unfortunately for "Difficult People," I will never know if this is true, because I couldn’t even get through the entirety of the very first one. My friend Desiree (check out her business here!) told me she watched all 4 episodes currently available, and it didn't get better after the first 2. Her exact words are "They are unbearable. Not funny, not interesting. Nothing is really going on. I'm so disappointed."
Here’s the thing. I understand that the show is about narcissists and trying to show what the world is like to people who truly believe it revolves around them. The LA Times discusses this theme, and says, “The charm of "Difficult People" is that it refuses to deal in charm.” But unlike the author of that article, Mary McNamara, I don’t really see how “self-centeredness has become not just predictable, but synonymous with adorable.” I do not agree that the abusive and painful nature of real narcissism is worth watching. As the title states, the show is about Difficult People. But why should I spend my time cringing from the main characters and feeling bad for their victims? Isn't the whole point of TV to be entertaining, sometimes thought-provoking, but mostly a story in which we can escape the unrelenting realness of being a responsible adult in the real world?
In what way is it entertaining to watch people bully their way through life expecting everything to go their way and then getting mad at the world when it doesn’t? If that was what I wanted to watch, I’d go get a toddler. At least in a toddler it is an understandable and somewhat acceptable way to learn how life works. A toddler doesn’t get what they want, and that kid cries. But it learns that they don’t always get what they want. Instead of watching a funny show meant for entertainment value, we’re left with an example of what happens when you never tell your child ‘no’ and allow them to believe that the world owes them something just for being in it.
As someone who is often lumped into the "millenial generation" and all of which that entails, I can understand the hate somewhat. Not that I believe most of what people assume about Millenials to be true, anyway. After all, I'm considered one and I manage to be an upstanding contributing member of society without narcissistic tendencies and I hate "participation trophies." Why would we watch a world in which these characters were always told they were a special snowflake, that they deserve all the best in life without working for it, and at best, never taught empathy or how to be polite?
Variety author Brian Lowry likens it to a Seinfeld vibe in some ways, with “the hardened shells that New Yorkers develop to navigate their way through such a densely packed city.” And he claims “watching [sic] was no chore at all.” I do not agree with this, and it feels like more of a fluffy review than McNamara’s more intense and detailed explanation and review delving into the reasons why these people are the way they are, and discussing why this show makes sense the way it is, along with her reasons why the narcissism is displayed this way.
In the end, I watch TV to relax, and be entertained, and unfortunately, this show allowed neither.
Has anyone else seen this show? Am I simply missing something (perhaps the needed acerbic sense of humor)? What did you think?