Is It Possible That Difficult People Is Too New York?
And other not-so-burning questions about the show's second season.
Writers, viewers, TV executives -- they love shows set in New York. And TV gives you a bunch of New Yorks. It can be sparkly and glamorous like on Sex And The City or grimy and dark like on Mr. Robot. It can be a fitting backdrop for nearly any story. But how much New York can American audiences really take? This is a question that Difficult People is leading the charge in answering, intentionally or not.
The Hulu comedy, which stars Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner as fictionalized versions of themselves, is so entrenched in the happenings of the five boroughs (but mostly Manhattan) that it seems as if it is made for the enjoyment of New Yorkers alone. Don't get me wrong, I love this show. As someone who only moved to NYC a year ago, I'm still just ecstatic that I understand the references. But extended jokes about the PATH train and Suffolk County and Brooklyn fads might not work on a national level.
How much New York is too much New York for a single show to take on?
There are plenty of shows that take place in New York -- arguably too many -- but I'm starting to think there may be a finite amount of New York life you can squish into a half-hour comedy. Lots of shows that take place in New York have an episode or two that really dives into specific parts of city living. Broad City had the "St. Marks" episode. How I Met Your Mother had the "Subway Wars" episode. And Girls has, well, the whole first season, really. But, most of the time, these shows just happen to be in New York without it being integral to the plot. Having every episode be a New York-centric episode seems like a risky move.
On the other hand, niche television programming is really having a moment right now. Why can't there be a show written by and for New Yorkers? That's an audience of over 8 million people (pending a Hulu subscription). Maybe Klausner and Eichner are on to something.
How can I find New York's worst cabaret?
In this week's episode, "Candles," Billy and Julie find what they deem to be "the worst cabaret" in NYC, "Searching for My Jake Ryan: How My Sixteen-Year-Old Boyfriend Ruined My Life, A Journey in Song," as part of Julie's birthday celebration. This tradition is wonderful and one that I would like to incorporate into my own life. Now, where can I find access to a list of one-woman shows in the tri-state area?
Are we over New Yorkers as characters?
They're selfish and negative and ruthless and ambitious and dripping in cynicism. We got it. The difference on DP is that these characters know how awful they are and, instead of struggling with it or trying to be better, they just revel in it. It's not like watching Hannah Horvath behaving terribly and then being completely obtuse about why her friends seem to hate her. Billy and Julie take pride in their meanness. It's oddly refreshing to see.
Could Andrea Martin maybe be the true star of this show?
Her role as Julie's mom/terrible psychiatrist has really blossomed in the show's second season. Watching her character drunkenly sing karaoke and then chastise a group of NYU students (an urge you will understand if you ever stumble onto MacDougal Street) was a season highlight.
Will there be a third season?
With Season 2 winding down, I'm already starting to hope that Hulu renews DP. It's far and away the best show they've got and it would be a bummer to see it go. Watching Eichner grow into a real character -- I loved him on Parks and Recreation, but Craig wasn't a very fleshed-out role -- has been great to watch. Who cares if it's too New York? The same could've been said for Seinfeld and I think we'd all agree that show did all right for itself. This show is good, mean fun and I hope it stays around for a nice long while.