Difficult People: Hulu Round Two (Review)


guest star Nathan Lane

Last year Mike’s Film Talk reviewed Difficult People and found the show wanting.  The two main characters were not just annoying, they were vapid and self-centered. After the first two episodes of season one were watched, the series was never viewed again. The show must have done something right as it has returned for a second season. Round two, if you will, and it needed re-viewing to see why.

(Hulu have released the first two episodes of season two as well. This must be the modus operandi for their comedy offerings this year.)

Something apparently happened between those first two episodes of 2015 and the season one finale since  Hulu brought the show back. Not overly bothered at first, we opted to give the new season  a miss until looking at the guest list and seeing a few teaser clips of the show.

Sandra Bernhard? Nathan Lane?  Tina Fey? In terms of guest artists it does not get much better than this.  On top of these two  performers stopping by, other things have changed, or were perhaps never noticed last year when watching  the show’s maiden voyage.

Initially, and on IMDb, the show’s synopsis states that both Julie Kessler (Julie Klausnerand Billie Epstein (Billy Eichnerare 30 something comics. In this season Kessler is a “recapper” (someone who recaps television shows for publication) one step below a reviewer.  Billy is still presumably a comic.

Kessler longs to write for a television show, any television show and wants to crack the industry.  Billy appears to frequent gyms, have sex with someone he meets there and then regret it.

Regardless of who does what for a living, these two individuals (BFFs) are not nearly so irritating as they were last year. This could mean one of two things. Either our humor has evolved or the show’s characters have.

Then too Difficult People has exhibited  moxie in spades. Who else would dare to kill off Nathan Lane?  Or have Kessler banned from Refutz  by its leader (Sandra Bernhard‘s character Lilith Feigenbaum) who fakes a picture of the recapper doing a Nazi salute in a Hitler museum.

The first episode of season two has Kessler trying to get proper writing work on television and Billy meeting jellybean magnate Cecil Jellford (John Mulaney) and doing a riff on Pretty Woman with Epstein as Julia Roberts’ character. 

Jellford is an “old timey”  enthusiast who is also a secret Nazi memorabilia collector. Kessler’s arrival at Cecil’s party results in her ban from Refutz and the truth being revealed about Jellford.

Tina Fey also appears as herself and helps Kessler’s mother Marilyn (Andrea Martin) film her video will. 

Episode two sees the two BFFs plotting to go viral on YouTube with their version of the Ice Bucket Challenge. They film several challenges and then tag celebrities. While walking her dogs, Jessica and Billy bump into Nathan Lane. He initially agrees to help them out and stick his hand in a toilet for charity.

Midway through filming he changes his mind and storms off. Kessler and Epstein launch an angry attack on the performer that later comes back to haunt Julie. Later in the episode  she goes to apply for a bigger rent controlled apartment with Arthur (James Urbaniak). They are voted out by the last member of the panel…Nathan Lane.

After trying to  steal flowers from an Alice In Wonderland statue and damaging it, Kessler  is sentenced to community service in the local prion. Once there she meets Bernie Madoff‘s cell mate who arranges for her to film the “celebrity” prisoner  sticking his right hand in the toilet.

At Billy’s day job, he works for Denise (American Horror Story actress Gabourey Sidibe), they see a news report that Nathan Lane has died as a result of catching a virus from sticking his hand in the toilet. 

The killing off of Lane was surprisingly funny and put this show on a different level than before.  There is also the fact that both Kessler and Epstein have apparently evolved as characters since the last  season.

Hulu bringing back Difficult People  and it being funnier that the first time round has made us revise our earlier opinion of the show.  This is one to watch, not avoid, as it  is actually funny. (Regardless of the IMDb popularity ranking.)

Difficult People airs Tuesdays on Hulu.  Check it out and see what you think.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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