Difficult People: Hashtag Cats – The Producers and Hannibal Lector (Review)


Difficult People poster

It is all too easy to fall in love with the second season of Difficult People.  How can you not love a comedy series that references Mel Brooks’ The Producers (“I was certain you’d had a stroke,” says Julie, “Of genius,” replies Billy.).  “Hashtag Cats” also lampoons Hannibal Lector. Joel McHale is cannibal “personal trainer” who is fattens up clients for him and his other “trainers” to eat.

Just brilliant.

It does not hurt that the two main characters, Billy Epstein and Julie Kessler are self absorbed “wannabe” who also  come across as slightly shallow pseudo intellectuals.

For example: Billy books he and his bestie Julie on a late night alternative comedy show. They kill it. Discussing it later, Billy says he was inspired by Shonda Rhimes‘ book “The Year of Yes.”

“I can’t believe you read it,” says Julie

“I read the Amazon review,” Billy replies, “I was inspired.”

Apart from homages to The Producers and Hannibal this episode brings up the issue of having “paid friends.” In the words, can one really be friends with someone they work for or employ”  A side issue deals with having a gay BFF who is really bi-sexual.

The main plot consists of Billy and Julie doing so well that Method Man comes over to tell the duo that he wants to work with them. The rapper from Wu-Tang Clan tells them he loves their work.  As he leaves, Julie and Billy both scream, “Method Man is our first famous friend!”

Julie and Marilyn have a falling out when Julie stands her mother up for lunch so she can hang out with Billy. Something that happens regularly. Marilyn makes her “gay” hairdresser her new bestie in response.

“Hashtag Cats” is the new stage experience and Julie gets tickets from James on Craigslist.  Billy cannot go as he is seeing his new personal trainer Felix. (“The cartoon  cat with  a bag of  tricks?”  Julie asks Billy in a funny response to his news.  Question: Is Felix the Cat still a thing?)  Matthew hints that he can go, but it is Arthur who will get to see the reboot.

Billy gets the best line of the episode:

“Sasha Grey, so sad to go from doing porn to something as degrading as “Entourage.”

Method Man teams up with Billy and Julie to make a pilot pitch to the networks.  The two besties suggest a comedy sketch program a’la SNL.

Billy starts his first session with Felix. The training program is  odd but Billy trusts his trainer. Billy then takes on Felix’ meal plan, for free, and his next session is all about eating while exercising.

Julie gets her tickets from “James on Craigslist” and the tickets are fake.  Julie starts a campaign to force James to get her money back. She even goes to see the police.

Billy’s trainer suggests they become friends and invites him to a meal.  Epstein asks if he can invite Julie and Arthur.  The meal has two other trainers there and they are creepy and odd. It is a scene right out of “Hannibal.”

Method Man and his new partners start off at NBC with their first pitch.  There is a great gag with the posters in the waiting room being changed every two seconds. It also starts a long running gag where Julie and Billy keep meeting the NBC VP for programming everywhere.

The trio finally get their show approved on Al Jazeera American Channel who are changing their brand.

After having no luck at the police station, Julie plays the “cancer card” and she tells James that her dying sister was supposed to see the show.

Method Man invites  Billy, Felix, Julie, Arthur, Marilyn and her new BFF to the VIP section at a performance of “Hashtag Cats.” Before the show starts, James comes to make up for selling fake tickets and Julie tells him it is too late.

Their  new partner learns of the cancer  lie and kicks them all out of the VIP section and breaks off the partnership. As the group leaves,  the police rush the theatre entrance and arrest Felix.

Sadly, Julie was right about Felix really liking Billy. Unfortunately he saw Epstein as veal…

Difficult People just keeps getting funnier and funnier. These two “hopeful” performers are exquisite in their tunnel vision and extreme focus on self.

Kudos to Joel McHale who kills it in this episode.

The series airs Tuesdays on Hulu.  If funny is your thing, check this one out.

CAST:

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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