Difficult People: Carter – Birdman (Review)

Difficult People Julie and Billy selling tickets

Difficult People “Carter”  starts off making a number of references to  television shows.  It moves into paying tribute to reality TV, “Real Housewives” no less and segues into a massive homage to (or a mickey take of)  the underwear scene in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

This episode was a scathing look at “tourist” theatre goers in the Big Apple. The show’s open has Julie and Billy handing out fliers for their “fringe” production “Swiftical the Musical.”

It is the New York Fringe Festival and these are touting their show. Two people queuing up for “Hamilton” tickets are told by Billy that Lin-Manuel Miranda has endorsed their show.

“Who’s Lin-Manuel Miranda?”

The female tourist asks this before repeating that they really want to see “Hamilton.” It is irony in its purest form. A jibe at the culturally illiterate who want to be part of the culturally astute without the knowledge.

As the pair continue to hand out leaflets, they celebrate their Jewishness by assuming the hayseeds lining up for Broadway tickets are all non-Jewish people who have never been near a Jew before.

A ticket tout comes up and asks the duo if they like comedy.  Billy gets the line of the night with his response:

“We used to, but now we do it.”

Julie and Billy’s show is a cat themed musical based around Taylor Swift. Swift serves the pair with an injunction banning them from putting on the show. They then decide, with some unacknowledged input from Arthur,  to just rename the show  “Carter.”

They  will keep all the melodies and rewrite the lyrics to reference former President Jimmy Carter. Matthew is fired and then hired. His response to each is to scream.

Marilyn “Gwyneth Paltrow’s” her way onto “The Real Housewives of New York City” as psychiatric consultant and ends up being part of the show.  “Carter” is sold out.

Denise and Nate are hurriedly preparing for 400 diners in their restaurant  and cannot watch Matthew in the play. While preparing vegetables they talk. Denise tells Nate that she wants to adopt. Nate suggests Matthew but Denise says he is too old.

“Carter” goes over fairly well, despite the audience leaving in dribs and drabs. Matthew’s entrance generates a small rush to the exit.  Marilyn brings the cameras, and two of the  “stars” of  “The Real Housewives of New York City” to the show.

The show within a show is funny.   Billy’s rapping is actually as impressive as it is amusing.  After the show Lin-Manuel Miranda comes in and tells Billy to remove his name from their fliers. (As part of a subplot thread involving Nate, Miranda apologizes for stealing his, Nate’s, rhyming book report in the fourth grade.)

Denise and Nate tell Matthew that they will be adopting a child and he does not take it well. Leaping up, the young man starts crying, “No,” and rushes out of the venue in his underwear.

The sight of Matthew blundering down Times Square to drums, in his tidy whities, was just brilliant. Not only was it funny but the clear allusion to “Birdman” was just perfect.

In the film  Michael Keaton is a former Hollywood star who is seeking to legitimize himself by performing on stage.  Julie and Billie are also seeking to legitimize themselves via the stage.  This could well be a series high for Difficult People. It seriously cannot get much better than a homage to Keaton’s Times Square “brief” walk.

Difficult People airs Tuesdays on Hulu.  This series  keeps on killing it each and every week. Catch this show and catch some clever comedy.



Guest starring Lin-Manuel Miranda as himself, LuAnn de Lesseps and Sonja Morgan as themselves.

Difficult People: 36 Candles – Sharon Stone and Drunken Birthdays (Review)

Difficult People poster

Difficult People “36 candles” continues to knock it out of the park in terms of comedy. Last week’s “special episode was hysterically funny, but this week sees the funny being provided “across the board.”  Billy with his DeNeil Tinder (Sean Phillips),  Arthur and his “manly” transformation and Julie’s  drunken birthday party are all high on the comedy chart.

We also learn what “Sharon Stoning” is.

Arthur accidentally scores on the basketball court providing his PBS team with what appears to be their only win.  He is instantly transformed into a “man’s man” and drinks brewskies while watching sports.  Arthur now sees himself as an athlete. Later in the show he volunteers himself as the most athletic member of Julie’s birthday party.

Billy finally meets “DeNeil Tinder” after carrying on an online “romance” for months.  The two hit it off brilliantly and later, after sex, they are caught out by Billy’s boss Denise (Gabourey Sidibe). DeNeil, it turns out, is Denise’ cousin.  She invites Billy to a meal with her two aunts. 

Billy is horrified to learn about the meal. He has issues with “feelings” and finally decides to “Sharon Stone it.” Sharon Stoning means to fake an emotion if you  cannot really feel it.

At the dinner, the two normally vicious women adore Billy and are supportive of his relationship with DeNeil. Denise is furious.

Eventually the two come unstuck when Billy becomes too “soppy” with his emotions. The breakup is helped by Matthew (Cole Escolargate crashing Julie’s party. He tells DeNeil that Billy was faking his feelings for him, in other words, he Sharon Stoned DeNeil.

Julie and her mother spend a day celebrating as a pre-birthday buildup to the actual day. The two women argue at first, Marilyn left a young Julie at Benihana’s and it scarred her for life.  Her mother argues she was only gone for a moment and she came back at once  when she realized what she had done.

The Kessler women eat at Marilyn’s country club and get a free spa day.  At the spa, they are given complimentary champagne as Chloë Sevigny has treated the entire American Horror Story cast to a spa day. Lady Gaga is not there.

The women get drunk on champagne and any ill feelings are left in the bottom of a champagne flute. Later they go put a paper bag of dog poo on an old adversary’s doorstep and set it alight.  They learn that the woman does not live there any longer and a complete stranger stomps the poo filled burning bag with her foot.

Marilyn takes Julie back to the scene of the year’s old crime, Benihana’s. Arthur, DeNeil, Billy, Julie and Marilyn are  there. As Julie’s mother begins a long rambling speech, she excuses herself. Julie goes to the restroom and throws up.

She meets her childhood idol Kate Pierson and gushingly tells the disinteresting celeb how much she meant to her growing up.  

Meanwhile, back at the table, Arthur gets up to cook some food and falls on the grill. DeNeil and Billy rush out because of Matthew and Marilyn scrapers when “dog poo” woman turns up and points her out.

Julie returns from the toilet to find everyone has gone and she is alone, “again.” Cue flashback sequences where  little Julie chucks away her party hat and sets at the table alone.

Having hated the first season of Difficult People it is hard to believe that now the antics and misfortunes of both Julie and Billy are unmissable.  Their close circle of family, friends and co-workers are addictive to say the least.
Matthew being angry that he now has to do deliveries rather than Billy and getting mugged by prepubescent children right outside the door was hysterically funny.  Even the trans waitress (Forgive us LGBTQ if we have wrongly identified this character. We know not what we do…) shouting out about no one else working at the diner was funny. *Normally she just irritates.*

While this episode was not as funny, overall, as “Patches” it came very close.  Everyone got a chance to be funny.  Even Denise’s two aunts, a clear homage to The Simpsons’ Patty and Selma, were funny.

Difficult People has become a Hulu classic that should not be missed.  The show airs Tuesdays on Hulu.


Guest star –

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