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:

Dr Ken: Dave’s Valentine – Ken Meets Community (Recap/Review)

In Dr. Ken this week, Dave’s Valentine focusses on the kids, Pat and Damona’s continuing “it’s complicated” relationship, Topher and Julie and Dr. Ken meets Community as Joel McHale and Danny Pudi turn up as guest stars.

SUZY NAKAMURA, KEN JEONG, JOEL MCHALE

In Dr  Ken this week, Dave’s Valentine focusses on:  The kids, Pat and Damona’s continuing “it’s complicated” relationship,  Topher and Julie. In this episode  Dr Ken meets Community as Joel McHale and Danny Pudi turn up as guest stars.  Pudi plays Topher (Dr. Julie’s often mentioned but never seen boyfriend)  and McHale is the lawyer who tried to take Ken to the cleaners, and failed,  and also father of Dave’s crush.

Dave wants to ask the “ambulance chaser’s” daughter to the Valentine’s Day dance. Ken and Allison provide guidance that differs in content and Molly steps in to help.  Later, when Dave (Albert Tsai) gets Emma to say yes, her father then forbids the boy to approach her at the school event. 

At the start of the show, Pat (David Foley) and Damona (Tisha Campbell-Martin) continue their oddly apt relationship and the hospital administrator reports their liaisons to Irene from human resources; repeatedly and embarrassingly.  Both of them, however, rush to tell Irene that they are not “dating.” 

Later, Pat invites his new squeeze out for a liquid libation during  the upcoming weekend, which Damona reminds him is Valentine’s Day.  In keeping with his weirdly suggestive way of speaking, Pat refers to it as VD, much to Damona’s irritation.

TISHA CAMBELL-MARTIN, DAVE FOLEY, JOY JACOBSON

At Dave’s school, Ken bumps into Ross Kirkland “the valley’s sleaziest lawyer” and the two swap insults with Ross picking on Ken’s size and bragging that he has his own island:

“Kitchen Island!”

Before the two antagonists meet, Ken talks Dave through “walking the walk” and on how to ask Emma out:

“Are you a parking ticket? Cause you got ‘fine’ written all over you.”

Before the school action,  Julie reveals that her Valentine’s Day party is now a President’s Day one  as Topher (Pudi) has cancelled at the last minute.

Dave learns that Emma has been banned from dancing with him at the school dance.  Ken and Allison talk about the problem and Ken verbally attacks his wife’s lasagna.

Back at Welltopia, Clark (Jonathan Slavin) reveals he has a hot date on “VD.”   He also warns Damona about getting involved in the Topher/Julie romance. Molly takes Dave over to the lawyer’s house in an attempt  to help with the Emma (Isabella Kai Riceproblem. Once there she falls hard for the older brother of Dave’s almost date.

Standout Moments:

The “presidents” sexual innuendo between Damona and Pat:

“A sitting president? That’s just disrespectful.”

Ken’s three C’s talk to Dave which is the polar opposite of the one given to Molly (Krista Marie Yu).

Molly’s advice to Dave:

“If you listen to anyone, listen to mom…then again, look who she ended up with…”

ALBERT TSAI, KEN JEONG

The “baller strut”  that Ken shows Dave and then the boy’s re-creation of it.

Dr Julie’s “Memory sheriff line.”

The interaction between Ken and Ross, specifically the on-line school gag.

Jonathan Slavin’s “Tony’s” story.

Damona ripping Topher when he shows up at the party and Clark showing up to help save the day.

JONATHAN SLAVIN, KATE SIMSES, DANNY PUDI

The whole Molly and Ross’ son on the couch scene.

Overall Thoughts:

There was a real feel-good moment when Clark arrives to help Julie withstand the Topher-stare.  The two “Park” kids were great in this episode, Dave and Molly both appearing to be similarly afflicted when bowled over by the opposite sex was very funny.

Visually, the whole “kid” gag between McHale and Ken Jeong worked brilliantly. The Community actor is six feet four inches tall. Added to McHale’s already formidable  height was a hairstyle that gave Joel an extra three inches, making him look like a giant next to Ken.

At the end of the show, when Molly is caught with Ross’s son, the boy runs (at Molly’s suggestion) proving that even at five feet five inches tall, a father is still terrifying to a teenage boy.

Dr Ken continues to provide consistent comedy with characters that deliver. Pat and Damona have become the show’s newest double act and the two Park children have now solidified into a cohesive comic unit. Both Albert Tsai and Krista Marie Yu exude a believable sibling chemistry while still popping the comedy chain.

Ken: “Hello Gorgeous.”

Dave: “Hello.”

 

This ABC comedy airs on Fridays and has yet to misfire on any episode. Ken Jeong, apart from managing to kill it each and every week, has melded brilliantly with Suzy Nakamura who plays his wife Allison.  The cast work as an effective ensemble that all bring something to the comedic table.

Tune in and bliss out.