Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of “Please Like Me.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
“I liked to be liked.” -Tom
Please Like Me is all about every day individuals doing the best they can to muddle through life’s hurdles, whether they be small and inconsequential, or potentially life changing, and they’re all characters who look for happiness in other, in friendships, romantic partners or family. “Croquembouche” has Tom, Hannah and Josh all attending Arnold’s birthday celebration at his parents, where he plans to come out to them. The problems leading up are relatively small; Josh has to hide his cake and Hannah simply doesn’t want to go, but there are bigger issues that pop up throughout the episodes, such as Tom dealing with being paid off to not testify against his boss in a sexual harassment case, or Arnold dealing with overcoming his anxiety to tell his parent’s the truth. Please Like Me never writers the big problems to be any grander in scope than the smaller ones, treating each moment like an every day beat, much to the episode’s benefit.
There’s a lot of small moments that were mined for comedy this week, such as curt small talk between Hannah and Arnold’s mother, or Josh worrying that he was going to have to pretend to be straight, but the big, comedic moment for this critic came from a middle of the episode scene where Josh sticks a ring on his finger.
Okay friends, I’m going to give everyone a bit of a life lesson, pro-tip here in regards to the upcoming scene.
Josh, being Josh, is awkward and seems to always find him in cringe-inducing moments that make me die of second hand embarrassment. In “Croquembouche” this see’s him putting on Arnold’s mom’s wedding ring after she’s taken it off to do dishes, just to be funny, and it get’s stuck. I don’t know about you, but this is a nightmarish type of situation for me, the kind that would have me likely keeping my hand in a fist or in my pocket for the rest of the night and letting the person whose ring I stole believe that it had been lost. I’m not terrible, just terribly awkward.
Josh, admirably, is much more upfront with his mistakes than I am, and straight out admits to his blunder to Arnold and his mom. Thus begins a series of events where everyone get’s involved in trying to get the ring off, including soap, brute force and ice water, with the last finally wriggling it free. Here’s where the life lesson comes in. During this scene I yelled out “use Windex”, only for my sister to walk in a few moments later and shout the same thing.
Windex will get a stuck ring off your finger. Your welcome.
My secondhand embarrassment aside, this was a hilarious scene and one that zeroes in on what makes Please Like Me such a relateable comedy. It takes the mundanity of life, such as taking of rings to do dishes, or goofily sticking rings on your fingers, into moments of comedic value. It’s not a big moment, but it’s one that everyone watching will be able to understand and feel the flustered frustration of Josh.
I love how nothing about Arnold’s coming out went according to plan, with him believing that it would be a huge shocker, and instead being surprised to learn that both his mother and brother knew and simply never brought it up. His brother found gay porn on his computer while his mother (charmingly as someone who related to this) read Arnold’s diary. It’s his dad who’s the only one who has to learn to adapt to this news, and he isn’t thrilled. However, it’s not the worst reaction that Arnold could have dreamed up, so at the end of the episode, he, Josh, Tom and Alan sit on the top of the apartment, relatively content with how their day went.
The episode’s other way of addressing real life is with Hannah’s story, continuing with Please Like Me’s dedication portraying mental health with the respect and delicacy it deserves, without ever stripping the characters of their agency. Hannah and Rose are having a conversation at the end of the episode where Rose is contemplating getting off of her medication, saying she’s found herself at the start of a possible romantic relationship and is worried the medication will neutralize her to the point of being unable to tell whether or not she has feelings for him or not. Hannah quickly tells Rose not to, saying that she recently did, thinking the same thing and she’s now “fucked”. Hannah tells her that it’s absolutely horrible, that she has begun hitting herself again (to Rose’s shock she quips ‘you tried to kill yourself, I tenderize’ keeping with the shows humor. She says that they need their medication to function, and that it doesn’t take away any of their enjoyment, it just keeps them healthy and healthy, and in Rose’s case, alive potentially.
It further develops the friendship between Rose and Hannah and again showcases just how tastefully Josh Thomas goes about tackling this sort of content. Absolutely beautiful scene and one of the episode’s best.
Three episodes in to season three shows Please Like Me beginning to sink it’s teeth into the melancholy touched comedy that I love about the series. These character’s aren’t all perfect, and in like Arnold’s coming out, not every moment is going to do as well as they’d hope, but they deal with the punches and move on, usually with a joke or sarcastic aside, and enjoy the company their with rather than dwell in the negatives.