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If even better things await director, writer and actor Pamela Adlon, she's ready for them
The distinctively smoky-voiced talent—who not only stars in this Peabody-winning dramedy, but directs all the episodes and writes most of them—launches her fifth and final season on Monday. Premiering with two new instalments, the season ushers actress and single mom Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon) toward an uncertain future as she continues raising her three daughters (Mikey Madison, Hannah Alligood, Olivia Edward) and dealing with her own, oft-challenging mother (Celia Imrie).
I knew going in that this was the final season, Adlon says. It was a very complicated season to do. It seemed like the world wanted to make me work harder. Part of me thought, ‘Season five! This ship’s gonna fly itself!,’ but it didn’t work out that way. For one, to accommodate British actress Imrie during the pandemic, part of this L.A.-set production was actually filmed in England.
Still, Adlon reflects that it feels exciting to bring Better Things to a close. I’m ready for a new chapter. I could keep telling these stories forever, but five seasons is a pretty good run. Each season, I’ve wanted to wrap it up well, but I never knew if we would be picked up for another season or not. This time, I wanted to make sure that there was some kind of a payoff for the five main characters. I gave it a lot of thought.
As she has throughout the show’s run, Adlon stocks this final round with notable guest stars. Included are Master of None Emmy-winner Lena Waithe, This Is Us Emmy-winner Ron Cephas Jones, Danny Trejo (Machete), children’s-show mentor Marty Krofft (H.R. Pufnstuf), Casey Wilson (Black Monday) and Angela Kinsey (The Office). Among returning guests are Diedrich Bader, Kevin Pollak, Rosalind Chao, Judy Gold, Cree Summer, Alysia Reiner and Mario Cantone.
As satisfied as she is with how Better Things concludes, Adlon doesn’t deny that the farewell process was emotional, though she tried to keep from succumbing to that. I always said, ‘Don’t count the days.’ I didn’t want anybody to count how many we had done or how many we had left. The show is all heart and emotion, but I was just super-focused on keeping the train going.
Now hoping to use her directorial skills on other creators’ shows, Adlon—also a Primetime Emmy winner for her voice work on King of the Hill—believes Better Things will live on in a certain sense. She reasons: You’re ending a union and saying goodbye to these characters, but I feel that they’re so alive, their stories will continue. Or maybe I’m just in denial.
Better Things returns Monday, February 28th at 6 p.m. & 6:45 p.m. (repeating at 8:20 p.m., 9 p.m., 10 p.m. & 10:45 p.m.) on FX Canada