"I hired a prostitute last night, and when she turned up, I hid in the dark. So if you run into any pimps, that's, that's what that is." - Tom
Please Like Me is an Australian show written by and starring comedian Josh Thomas. It's about Josh and his oddball family and friends just living their lives and getting into awkward situations. Aside from being one of the funniest shows I have ever seen, the word I would use to describe it is refreshing. The second hand embarrassment garnered from watching this show surpasses even the most cringeworthy embarrassing Leslie scenes on Parks and Rec, and the fact that a lot of it is built off of Josh's personal stories and stand up makes it even worse. However, one of the most miraculous things about this show is that not a single character is a caricature, represents a trope, or is used as the butt of a joke. Everything is grounded in harsh reality, and even the more outlandish storylines come off as extremely human and real. Outside of the comedy, Please Like Me handles controversial topics such as mental illness, sexuality, abortion, and monogamy so well. Nothing comes off as an after school special on this show; everything is folded cleanly into the fabric of Josh's universe as just another part of everyday life. No one is defined by their mental illnesses or decisions, they're just another facet to each character's story.
I didn't start watching until the first 3 seasons had aired and ended up binge watching the entire show twice in about the span of a month (which really isn't that hard to do since its only 26 episodes altogether). Sometimes a show just grabs you and won't let go, and Please Like Me is most definitely one of them. Every single episode is extremely rewatchable, both to pick up what you missed the first five times as well as to laugh at the same parts over and over again. There is a bit of tonal whiplash throughout the series as it lulls you into a false sense of comedic security and then completely blindsides you with the heartbreaking reality of life, but the comedy and drama work together so well to create one of the most realistic stories on tv ever. Everything is just so genuine, and even the little throwaway moments are given their time to shine because they are so important to the development and relatability of the characters. What's really great is how nothing ever ends up where you think it will based on general tv comedy storyline standards. There is a scene in one episode where Josh get's Arnold's mom's ring stuck on his finger, but it doesn't become a full blown production lasting the remainder of the episode. The scene is still really comical, but everyone reacts like normal people would and then the episode moves on to other things. Josh Thomas has such a unique voice as a writer, and having him and his best friend Tom star in the show lends so much authenticity to the script and their performances.
Throughout the course of the show, every character has been allowed the room to grow and change while still remaining true to the heart of who they are. I actually adore every single main character, what they bring to the show, and how their relationships have evolved over the seasons together. Looking at Josh in the beginning of the show and how he handled his relationship with Geoffrey, it's hard to believe that he could have a real relationship with anyone. However, the progression of his and Arnold's love story was natural and believable and shows just how much Josh matured. The same can also be said about his relationships with each of his parents. Most other shows would have probably kept Alan in the box of disgruntled angry father figure as a source of conflict for both Josh and Rose, but a lot of care was given to his character over the seasons to allow him to show his human side and vulnerability. Everyone is fully fleshed out and human, so even when they make decisions that you don't agree with, you can see where they're coming from and understand their point of view.
Please Like Me is up there with the best slice of life shows I've ever seen, but that doesn't lessen it's importance. It's edgy and controversial, but it has so much heart in it. I mean, what other show has an entire episode dedicated to a group of friends learning how to humanely kill their transgendered chicken? It may sound odd, but it was actually one of the strongest and most touching episodes of the show. Josh Thomas may have started in the stand up comedy world, but his grasp of character development and structuring a story arc is very impressive, especially considering that this is his first show. Please Like Me may seem insecure given its title, but I definitely more than like it and believe that it more than deserves all the praise I've seen heaped upon it.
||Josh, Tom, Arnold, Alan, Ella
||Josh, Alan, Mae, Ella, Arnold
||Eggplant, Truffled Mac and Cheese, Coq Au Vin, Horrible Sandwiches
||Rhubarb and Custard, Ham, Croquembouche, Porridge
||Josh/Arnold, Josh and Tom, Josh and Alan, Tom/Ella, Josh and Claire
||Josh and Tom, Josh/Geoffrey, Josh/Arnold, Josh and Alan, Alan/Mae, Tom/Ella