Start from Hello, Old Friend: In Loving Memory of Julie Klausner’s “Difficult People”
Being one of the two shows I actively make an effort to watch, the cancellation of the brilliant Difficult People is devastating for me.Biting gay men and their equally witty female counterparts, or arguably vice versa, are a shopworn cliche in comedies. But the significance of Difficult People, the Hulu Original created, written, and starring Julie Klausner and starring Billy Eichner, is the show’s ability to flesh out the world to be hyperspecific beyond bon mots. Playing a struggling writer and a struggling actor, the finely observed details of their relationship, in both cruelty and joy, are hard to find in most media. To use “Old Friends” from Stephen Sondheim’s cult flop musical in the season three finale, and the unexpected series’ end, is another example of the deft way in which Klausner could paint mean people as being capable of deep intimacy and love.
It’s a Small World, After All: “Difficult People” and Intimacy
Julie (Julie Klausner) and Billy (Billy Eichner) want to be seen as mean, bitter, small people that live a small world. As Inkoo Kang posited, “Difficult People is a sitcom about smallness.” To embrace the title as a fundamental part of their identity is a form of myopia that they are proud of, at least externally and publicly. Its first season, which premiered on Hulu in August 2015, established that bitterness and restrictive world view and arguably sense of self was not merely a character detail but the character itself; the pilot opens with Julie and Billy furiously walking down streets of New York yelling at people, ordering strangers out of the way, and making cutting remarks passing by, only to convene and… continue to do the same thing, but together. But though it wasn’t the focus of the first eight episodes, that there was a textural layer to this “haterade”, and emotional one no less, was there from the beginning. Difficult People is not only about small people and smallness, but small people continually struggling with to what degree they want to reach out and, like unlike the audience numbers of NBC’s Hannibal, grow. Read the rest of this entry »