Two misanthropic New York City writers struggle to become famous for their work, and blame everyone else along the way.
Title: Difficult People
Year It Began: 2015
Where It Can Be Seen: Hulu
Who’s In It: Julie Klausner, Billy Eichner, James Urbaniak, Andrea Martin, Gabourey Sidibe, Cole Escola
Typical Episode Length: 30 minutes
Number of Episodes to Date: 18 (Season 3 premiered Aug. 8)
Brief Plot Description: Julie and Billy hate the world so much, but love themselves so much. They’re talented comedy writers, but bad at business and unwilling to accept rejection.
Why It’s Worth Watching: You’re not supposed to like Julie and Billy, and they don’t want you to. No, they want a paycheck — fair enough — and attention, and fame, and all the luxurious trimmings. They’re ridiculously funny (they are); they’ve really worked hard for it (they think); and they expect all the nobodies in their way to drop dead and leave room for them (really). Bless their hearts. It’s a cruel world. Their witty misanthropy is fun and clever, but of course it’s a mask for their deeply rooted pain. If this sounds like too much therapy for a schadenfreudey sitcom, know that they’re not clueless about themselves. They just want their break, even if they’ll do anything to get it. Their obnoxious friends don’t help matters. They take turns feeding their often cruel humor and admonishing them for it. But even that seems put on. They all love to hate together, and they love each other for it. Gabourey Sidibe and Cole Escola play Billy’s boss and coworker, respectively, at a casual restaurant that doubles as their hangout. (You get the idea that for all their contempt for mainstream show like “Friends,” they love playing “Friends.”) Escola is a goldmine of sharp comebacks, and is one of the few people who can throw it right back to Billy with ease. Julie’s long-term, live-in boyfriend Arthur, played by James Urbaniak, is perhaps the only sane voice in the group. Of course, he’s often ignored. And let’s just remind ourselves that Andrea Martin playing any role, let alone a nagging mother (as she does on NBC’s new hit, “Great News”), is always a homerun. You might not know Julie Klausner’s face but she’s written some of the best television commentary of the last many years for New York Magazine. You might recognize Billy Eichner from his riotous sidewalk game show “Billy on the Street.” Both of these provide a good preview of their “Difficult People” personas. The difficult people here are our protagonists, of course. But they’re in on the joke, and we have to appreciate that. The real difficulty is in pretending to not enjoy every drip of their sarcasm and wish that you could come up with anything funnier. If only these people knew that in an alternate universe, in perhaps a fairer business meeting, they already had a show of their own.