‘Better Things’: Emmy contender Pamela Adlon chats directing Season 2 of her ‘edgy, uncomfortable show’ during exclusive set visit

One of the biggest surprises on Emmy nomination morning was the inclusion of Pamela Adlon as Best Comedy Actress for her rookie FX series “Better Things.” Adlon co-created the show with Louis C.K., drawing on her own experiences as a working actress and mother of three. Gold Derby recently visited the set on location in Los Angeles during the shooting of Season 2 and participated in a round-table discussion with the star in advance of the return on September 14.

Adlon admits she was surprised by the positive reactions to the first season since “people want yummy, heartfelt things, and I was trying to make kind of an edgy, uncomfortable show. But people are responding to that because there is so much heart in flaws and failures and exhaustion, and all of that kind of thing.” Ultimately she revealed, “I feel a responsibility to make the show as good as it can be (because) it’s an amazing gift to be able to make my show and have people have a deep connection to it.”

In addition to acting and writing, Adlon stepped behind the camera to direct all 10 episodes of Season 2. “People are saying, ‘This is amazing. You’re amazing,'” she divulges. “For me, I go back to my training ground,” which was watching C.K. do the same thing on his show “Louie.” “His advice to me would be, ‘Don’t do that. Don’t let people be dazzled by that. Get your shots, don’t end your days too quickly because I’m a pleaser, and I don’t wanna take everybody’s bone marrow.'”

She believes helming the episodes herself simplified production because “it’s all flowing through me, through this one fun lady. It’s all easier, because I don’t have an email chain to have to go through. I don’t have to wait for this person to weigh in, that person to weigh in. It’s going very quickly and efficiently, and it feels good.”

Adlon won an Emmy on her first nomination in 2002 for Best Voice-Over Performance on “King of the Hill.” She competed four more times for “Louie” in Best Comedy Writing (2013), Best Comedy Series (2014 and 2015), and Best Comedy Guest Actress (2015). She contends in Best Comedy Actress in 2017 against reigning champ Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”), as well as Jane Fonda (“Grace and Frankie”), Allison Janney (“Mom”), Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”), and Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”).

We also spoke with Hannah Alligood, who plays middle child Frankie, and Olivia Edward, who portrays youngest daughter Duke. “She’s definitely very different from normal 13-year-old girls,” says Alligood of her character, who is questioning her gender identity. “She’s extremely intelligent, and she’s very unpredictable. She does love her family, but people don’t really understand her, and maybe she doesn’t really understand herself.”

It isn’t difficult to create the mother-daughter bond between Adlon and Edward, the young actress explains: “She teaches me so much about life.” One of those lessons she’s learned over the course of two seasons is that “it’s really, really important that you’re true to yourself, and that you love who you are, because… you’re going to be you for the rest of your life. It’s just really important to make sure you’re doing what you love to do, and I’m doing what I love to do.”

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