“Difficult People,” produced by Amy Poehler and starring Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner, is one of the new TV series being most closely watched by experts who track the nominations to be released over the next few weeks by the Golden Globes, SAG and Critics’ Choice Awards. The cliffhanger: Will this show about two New Yorkers — Klausner is the crass redhead and Eichner is her gay bestie — launch Hulu as a major kudos player in Hollywood?
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The New York setting and female/gay-male friendship conjure up obvious parallels to “Will & Grace” … only with venom. But while “Will & Grace” won the Emmy for Best Comedy Series (2000) and a SAG Award for Best TV Ensemble (2000), “Difficult People” should be warned: NBC’s gay-friendly sitcom became the biggest Golden Globe loser of all time, getting skunked on all of its 27 nominations.
My personal favorite joke from the “Difficult People” pilot — “I can’t wait for Blue Ivy to be old enough for R. Kelly to piss on her” — is something you’d never seen on PC-friendly “Will & Grace.” But the Hulu laffer should be praised for taking risks and not being afraid to offend.
Critics agree. The first season of “Difficult People” has racked up an impressive 85% at Rotten Tomatoes and a 76 score at Metacritic. Among the raves were these:
Ken Tucker (Yahoo! TV): “What the show captures perfectly are the kind of people who are so immersed in inside-information about entertainment that their own ideas for projects are impossibly obscure — they’ll never appeal to a broad audience.”
Matt Zoller Seitz (New York Magazine/Vulture): “Not too many [post-“Seinfeld” sitcoms] are willing to really, truly commit and create unpleasant characters that you ultimately like because they’re funny and make an art out of going too far.”
Neil Genzlinger (New York Times): “Yes, they are self-absorbed, hypercritical people who you would and should hate. But the reason the show works is that, very subtly, it’s mocking them.”
Mary McNamara (Los Angeles Times): “The charm of ‘Difficult People’ is that it refuses to deal in charm. Though witty and observant, albeit in a relentlessly negative way, Julie and Billy are clueless.”
Rebecca Iannucci (TV Line): “Even though Billy and Julie’s cynicism borders on aggressive and off-putting, it’s these rare glimpses of their humanity that make ‘Difficult People’ a refreshing 22-minute watch.”
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