Pamela Adlon Interview: ‘Better Things’
“I honestly never had ambitions to direct,” admits Pamela Adlon, the co-creator, writer and star of FX’s “Better Things.” But when she took on the task of directing every episode of the comedy’s second season, Adlon expresses a certain degree of surprise as to how much she loved it. As Adlon reveals in our exclusive video interview (watch the video above), “It’s not about being in control. It’s about this one singular vision. That I was able to execute my season that way, it was a dream.”
As a director for the entire season, Adlon says that it was “massively important” to her that everyone on her set “felt respected and taken care of.” Adlon credits her experience working with Tracey Ullman for giving her a model for how to make a set run both happily and efficiently. “I like to be happy when I’m at work,” she says, “and people don’t need to waste so much time.” To that end, Adlon strives to waste as little time as possible during the work day, saying that her set could be “a model for how to do things in an efficient way and everybody’s happy.”
From an acting standpoint, Adlon admits that some of the scripts she writes make uncomfortable demands on her as an actress. She cites the season’s sixth episode, “Eulogy,” as a unique challenge for her and for her cast, particularly Mikey Madison, Hannah Alligood, and Olivia Edward, who play Adlon’s children on the show. Adlon describes the episode’s climactic scene– where Sam forces her children to eulogize her– as akin to “going to the doctor. You know you’re going to go through something difficult.” Adlon praises her young co-stars and admits, “It’s just amazing to watch how they grow as actors.” She also cites the season’s final two episodes– “White Rock” and “Graduation”– as particular favorites.
Production for the show’s upcoming third season– which begins later this summer– has already placed Adlon in unfamiliar territory. For the first time in the show’s history, Adlon is working with a team of writers. She credits friend and fellow producer Phil Rosenthal (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) with making her feel comfortable in this new environment, after years of writing mostly on her own. After some initial apprehension, Adlon confesses, “It’s been an amazing experience, and I gotta say… I don’t know if I’m going to go back [to writing alone]. I really like it.”