Difficult People: A Porn of One's Own

Personal space is limited in episode four of Difficult People.EXPAND
Personal space is limited in episode four of Difficult People.
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We're recapping Difficult People, episode by episode. Ooh, what about a gay Gremlins?

Can a difficult person be a difficult person without also being a stagnant person? We ask because the beauty of Billy and Julie of Difficult People is that they have, find, and create opportunities for themselves only to undo their progress by the end of every episode. But we also ask because we want them to succeed a little bit — and to see overarching storylines beyond Marilyn's multi-episode flailing therapy business.

The season-two première served as a reminder of how the show works: Billy and Julie try something new and fail. Billy can't help but break up with his latest gym hookup. Julie ruins a job opportunity. Since then, we've seen setbacks — well-earned and self-generated setbacks, granted — at every turn. Fame by way of charity? Toilet Hand Challenge. Need a boyfriend and community of supportive women? New Jersification

Come episode four, Blade Stallion, it feels about time that the Jerk Babies made some progress. A smidgen would satisfy. And they sort of do, but they also sort of don't. 

We begin at their favorite coffee spot that's been made over into an inane board-game-themed cafe where adult humans are playing Battleship and Chutes and Ladders. Billy and Julie, meanwhile, are trying to work and not have aneurysms or play children's games, you creeps. "Fuck this ironic daycare center!" Julie yells. They debate moving to the library or rescheduling. No and no. Billy enjoys hitting on bookworms who "live alfresco," and this week, his sister-in-law Rachel has a Yiddish poetry reading. With understandable repulsion at their surroundings and after a couple Jared from Subway jokes, they decide to leave. Without another safe haven where they can get work done (or try to get work done to make progress and make us happy and satisfy our hope that they succeed insofar as they are capable), they settle on seeing a movie. 

As they leave, a board-gamer invites them to stay for a cuddly round of Twister. Julie smacks the coffee right out of his hand and gives a gentle, insincere toddler's rendition of sorry. And we're off.

Arthur has forgotten his squash ... tools? Equipment? Whatever. He comes home to retrieve said tools/equipment and walks in on Julie masturbating to porn on her laptop, porn she later describes as a "jizz festival." Arthur is horrified, so much so that he doesn't even take his squash tools with him. 

Billy is hanging out with his brother Gary (Fred Armisen), Rachel, and his nieces. Rachel is epic levels of pissed because Gary is a dumbass and screwed up her aforementioned poetry reading by not booking a venue. 

"Do you know what a shlemiel your brother is?" she asks Billy. He replies, "Well, I knew he worked at Hasenpfeffer Incorporated." [Please note that we spelled that correctly on first try. We are proud of this.]

Billy smoothes over the situation by offering up the restaurant where he works as a venue for the poetry reading. As an aside to Gary, Billy mentions that maybe Gary shouldn't put up with Rachel's berating ways. But Gary writes it off — dun, dun, dun — or does he?

Post-bate, Julie brings squash tools to Arthur's cubicle at PBS. They have an awkward little exchange, and on her way out she finds an empty, quiet, board-game-less office that would be the perfect place for she and Billy to do some work. No, they don't work at PBS. But when they want something, the only thing that can stop them is themselves — dun, dun dun — or is it?

At the restaurant, it's pornchat time with Billy and Julie. Matthew reveals that he enjoys cartoon porn. "Why haven't you drowned in Bryan Singer's pool yet?" Billy asks. Unclear. Nate reveals that he's kind of a, erm, big deal in the industry. Yeah, that's right, he used to go by the name Blade Stallion. 

From the PBS office Billy and Julie decided to commandeer, Julie receives a call from Marilyn asking that Julie speak with a client's daughter who wants to get into the business of show. Julie is reluctant, but agrees because, remember, Marilyn's having trouble retaining her clients — even though she has mostly stopped texting during sessions.

At home watching porn, Billy is interrupted by Gary, who told Rachel to "back off" and is now moving in with Billy to be a bachelor and re-enact "two wild and crazy two and a half men." It's the classic: You give advice that totally backfires on you. 

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Billy and Julie regroup at the office, rattling off all their problems and it's revealed that Inez, aspiring show businesswoman, is sitting quietly to the side. Inez wants to be an intern for Jimmy Fallon, and instead Billy and Julie convince her to be their intern. Then they scream at her about salad, meetings, and not knowing what avocados are or who Conan is. 

Marilyn, who is on an A-to-Z tour of the city's museums, goes with Julie to the Museum of Sex, where Julie wants to have a real conversation with her mom about the sexual weirdness between she and Arthur. Marilyn the therapist is a terrible listener, but gives her accidentally appropriate advice about how to have a conversation. 

Back at home, Julie and Arthur break the weird ice. "I’m not being weird, I’m reading Jonathan Franzen," Arthur says. They decide to share their porn with one another. Arthur recoils at her proclivity for gang bangs, saying that he thought she was a feminist. Julie's disgusted at Arthur's zest for magazines portraying busty, pale, 30-something redheads that look a little too much like her. Who goes to Burger King in Morocco, anyway?

Billy and Julie convene at the office and discuss their awkward roommate situations and remind Inez that they will need a second dinner order from Seamless. Julie wonders if she and Arthur have deeper problems. Gary spent the evening looking back at his high school yearbook. They have to get Gary and Rachel back together — but they have to find the right tiny stubborn Jewish woman for the job, one who takes offense at everything. Marilyn! 

Marilyn, at the Museum of Tarps, agrees to help with Gary and Rachel's marital problems. 

Arthur and Julie climb into bed and begin a marathon of sex-having (and eating the third Seamless dinner that Inez ordered back at the office). They agree that they should keep their porn to themselves going forward. 

Billy comes home to Gary attempting to nae nae. Watch me! Mmmnope. He leaves immediately and takes refuge in the PBS office, where he sleeps on the floor and is woken up by Inez. She's in the middle of pitying him for being homeless when Ken Burns walks in, announces that it's his office, and gives them the boot. 

Apparently the whips and nae naes proved too much, because when Billy returns home, Gary has realized that he misses Rachel. "You're like challah and ... a plate," Billy says of his brother and his brother's wife. 

The poetry reading is tomorrow at the restaurant, and Billy suggests that Gary comes up with a grand gesture to win back Rachel. What does she like? Gary says she finds it amusing when he dusts the screen of the TV, which of course she does not, Gary. What if I bring the TV in and dust it off in front of her? No, Gary, no. 

At the Yiddish poetry reading, the culmination of Rachel's continuing education program, Marilyn approaches Rachel. They offend each other swiftly and become trapped in an excuse-me off. Rachel explains to Marilyn that Gary told her to back off in front of their kids and sent her nary a carnation for her poetry graduation thing. He enters and is greeted by Marilyn, "Oh hello, Gary, you piece of shit." 

But he's come to apologize for being an idiot, even though he will undoubtedly always be an idiot. He asks for her to take him back and for her to remind him of how stupid he has been for the rest of their lives. They reconcile, with a little Dr. Philling on Marilyn's part. 

And then the poetry begins. Rachel dedicates her work to Gary: "He's stupid but I'm not gonna do any better." It's bad and basically just the word dybbuk a million times, once rhymed with fibbuk. Gary loves it. 

Marilyn thanks Julie for helping out Inez, who has a book deal to write a The Devil Wears Prada-style novel about a job from hell. The title? Ginger and The Queen. So much for their office. So much for their intern. So much for those avocado-laden salads from Seamless.

Nate congratulates Rachel on her poetry, and she and Gary recognize him immediately. Blade Stallion! They're starstruck and thank him for bringing so much joy to their marriage. 

Maybe we didn't get the career progress we wanted, but at least the Jerk Babies are trying to try to work. And things are looking up for Marilyn, who ends the episode by taking the stage to sing an unaccompanied rendition of "Send in the Clowns." 


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