Film and TV

Difficult People Recap: Suffer for Fashion

We're recapping Difficult People, episode by episode. You feel fat. 

This post contains clowns, blood, Kubrick references, and Colombian shapewear. You've been warned. 

We begin in one of those mobile blood donation vans that give us the Scooby-style heebie-jeebies, where Julie is donating, perhaps because she's trying to be a good person, but mostly as an excuse to badger her nurse for extra high-glucose cookies. Billy is watching, lamenting how he's not allowed to donate blood because he is gay and has sex and America is the worst.

But we're here for a reason, people. In fact, a few. While perusing a Time Out New York, he finds that 1. It's Fashion Week, and 2. Christian "O.G. Champion of Leslie Jones" Siriano's couture show consists of surely horrendous clown-inspired apparel that will not be modeled by professional models, no, but instead by lady comedians. As Lucille Ball would say, eeeeelwllwww.

No duh, Julie should do it. And she agrees: "Yeah, I should be a fashion model," she says between bites of a baby-pink frosted sugar cookie. As Julie's making her way into the world of the Sisters Hadid, Billy is contemplating taking a job voicing an animated beaver that will teach kids how to use the bathroom through song. He needs the insurance, okay? His shoulder is messed up, and apparently the cafe doesn't deal with his medical. No judgment (or real knowledge of how insurance works) here — and none from Julie either. Money's money, and if your face isn't associated with it then be the beaver you wish to never see anywhere again.

“Enjoy your cookies, my little blood diamond," he signs off. And then Julie requests a glass of milk to go with her snack.

Just how will this antagonistic duo of malcontents fuck up these opportunities to get attention and fame and happiness? Likely extraordinarily, but we’re left with about 20 minutes to find out the specifics.

Outside a Fashion Week event, they resolve to go in, since the Ten Tens, a group of super-elite, super-hot gay guys known for their party/orgies and vice versa are in there, along with a roomful of people who've probably never heard an episode of Serial, a.k.a. Julie Heaven. First though, they must decide how to trick the doorman into letting these non-fashions inside. Instead of “I left my purse in the bathroom,” they choose the “Donatella,” which consists of shouting Italian-shouting words (including Stefani Germanotta) and the use of overblown hand gestures. 

They quickly adapt to the rules of fashion, where meanness equals queenness. Begging the question: Why are they not more involved with the fashionable set? Oh right, probably because they piss off literally everyone everywhere. We forgot for a sec! Carry on. Just so happens that a woman Julie addresses as "bitch" is casting the Christian Siriano show — and someone just dropped out. Bam, she's in, she's a model! Billy assures her she'll be falling asleep listening to Leonardo DiCaprio talk about the environment in no time. High off their success, Julie gets Billy to introduce himself to the Ten Tens and promises to let him enjoy whatever may come. 


The next day, Billy, whose shoulder still hurts, recaps his evening for Julie during a phone convo from the cafe. His night? It consisted of attending Marc Jacobs’ goodbye Grindr party, which turned into an orgy complete with sex swings made from John Varvatos jeans.

“I totally see why we can’t give blood now!" he says.

Julie tells him that Christian's coming over for a fitting and she's unsure whether to serve snacks. Billy asks Michael what twinks eat, to which he responds, not skipping a beat, ayuss. We died. But then a woman at the cafe was literally about to die because she was choking on something but nobody knew how to do the Heimlich and so it just ended up with Lola yelling at Michael and Michael sitting on the woman who eventually coughed up whatever the obstruction was. In the midst of the near-death fiasco, Billy announces that he'll be the beaver! Great work, team.

Julie swings by Marilyn's to tell her that she's going to be a model at Fashion Week. They do their usual bragging-meets-seeking approval from one another thing as Julie requests that her mom give her the industrial-strength Colombian shapewear she's always trying to pass off as a gift. Amid congratulations, Marilyn gets in a dig about her metabolism skipping a generation while highlighting her accomplishments as a living model for Lord & Taylor and then noticing that Julie looks like she's getting sick. "You feel fat," she says, hand on Julie's forehead — pause pause pause, "I meant warm."

Back at the cafe, a lady named Marcy is teaching the staff CPR because they almost got sued after today’s little choking fiasco. “Who here hates choking?” she opens with.

They all seem to hate both choking and Marcy, who is about ready to take a Jerry Gergich-style beating. They scream at her about autoerotic asphyxiation and women's shelters and Steve Rannazzisi until the litany of fuck yous escort the well-meaning lady outside. No matter. Billy wasn't paying attention anyway, since he just got a text that one of the Ten Tens died and Billy has been called on as the replacement. 

Julie, meanwhile, is sweatily making her way to an apartment and in the midst of a meticulous Shining homage that ends with her doing the red-rum voice paired with the ol' here-is-pointer move, saying, “Julie isn't here, Mr. Siriano.” It's a little much and feels out of nowhere, but it's so well-executed, who cares?

During the fitting, Siriano informs Julie that he can’t tell her what a fan he is ... because he doesn’t know her. He's put off by her neck sweat, and she tries to explain away her condition. "I mixed Cipro with high-glucose cookies and diet pills," she tells him. "Ah," he knowingly replies, "the Evangelista."

(We would like a corresponding druggy cocktail for every 1990s supermodel, please. Please, please.)

Meanwhile, Billy is shooting this beaver thing, which is now live-action and not animated and it really seems like everyone's gonna see his face. But the director, played by Austin Pendleton, assures him that Billy will have some kind of foam head to wear. It's just not ready yet.

Back at Julie and Arthur’s apartment, Billy wonders why Julie is so sick. Cut to montage of Julie licking three things that should've made the cut for the Buzzlist piece they wrote about the most disgusting things in New York City. Never mind that. They're both worried that these things they don't really want that badly might not happen! Also, they are watching the Hallmark show Cedar Cove, which is apparently Julie's wind-down show for when Vicki Gunvalson has turned her brain to oatmeal. 

Marilyn comes over to take care of Julie and finds Arthur, who's busy watching Housewives to help Julie write her recaps that are due imminently. Marilyn immediately gets sucked in and wants to help (and also watch these terrible women do stupid things.) All of a sudden, these two are actually getting along! Bonding, even. 

But sicko Julie overhears her caretakers say that she's probably too sick to walk in the show. So she sneaks out, sweaty as ever. 

At the baby beaver shoot, the director is berating Billy. See, the foam head thing came in, and it's abundantly clear that Billy’s face will be seeable through it. He's out here trying to be cool, guy! How's he supposed to be cool and in with the Ten Tens if he's the face of teaching kids how to wipe?? 

Julie arrives at the show, gives a cheerleader-y chant about being here, queer, and wearing clothes. This bitch is tripping more than those poor girls who had to wear Alexander McQueen's Armadillo shoes back in 2013. She excuses herself to, we think, puke. 

Marilyn and Arthur realize that Julie has escaped. So they call Billy, who bails on his job to meet them at the Siriano show. 

The clothing Julie is wearing can be described as, hmm, more frightening than the actual Shining? Alas, they take a back-back seat to her performance. As she makes her way down the catwalk, she starts making these cat-hairball coughs that she attempts to remedy with a cough drop. But, during what could've been (but never really could've been) her Carrie-on-the-runway moment, she not only trips but starts choking on her lozenge. Billy springs from the audience, still in his beaver costume, to administer the CPR Marcy taught him. Then? Then she starts puking right into his baby beaver diaper. Bad shoulder still at play, he has to pick her up and assist her offstage. 

But not before she catches Marilyn's eye. “I’m a pretty girl, mama,” Julie says, channeling the scariest and saddest of Gypsy Rose Lees. "Yes, you are,” Marilyn says tearfully. 

The next day, the New York Post announces “Clown Whore Pukes on Gay Beaver.” Which ... isn't a pun? But fine. Somehow picking Julie up fixed his shoulder, and Billy has been fired from the beaver job since he's on the cover of the Post with a woman yorfing onto his dick. Oh, and the Ten Tens are out of the picture, too.

Hey though, Julie wants high-glucose cookies. So they decide to go back to the blood truck and tell the volunteers that Billy’s a virgin — or straight. “Like Kevin Spacey!”
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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski