We're recapping Difficult People, episode by episode. Welcome to Shondaland!
Inspiration comes in many forms. For some, it’s derived from the success story of Shonda Rhimes. For others, it’s the stories she wrote about in her Year of Yes memoir. And for Billy, it’s in the Amazon review of the book Shonda wrote to inspire other women with a lifestyle motto that laughs in the face of Nancy Reagan. He got the gist, and he's running with it. “Yes” is the only answer Billy’s offering up this week. A year would be overboard, after all.
So far, it’s landed he and Julie a midnight comedy show that went well. Great even!
As luck would have it, the show went so well that comedy connoisseur Method Man low-key geeks out on them, explaining that he finds their work and that of Bonnie Hunt funny. (Hey, same!) Meth suggests they hang out and passes them his e-mail, revealing another of his pop culture proclivities, an unbridled love of the Debra Messing show Mysteries of Laura. RIP.
There they have him: their first famous friend. Apparently, celebs can be pretty nice when you aren’t screaming at them to put their hand in a toilet. What a wonder.
At the cafe, Julie is celebrating her counteractive year of no, by one Nonda Rhimes. She canceled a lunch with her mom and just found tickets to Hashtag Cats on Craigslist. The show is a reboot of actual Cats and stars both Sasha Grey and Grumpy Cat. This Craigslist James ticket seller is even offering Julie a friends discount. But obviously they are not friends. In other words, red flag. Billy is sad he can't go see Hashtag Cats because he has a session with his trainer, Felix, who exercises Billy in-home and may or may not be named after the trickster cartoon cat. In other words, not quite a red flag, but vaguely suspicious.
Marilyn is filling the gap in her schedule with a last-minute hair appointment and wishing she had a gay best friend. Her hairdresser, an impossibly crude man named Chad, volunteers. Together, she resolves, they'll stand up to Julie.
Meanwhile, Method Man is hanging out with Billy and Julie, talking about what kind of projects they're looking for. Billy suggests a sketch show, and just like that Meth agrees to set some meetings. Yay famous friends!
At Felix’s apartment, Billy is doing one squat as part of the trainer’s “micro-intervals,” which require that you confuse your body with a food plan he offers that also confuses your mind. But Felix is Joel McHale and ripped, a potent combo that’s tough to counter with logic.
Julie mets up with Craigslist James and hugs him even though this beanie-wearing douche is shady AF.
Naturally, we come to find out the tickets are fraudulent when Julie is on her way into the show, the tickets don't register on the scanner, and an embodiment of white privilege tells her as if they're on a prank show, “Bitch, you’ve been scammed.”
Incensed, she calls Craigslist James and resolves to never stop badgering him. (How Was Your Week? listeners are getting a lot of very enjoyable callbacks to the real-life Julie's podcast in this one. Because yeah, she did torment a ticket scammer for a span of time.) “I’m never leaving him alone until he pays me back, kills himself, or both,” she tells Arthur.
Julie updates Billy on her scammer as they’re waiting to take a meeting at NBC, where show posters are hung on the waiting room wall and then removed and replaced every few seconds. In the meeting, 700 blonde women play musical chairs and one squidgy man with curly hair greets Method Man.
Julie dives in, proposing a sketch show starring she and Billy.
“I know what you’re thinking: NBC already has Saturday Night Live," she says. "But does it?”
The show would be like Key and Peele, but obviously Billy and Julie are not black. They joke about the irony of their being "pure" in terms of their heritage, and this leads to an inevitable Hitler joke. The exec, clearly not actually listening, takes issue. Does Hitler have to be a character?
Yes, Billy, Julie, and Meth agree — because #weekofyes.
Exec says he loves it! And then he quickly explains that he's taking a hard pass because NBC is currently "rethinking its commitment to comedy in the way you decide to take a break from an ex who has already dumped you."
Fuck NBC, Billy says back at the cafe. Still charging ahead with his Shondavision, he resolves to sell the show somewhere else.
Billy also shares with Julie that Felix is providing all his meals. To Julie, all this sounds like Felix wants to bone. Billy is pretty sure that Felix is straight but interested in being friends — and wouldn't it be kinda neat for Billy to have two? But the episode's impending lesson looms: As we learned from the relationship of TomKat and also earlier this episode with the ticket scalper James, people you are paying are never really your friends. Remember? Do you remember that this is the point? But do you??
Marilyn and the crude dude arrive, she in a lovely camel trench and he in an outfit that, let's see, only a graduate of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy would put together and deem a success. Oh, what Carson Kressley hath wrought. Marilyn has come here to throw her new best friendship (with a man Billy describes as “the real life Matt Damon from Behind the Candelabra”) in Julie’s face because of course she did.
At his training sesh, Felix is introducing a method called interval eating. He shoves a cheeseburger into Billy's mouth as he runs on an elliptical. What's this guy's game, anyway? At this point, it's hard to parse. But Felix tells Billy that he appreciates his trust. “I was just thinking we should be friends," he says, inviting him over tomorrow night. Julie can come, too. It's a date... or something.
"Are you named after the cartoon cat and his bag of tricks?" Billy asks, mouth overflowing with potatoey bits and repeating himself, yelling through the carbs. Felix's response? Yes.
Now at the NYPD, Julie is furious that the police aren’t working to resolve her fake ticketing case. But a detective explains to her that there's a series of gruesome murders they have to investigate and Robert Durst already being in custody is not helping.
Taking justice further into her own hands, Julie calls Craigslist James and leaves a voicemail detailing how she was taking her sister (not real) to see Hashtag Cats (real) in a white limo (not real) and with a band of instrumentalists (also not real) because her sister (again, no not real) named S. Epatha (ha ha ha) is dying of cancer (nope). Arthur is borderline disgusted that Julie would pull this card.
"You thought the cancer card was at the bottom of the deck?" she asks. "Honey, we haven’t hit the middle."
So now we're at Felix's dinner and besides Billy, Julie, and Arthur, the party consists of a bunch of scary, humorless, buff dudes who are apparently also trainers. But they seem more like... assassins? Even so, Julie says it seems like Felix really likes Billy. Though this food he's serving from a high-end kitchen equipped with gadgets for Arthur to lust after does not seem like the kind of thing you'd feed someone who's trying to lose weight. Troubling? Not exactly. Not yet, anyway.
All right, day two of pitches and Meth is coaching Julie and Billy. They'll have to tailor their ideas to each of the networks. Ready? Okay!
At FX, the NBC exec from the other day is now the water-getter for people waiting in the lobby.
At Comedy Central, Billy and Julie say the show is gonna punch you and, while you're unconscious, draw a picture of a dick on your face. Julie’s a girl, yeah. But does she have a dirty mouth? Ask her asshole.
At E!, their show is cunty, bitchy, gossipy fun.
At Adult Swim, it’s genre animation and weird and random. Y’all wanna vape or what?
At (pan out to reveal) Al Jazeera, they’re greenlit for a pilot on the rebranded Al Jazeera X. Billy and Julie will be the new face of it. "Gangsta," Meth says by way of congratulations.
Celebrating with Method Man later, the Wu-Tang patron of the comedic arts shares that he got them Hashtag Cats tickets and they can bring anyone they want. Julie can’t want to rub it in the face of her scammer. But Meth has some advice, since he’s had his share of beef over the years.
See Shonda Rhimes helped him realize a couple things. One, there are limits to what even Viola Davis can make seem plausible. And two, the best way to say yes to yourself is to forgive your enemies.
It’s good advice. So Julie texts Craigslist James that she forgives him and that she’s gonna see the show tonight.
"You see, dressing on the side, everything worked out,” Arthur says as they enter the theater. Just then, Julie sees Craigslist James outside. He has a pair of violinists and a white limo, just like S. Epatha would’ve wanted. Julie cannot have Marilyn see this because it will turn the tables on who looks worst this round. And while we think doing worse than Chad would be pretty damn impossible, we get it.
“Forgiveness is such a rookie mistake,” Billy says, and then explains to Marilyn that it's a crazed fan.
Outside, Craigslist James apologizes, and Julie tells him that it’s too late because her sister is dead. This is, naturally, just as Method Man comes outside too. He offers his sympathies. S. Epatha wouldn’t have wanted them to be sad, Julie says. So let’s go enjoy Hashtag Cats in her honor.
They take their seats. Chad keeps trying to make out with Marilyn and says he refuses to participate in this musical affair if he has no chance of getting any. Twist! He's actually bi. Which half-explains the poorly implemented fashions. Method Man scolds him for this behavior. Because, dude, Marilyn’s daughter just died of cancer. Chad storms off.
But of course, Marilyn is all EXCUSE ME. And here is where Julie’s superhuman spitefulness comes to light.
“Don’t lie to me little white lady,” Method Man says, eyeing his friend/business associate/soon-to-be half of a discontinued relationship.
She takes responsibility. Yeah, she lied to the scammer about having a sister who died of cancer.
Meth is repulsed. He doesn’t work with liars. So he leaves, calling off their Al Jazeera show.
“Oh my God," Marilyn says, overhearing that last bit. "Have you been radicalized?”
Having made a noticable commotion, the group is on its way out. But a team of detectives meet them in the lobby. Guns drawn, they're told to freeze. But Felix, trickster that he is, tries to make a break for it. See, turns out those murders from before? they were felix’s doing. he’s a cannibal.
Felix is a cannibal! Part of a ring in sunset park. “Don’t keep me from my veal!” he yells, bemoaning all the time he's spent grooming Billy, who is a perfect combination of both tall and fat, to be eaten with carrots and potatoes.
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“I’m fat?” Billy says, devastated. Felix is arrested.
Totally deflated and with their lesson about not being friends with people you pay learned, Arthur, Marilyn, Julie, and Billy go to dinner.
Marilyn can’t grasp what’s offended her more: cannibalism, bisexuality, or Al Jazeera.
Their server is water man and former NBC exec Kevin, who is excited to see his pals again. Marilyn has just one question: How’s the veal?