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Recap: ‘Please Like Me’ Season 2, Episode 1: ‘Milk’

Recap: 'Please Like Me' Season 2, Episode 1: 'Milk'

This Australian comedy from writer/creator Josh Thomas made waves for its nuanced and hilarious twist to the dreaded “millennial” comedy. Colorful, whimsical, and romantic, Thomas brings an auteur’s precision to his bright eyed but self-deprecating Josh. Thomas was roundly lauded for his sensitive depiction of mental illness, blending comedy and tragedy for a kind of alchemical TV magic trick.

Available on Hulu.


The following recap contains spoiler for the most recent episode of “Please Like Me,” as one would suspect.

The season premiere of “Please
Like Me” (entitled “Milk”) definitely surpassed my expectations. Like all
the episodes that precede it, “Milk” reveals the universal appeal of the show
by focusing on the collective experiences of the characters (no matter their
sexual orientation or mental health). The episode is also an awkward reunion
(of sorts), which allows the viewers to catch up on the lives of the characters
they have haven’t seen for nearly a year (although the plot flashes forward a
couple of years after the events of the first season).

We open in
a club where Josh and his roommates, Tom and Patrick, talk about Josh ruining
his chances with a guy (Josh brought up the story of his potentially pedophilic
imaginary friend, Mickey). Like most of his witty banter, Josh focuses his dry
humor toward making fun of his friends, including saying that Patrick (his
crush) is “very cool” and likes to talk about Harley Davidsons and hip hop
music with his “cool gang.” The group’s silly antics segue to one of my
favorite elements of the show: the theme song. Usually, “I’ll Be Fine” by
Clairey Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes plays against images of Josh
cooking/dancing, but this time, the creators upped their production budget and
choreographed a performance that features an angelic drag queen (Suzy Akiko)
and a stable of choirboys who disrobe to reveal their chiseled bodies. Amongst
the crowd of onlookers, Patrick makes out with a bandana-sporting guy, Tom kisses
a random blonde, and Josh sips his drink while dancing alone to the music.

Their debaucherous night cuts to
the morning after when Josh shames his roommates for their sexual trysts (Josh
disapproves of Patrick’s guy while Tom is still reeling from his girl
repeatedly calling him evil). Meanwhile, Josh’s mother, Rose, dyes her hair and
talks to her hairdresser about everything from Oprah to gluten intolerance. The
intimate close-up on Rose during her endless chatter is quite unsettling and
foreshadows the “big news” Rose will reveal to everyone.

The crux of
the episode focuses on Josh’s relationship to his baby sister, Grace. His
father, Alan, and his stepmother, Mae, ask Josh to babysit Grace while they
have a night out (Alan believes this will be a great way for Josh to forge a
relationship with his sister). Josh reluctantly agrees and spends the entire
night watching Grace while his roommates have sex. In one of the more poignant
sequences, the episode juxtaposes the characters’ various types of
relationships against one another: Tom hooks up with Niamh even though he is
uninterested in rekindling a relationship (it is revealed that Tom’s
relationship to Claire ended when she accepted a job in Germany), Patrick
caresses a guy he just met on Grindr, and Josh grows closer to his baby sister
when he cleans her poopy diaper by throwing her in the shower.

The episode
ends with an unplanned get together of the central characters (save for Claire
and Geoffrey). In a sobering moment, the show temporarily sheds its humorous
veneer to tackle Rose’s mental disorder. As Rose tries to tell everyone about
her “big news,” she gets distracted and inadvertently forces the characters to
face the reality of their situations (she reveals Josh’s crush to Patrick and
asks Niamh if she is still “part of this group.”). Rose finally reveals her
news, which is what most of us either expected or suspected: Rose decided to
stop taking her medication (after discovering she was incapable of feeling
sadness when seeing a dog being crushed by the wheel of a car). The show transitions
to a brief glimpse of everyone’s reaction, then immediately cuts to the credits.

In creating
a narrative ellipsis between season one and season two, Josh Thomas forces his
viewers to actively try to fill in the gaps. Fortunately, “Milk” doesn’t force-feed
exposition to its viewers, allowing them to slowly discover what happened to
these characters and what brought them to their current situations. It is a
show that actively challenges being categorized as a “gay show” because it hits
so many emotional and universal truths. Sexuality is a character trait rather
than a narrative impetus, and the specificity of these characters helps make
the universal appeal all the more tangible.


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