Roush Review: The Unvarnished Honesty of ‘Better Things’ Is Surprisingly Moving

Suzanne Tenner/FX

No one does reality checks better than Pamela Adlon.

“This is normal. You’re degenerating,” a chipper ob-gyn glibly informs menopausal Sam Fox (Adlon), the harried earth-mother heroine of the slice-of-life Better Things. Tell her something she doesn’t already know.

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The third season won't make life easier for the Fox family. How will college-bound Max do away from her mother? We asked!

In the wonderfully pungent comedy’s third season of vignette-style episodes, all 12 directed by Adlon, Sam is prone to hot flashes, disturbing sex dreams and distracting visions of a long-absent father. Just what she doesn’t need as she firmly but lovingly single-parents three maddening, marvelous daughters and copes with her own dotty mother, who could be a danger to her offspring.

Watching Sam on the warpath, with a rude school mom or an arrogant director on a dehumanizing movie set, is to marvel at her nerve and guts. And yet for all of its barbed and scatological humor — be warned, there’s a colonoscopy episode — there’s an unvarnished honesty to Better Things that has a way of grabbing and moving you just when you least expect it.

When mistaken for a prostitute (don’t ask), her first instinct is to ask, “What’s the going rate for someone like me?” Sam, you’re priceless.

Better Things, Season 3 Premiere, Thursday, February 28, 10/9c, FX