Every week, the cast and crew of FX’s Better Things — a semi-autobiographical comedy created by Pamela Adlon and Louie C.K., centered on Sam Fox (Adlon), an actress and gnarly single mom of three girls — is taking EW behind the scenes. For each episode, a cast or crew member is recapping, sharing thoughts on what went down, and walking us through the ins-and-outs of the show. Here, actress Rebecca Metz, who plays Sam’s manager, Tressa, walks us through episode 4, “Woman is the Something of the Something.”
The day we shot Tressa’s scenes for this episode was my first day on set. An actor’s first day on a new project is a lot like your first day at a new school. You’re not only trying to give your best performance, you’re also feeling out the specific energy of the show and figuring out where you fit in. Pam created such a fun, collaborative, creative environment on this show, I felt instantly at home.
As soon as I got to set, Pam said, “I have a kid for you!” and I met Caleb, who plays my son. I realized I was wearing my wedding ring and asked her if Tressa was married, and she said, “No. All the women on this show are doing it themselves.” Knowing that, combined with the way Tressa protects Sam from the harsh professional realities that unfold in the episode — all while feeding her son Goldfish crackers — told me so much about who Tressa is. It’s such a gift to get that kind of insight into a character on day one.
I think this episode resonates on another level because it digs into some of the issues women face in the entertainment industry. Tressa has been around long enough to be skeptical when she hears they want Sam for the lead in the pilot. She wants to be wrong, because why shouldn’t Sam be the lead in a show? But she knows how these things go. More than anything, when it falls apart, she’s disappointed that she’s not surprised. But at the end of the day, her job is to take care of Sam, and that’s what she does. The fact that it all happens against the backdrop of Sam considering plastic surgery and Frankie learning about the complexities of social activism is just a brilliant example of Pam and Louis C.K.’s incredible writing.
One really special thing about Better Things that people may not know is that most of the crew is female. That’s unusual in this business, this is literally the first time I’ve worked with a predominately female crew. On the one hand, it shouldn’t matter, because it doesn’t change how the work gets done. But on the other hand, the fact that it’s so unusual means it really does matter. There’s so much important discussion about representation in Hollywood right now, on and off camera, so it’s hugely gratifying to be part of a project that is moving that needle.
Better Things airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.