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'Better Things': Bridger Zadina recaps season 1, episode 8

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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, Bridger Zadina, who plays Max’s crush, Harvey, brings us into episode 8, “Scary Fun.”

One of the really exciting parts about being an actor is getting cast in shows you know and love. Coming into a project you already know is always a blast, but getting cast in the first season of a series can be challenging because you don’t know the style yet. Hell, a lot of shows don’t seem to even know their own style until after they air. Shooting Better Things, though, has easily become one of my favorite experiences to date. And the best part… the show is great! Right off the bat, Pam set a tone on set that was welcoming, inclusive, comedically chaotic, and passionately focused. The whirlwind of talent just exudes from her and the Better Things team, and it’s easily one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. In this episode, Sam and Frankie get in an epic prank war, and Sam plays mom and cop with Max’s clueless crush, Harvey. 

When I auditioned for Harvey, they were looking for a guy who was extremely talented at piano — I only played for one month as a kid. Perfect. I went to the audition and had to play in the room, but I bombed so badly, I called my agent afterword laughing about how I probably wouldn’t go back to that casting office for a minute. They called the next day and said I booked it. I was shocked.

Pam set me up to work with the ridiculously talented Jay Gruska, the show’s composer. He wrote the bluesy riff heard in the show and helped me look remotely competent playing piano. In the end, we stuffed the piano with blankets to keep as little sound as possible from coming out of it, and we added the sound in post-production. But I think the scene looked great. 

I love that the characters and stories in Better Things are often lifted directly from Pam and her daughters lives. The character I play was based on a real person, so every time I was on set, Pam and everyone there would always comment on how much I reminded them of the real guy. I’m still not sure if that was a compliment, considering he breaks Max’s heart, but I guess it was a good thing for the show!

A really funny story from the series was actually from last week’s episode, “Duke’s Chorus. In the scene, Max calls Sam, asking her to pick her up from Venice Beach because Sam disabled their Lyft account. When Sam shows up, she finds Max on top of me, making out on the beach. Pam’s a very “show them how it’s done” type of woman, so in rehearsal, she laid me down on the beach, and mounted to show everyone how she wants the shot to look. I couldn’t stop thinking about how Bobby Hill and Spinelli were on top of me. Just another day at the office. 

Pam is a great role model to everyone around her, Mikey is utterly amazing, and Better Things showcases the powerhouse of women in the industry at all ages. All in all, this show has been one of my favorites to be involved with.

Better Things airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.​