Jim Croce’s wistful ballad of regrets and missed communications was the perfect backdrop for the premiere of Jill Soloway’s magnificent show, which is about a family’s former patriarch struggling to introduce herself as a woman—but really a person, instead of just a parent—to her floundering grown children. Los Angeles is its own character on the show, and rarely has a show so captured the yearnings and flavor of the city.
First, the children, who really are just that: There’s Ali (God, more of Gaby Hoffman in everything, please) who’s an artful mess. She’s sharp and funny and almost rubbery with her lack of responsibility. She doesn’t have a job or a hairbrush—but she does have an idea to spoof the seminal (and disturbing) children’s book Are You My Mother? with an Urban Outfitters checkout piece of winky ephemera called Are You My Soulmate? Though it’s not her soul, per se, that is instantly drawn to a deliciously jacked trainer in Griffith Park.
If Ali seems like she’s naturally the smartest of the kids, middle child Josh (Jay Duplass) strikes me as the rawest. A successful music guy with an off-puttingly cool house, we meet him in bed playing with the breasts of his stylish girlfriend/fairy/musical discovery. She’s part of a band called Glitterish—on this band name alone, I am sold on the show—which consists of a similarly Twiggy-like blonde and another tangential girl who plays the triangle. When Ali meets the girls, who are a little itchy on Sativa, she wonders if her hopeless brother should be keeping “juice boxes and string cheese” on hand. You know, “treats for the kids.”
Finally, there’s big sister Sarah (Amy Landecker, whose work you’ve admired in a million projects, though you probably can’t remember which ones exactly), who lives in a house fit for a Nancy Meyers movie and has a husband who forgets to say goodbye to her, the kids, and the nanny before leaving for work. When Sarah drops her kids off at their private school, she runs into a lesbian (Melora Hardin) from her past. When hot Tammy wonders if they should get together for a playdate, Sarah’s voice drops in vague disappointment: “Yeah, with the kids, great.”
The three kids are summoned unexpectedly to their father’s house in the hills. Ali thinks he’s getting engaged, a guess her brother rebuffs. “Dad’s a pussy hound,” he says with admiration. “Really, he’s a Marcy hound,” corrects Sarah, as the sibling catalogue the many Jewish Marcys from their divorced father’s past. If it’s not news of an engagement they’ve been gathered together for, they’re placing bets on cancer.
NEXT: Spoiler—it ain’t cancer