Can two miserable misanthropes ever really be happy? That’s the question driving the upcoming season of Difficult People, Hulu’s snark-crazy comedy that follows aspiring comedy writer Julie (series creator Julie Klausner) and aspiring actor Billy (Billy Eichner) as they continue to pursue their dreams of stardom — or not — in the Big Apple.
In the third season, dare we say the pair are making progress?
For Billy, this means being confronted with the classic conundrum every actor faces: Should I move to L.A.? “He’s having a hard time this season figuring out whether or not he still wants to keep going for it in New York,” Eichner tells EW.
Obviously, the addition of John Cho as Billy’s first serious boyfriend, Todd, an alpha jerk who works at an ad agency, further complicates this decision. “I think the introduction of Todd is a really nice way of humanizing the conflict he has of, should I leave or stay in New York,” says Klausner. “I think that we get to see him be more vulnerable, and I think the more vulnerable our characters are, the more successful the show is because no one wants to watch someone who is bulletproof be mean for half an hour.”
She continues, “We wanted people, knowing Billy, to see how he would react to those rights of passage and also speak to a certain amount of fear of commitment and stuff that transcends heteronormative relationships and is pretty universal, actually.”
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In crafting the character of Todd, Klausner, executive producer Scott King, and Eichner wanted someone who could hold his own against the two caustic leads. “It came around to this theme of boxing your weight, that he could stand up to Billy and we had to figure out, what’s a way for a guy to not be a third wheel between me and Billy? How could Billy and I like somebody else besides each other?” says Klausner.
Furthermore, if there’s one thing they didn’t want to do it was to use Cho’s character to create tension for the show’s main duo. “I think that’s kind of a clichéd road to go down. Julie is happy that Billy has finally found someone,” says Eichner. “There is a moment this season when they hit a bit of a crossroads, not having to do with John’s character, but having to do with their future in general.”
Like Billy, Julie is also trying to figure out what the future holds for her in season 3. Part of that journey means learning to be happy without depending on medication. She’s on so many antidepressants that her blood has taken on a Slurpee-like consistency, and in the season premiere, her doctor withholds her annual Passover dosage bump because increasing it will kill her. Turning her pursuit of happiness into a project, Julie tries everything from revisiting her improv comedy days to ayahuasca.
“It’s definitely rooted in the truth around the characters being unhappy and what that means when you’re challenging that part of yourself,” says Klausner.
Difficult People returns Aug. 8 on Hulu.