One of the best things about Please Like Me is that it doesn’t feel the need to use all of its cast if they don’t fit into the story organically. We did see all of the cast tonight, but “Pancakes With Faces” focused on Josh and Claire, with Tom and Ella holding up a sort of B-story. Arnold was absent because he went to have a trial run staying at his parents’ house for the first time since coming out, and Rose and Alan (plus Hannah and Mae by extension) are really only part of the story when they call Josh. Please Like Me is my favourite show on television right now precisely because it tells these intimate stories about people just trying to make it through life.
Abortion isn’t as heavily politicised in Australia (especially not in the cities) as it is in the United States. I don’t have any personal experience with the topic, but there were only two protesters outside the clinic that Josh and Claire visit. My state government has just passed a law that creates a buffer zone to exclude protesters from being within 150 metres of the clinic. This is all to say that there’s an ability to tell a story about abortion in Australia that there isn’t in the United States. I’m trying really hard to think of an abortion storyline from the past ten years, but I can’t think of any. Lots of women who go into have abortions are often saved from having to make a decision by miscarrying, but Please Like Me is a show that deals with the hard decisions you have to make when you start growing up.
Getting an abortion isn’t a decision that Claire makes lightly, which is beautifully conveyed in both the writing and Caitlin Stasey’s performance. Josh goes to see how she’s going in the morning, and she’s wondering if it would be a good idea to keep the baby and they could raise it together. Claire knows it’s a bad idea, but she needs Josh to tell her that. The last thing Claire wants is to resent that baby, and she knows she will. So, Josh makes her pancakes with faces, she puts on a nice dress, and they head to the clinic. Josh isn’t there for the first part of the appointment, because the doctors want to make sure that Claire is making her own decision. While he’s in the waiting room, Rose calls, telling him that she needs him to come and help come up with revenge plans for Stuart, who it appears is still happily married. Josh made a promise to Claire, and he keeps it twice – when both his parents called. He was there for her the whole weekend, and he didn’t tell anyone else about what she was going through. Josh can be a dick sometimes, as we saw in the doctor’s office with Denise Scott, but he is a good friend, and that’s exactly what Claire needed.
Claire also needed two other things: to be able to express her feelings without judgement, and to express her emotions in a physical way, and Josh and Tom give her both of those. Josh makes fried chickens and they talk about some feelings they’ve had that day. First Josh tells Claire that she made the right decision. Josh also thought about keeping the baby and buying it little sneakers, but no child of Claire’s will ever wear stupid shoes like that. More importantly, Claire was surprised that her politics didn’t make her decision any easier, and she feels guilty, partially because of the time she forgot to feed her fish Bert and Ernie and had to flush them down the toilet. Claire’s other form of release comes in the form of the cardboard city that the gang has been working on all season. Tom didn’t originally know what he was going to do with it, but at some point the decision was made to dress John up as a monster and have him crush it. Unfortunately John is a pacifist, and he calmly walks over the bridge of cars. Tom then offers Claire the opportunity to play Godzilla, and she does.
One of the moments from the trailer that always stuck out to me was Claire in the dinosaur onesie, and we finally had context for it. It looked like a celebration in the trailer, but it was actually catharsis. It wasn’t a triumphant moment, but it was what Claire needed at that point in time. Please Like Me is a show that realises that this act isn’t going to make Claire feel better in the long term. It’s going to take time, which is why Claire being able to crush a cardboard city means more in that moment. What we do know however, is that Claire is going to be okay, because her friends know that she’s sad and they’re going to be there for her. Tom doesn’t need to know why Claire is sad, he just wants to make her feel better, which is something all good friends do.
- Another thing that made Claire feel better was hearing about Rose’s botched revenge plan, as she only had enough spray paint to write “CUN” on Bob Franklin’s lawn.
- Speaking of Bob Franklin, if he was still married, why was he always at Rose and Hannah’s being rude to Hannah about her body and also mansplaining the proper care for Michael?
- Ella and Tom are officially a couple. Meh.
- Claire, when Rose calls about revenge plans just outside the clinic: “I thought you said she was getting better?”
Josh: “She is. She’s making plans for the future.”