Please Like Me, Season 3 Episode 7: “Puff Pastry Pizza”

On nearly any other show, Josh having casual sex with a man who has a cerebral aneurysm would end in disaster. Arnold would come home early from Maths Camp and discover the two of them in bed together and get mad, or we’d have a Turkish Ambassador on Downton Abbey situation. However, Josh and Arnold had an agreement about their open relationship, and Please Like Me isn’t the kind of show to have an almost stranger die in the protagonist’s bed. This is Josh’s life, and in the style of Please Like Me, “Puff Pastry Pizza” is a window into a moment of that life.

The episode begins with Tom finishing off his pinata of secrets. Instead of lollies, he’s put together a pinata for himself, Josh and Claire with all of their secrets in it. This is another thing I would have loved to watch a whole episode of, but I suspect that would have ended in hurt feelings, and Please Like Me is better than that (there’s a New Girl episode called “Secrets”, which I liked at the time, but it’s much more sitcom-y than this). Tom doesn’t know about the abortion, but he does know that Claire and Josh are hiding something from him, so he decides to make a game of it. We do find out some interesting things though: Tom knew that Josh was gay because he found porn on Josh’s computer when they were 18. Claire tells Josh that he stole her youth, and she’s exaggerating a little, but Josh says he thought it was just a phase. Tom also had Josh’s passport in his passport wallet while they were in Thailand and Josh had to go to the Australian embassy to get a new one. Also Claire’s mum isn’t a good cook. I don’t want to call these trivial, they’re a little more serious than that, but they seem completely trivial when they’re compared to the secrets that Josh and his hookup tell each other that night.

Josh has his first casual encounter with someone he’s met on some dating app, and he’s incredibly (and understandably) nervous. They have sex, Josh makes them pizza, they have more sex, and then Arnold calls Josh, and he has to tell the other guy that his boyfriend is calling. Josh asks his new friend if he’s ever been in love, and we suddenly hear the story of how he was in love with his best friend in high school and the feelings were mutual, and how that relationship ended casually. It’s just two men in the bath, talking about boyfriends and love, and it suddenly gets serious – he’s told Josh something that he’s never told anyone else. Later they’re out in the spa, and he asks Josh to tell him something that he’s never told anyone. First he tells the story about how he stole his Grade 5 teacher’s brooch and then buried it after she told the class it was her grandmother’s, before getting serious and saying that even though he knows his parents’ divorce was the right thing, sometimes he blames his dad for his mum’s mental illness, even though he knows it’s not true. Claire jumps in the spa for 15 seconds (more on that later), and then the man tells Josh that he has a cerebral aneurysm and wondered what would happen in Josh’s bed. All he can imagine is Josh meeting his mum and her not approving of him. These are the weird things you can talk about with a stranger you’ll most likely never see again – there’s an implied lack of judgement, and sometimes it’s easier to talk with someone you barely know than someone you’ve known for years.

While all of this is going on, Claire and Tom are at home and hiding in Tom’s room. They haven’t really talked since Claire got back from Germany, because Tom’s been busy with his new girlfriend, and Claire has been preoccupied. Claire is bored and wants to go somewhere and do something rather than play Tom’s game of penis/not penis (you have to guess whether the other person is thinking about a penis or something that is not a penis). Tom points out to Claire that all she does is move on when she gets bored, lonely or unhappy, because she thinks that a change of scenery will change things. This is a valuable insight from Tom, although he implies that she’s not making much of an effort to be entertained. Claire’s depression, mild though it may be, is something that started long before she got pregnant in Germany. She feels like her life doesn’t have any direction and that’s the kind of malaise that I can identify with, especially having been in a sort of in-between state for a while now. Anyway, Claire takes some of Tom’s advice and plays penis/not penis, although she adds some stakes: first person who gets to ten points wins, and the loser has to do a dare, which involves interrupting Josh’s date. Claire doesn’t need to talk about her feelings with Tom, but it doesn’t mean she’s not having fun. This episode suffers a bit from having Josh separate from his friends by spending the night with a stranger, but Please Like Me is such a great show that it doesn’t matter. Also anything that came after last week was bound to be a little disappointing, which is the mark of a good show.

Other thoughts

  • Arnold is at maths camp, and we don’t see him outside of his telephone conversation with Josh during the pinata scene, and at the end where he’s pondering going to the mall. It’s a conversation that most couples would have at one point or another in their relationship, and that’s what I like to see.
  • Arnold is relieved that Tom has finished the pinata, because Arnold has had to keep it a secred for however long Tom has been making it. I’m really enjoying the crafty side of Please Like Me, as well as the fact that Tom and Arnold have a friendship that is (somewhat) independent of Josh.
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