Please Like Me, Season 3 Episode 10: “Christmas Trifle”

Taking care of everyone is exhausting, even though you love them. Especially if you love them, because you want to do it. This year we’ve seen Josh be the support for the majority of people who sat down to eat Christmas dinner with him, and all they do is poke fun at him. It makes perfect sense that he snaps. It’s not like the first season finale, when he attended Aunt Peg’s funeral on his 21st birthday, this is different. Being the perfect anything is its own burden. Combined with everything that’s going on with Arnold and his anxiety about Ben, it’s all just become too much, and Josh takes John with him to the park and eats trifle, which is a perfectly healthy way to respond to such a situation. Especially since it’s December and Christmas and probably absolutely boiling (I’m projecting Melbourne’s weather onto this show, but it is set in Melbourne, so I’m allowed. Also this is my blog).

Out of everyone on this show, Josh and Mae are the only people who are in a good place right now. Hannah’s self harming again, Rose is having a manic episode, Claire’s worried her life has no direction, Tom’s past relationship with Claire is getting between him and Ella, Arnold is worried that Josh is going to break up with him, and Alan is just being himself. As Josh points out, Mae is fine, and their relationship has always been one of my favourite on the show. Mae’s greatest concern right now is trying to get Grace to sleep, which involves not going to comfort her when she starts crying. I have no experience with this, but one of my siblings didn’t sleep well when they were a baby, and my mum said the hardest thing to do is let your child cry and not go and comfort them. She said she used to turn the dishwasher on at night to try and drown out the noise. Right now Josh and Mae are in the same position in that everyone is judging their decisions. My favourite moment here is when Claire points out that everyone’s judging Mae, but Alan’s not being criticised at all. Please Like Me points out the sexism in the situation without harping on about it, and it’s one of the things I love about this show.

When we left Josh and Arnold at the Docklands last week, the Ben situation had caused a rift, but they were mostly doing okay. Arnold’s anxiety however, has gotten in the way. He may have been the one who suggested an open relationship, but at that point in time he was in a good place, and of course Josh’s first casual hookup would want to see him just before he has brain surgery. Arnold’s been living with Josh and Tom because he can’t stay at home, so he worries that he’s homeless. The anxiety is too much. Josh was going to ask him to move in for real, but he doesn’t know whether that’s real or not, because the worst thing about mental illness is that it’s telling you things you know aren’t true, but build on the 1% of doubt in your mind. When Josh and Arnold were preparing Christmas dinner, Arnold dropped the gravy (Josh made it himself, he’s not a douchebag) and Josh covered for him. Arnold thought that the gravy would be the thing to make Josh break up with him, because the anxiety is blowing that 1% out of proportion. Arnold says why he likes Josh – he does nice things like cover the gravy situation, and then everyone’s mad to learn that there was gravy. So he calls his parents and asks to spend Christmas with them in awkward silence and tells Josh that he can’t move in.

Then Josh goes back to discover that Claire has told Rose his true relationship with Ben and that’s it. He’s had enough, and his outburst was 100% justified. We saw in “Simple Carbohydrates” that Josh is the one his parents are calling for advice, and then he cooks Christmas dinner for him and they pick on him. It seems like the reverse of a normal parent-child relationship, apart for the endless nosiness about everything that’s going on in his life. When you’re supporting everyone else, you need someone to support you – think about what he’s done for everyone this season (minus Hannah and Ella): he listened to his mum rant about Stewart, he helped his dad through Mae cheating on him, he was with Claire while she had an abortion, and he hatched a crazy scheme for Tom so Ella wouldn’t find out that she had chlamydia. He also helped Arnold, but that’s different. So when Arnold’s gone, he can’t take it – apart from Mae, there’s no one on his side. So Josh does what will make him happiest on Christmas day – he takes his dog to the park and eats trifle, which is one of three desserts he made for the people he loves – they still have a pavlova. Like all of Please Like Me, “Christmas Trifle” is sad and funny at the same time, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. And let’s face it, don’t we all feel a bit like this at Christmas time, even if we love it?

Other thoughts:

  • I miss Aunt Peg. I get that the first season had an arc, and her funeral was sad and funny at the same time, but she became more than just a comic relief character.
  • For those of you that didn’t know, that is Josh’s actual dog John, they didn’t get a stage dog or whatever. At the end of his standup show Surprise! Josh brought John onstage and did The Lion King thing.
  • The way Alan was complaining about the ice and that Tom was supposed to get it fit in well with Josh’s annoyance that Tom does things wrong and never takes responsibility for it. Kind of like the chlamydia thing.
  • Ella is Jewish, so that’s something we know about her. I’m with Josh, she should have left, but her self esteem issues are preventing that from happening. I hope we get more into Ella’s psyche whenever they decide to make another season.
  • Spoiler for my best of 2015 list: this is my favourite show of the year. It has its bumps, but “Pancakes With Faces” is easily one of the best things I’ve seen all year.
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