FX debuts a pair of new comedies the first week of September -- Donald Glover's "Atlanta" on Sept. 6 and Pamela Adlon's "Better Things" on Sept. 8. Both are a lot like Louis C.K.'s "Louie" in the sense that they are largely autobiographical tales told from the perspective of their respective creator/stars.
But while "Atlanta" differs from "Louie" in tone -- not that that's a criticism -- "Better Things" is a perfect "Louie" substitute while fans await that show's to return to FX.
"Better Things," which counts C.K. as a creator, focuses on Adlon's Sam Fox, a divorced mother of three girls who had some success in show business as a child and is now trying to continue working in a Hollywood that increasingly does not care about women of a certain age.
The show deftly skewers the entertainment business while not really veering into satire territory. There are satirical moments here and there, like David Duchovny playing an exaggerated version of himself, but more often it feels all too real about what it's like being an actress in her 40s.
What resonates even more is Fox's home life, with a far-too-precocious eldest daughter, an activist in the making middle daughter and a youngest girl who still wants to be mom's baby (for now). Throw in Fox's mother, played by the wonderful Celia Imrie, and "Better Things" is a beautiful family comedy that does not shy away from what's both frustrating and wonderful about raising kids and dealing with your parents even when you are one.
Finally, while "Better Things" doesn't really focus on Adlon's love life, it is part of the show because in addition to being an actor and a mom, Fox is also single and (sometimes) ready to mingle. But much like taking a hard look at what it's like for an actress in her 40s, the show is also very frank about what it's like for a woman to be dating in her 40s. Hollywood is an unforgiving town in a variety of ways.
To call "Better Things" a "female version of 'Louie'" is inaccurate; the subject matter and perspective of Adlon's show are strictly her own. But in dialogue, tone and style, it feels very similar and could possibly be FX's next award-winning show.
"Better Things" premieres Thursday, Sept. 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.