In this day and age of television when there’s an ocean full of shows, series and mini-series with varying genre, what we need the most is something that would resemble the reality of a common human being more than anything else. Please Like Me is an ode to the commonality of a human being’s life and the realness of feelings and emotions.
Please Like Me is a little show that shows us the life of Josh Thomas, an Australian comedian, and his best-friend Thomas Ward, an Australian writer, with a fictionalized version of themselves. At first the show seems mostly a personal anecdote about the creator’s life, relationships, friends and families – all of which sounds pretty ordinary and basic and perhaps even uninteresting. And who wants to watch a show about some unknown personality and be bored by their personal life when we have so much in our own lives going on? But it is this banality and ordinariness that makes the show stand out from every other piece of televised art. Please Like Me basks in the glory of how perfectly and brilliantly it exposes the ordinary aspects of us human beings and is the perfect depiction of a real reality.
The show is nothing less than a rollercoaster ride of feelings and emotions as it uncovers many taboo topics in humorous and heartfelt ways and brings us to terms with these things in a way where we feel as if they were our own reality. Josh, who is also the creator of the show, shows us how he, and his fictionalized character, both come to terms with their sexuality through the course of many episodes. Josh, who is first in a relationship with a woman, is put through a breakup after his girlfriend tells him that he is gay and he continues to deny the fact that he might be gay even though he himself knows it deep down. The few next episodes show us how Josh comes to term with his own sexuality as he goes from guy to guy and discovers what he really likes and what he doesn’t.
Please Like Me doesn’t only tackle the taboo of homosexuality and sexuality in general but also tackles topics like suicide, depression and other psychological disorders. In a scene which generally would be hyped and over-sensationalized to create a very emotional and heart-wrenching moment, this show does it perfectly when a character shares something very traumatic with other characters in a very light and easy way but also in a perfect manner that it sends the message home and also makes us more attached to the character. The scene occurs in the second season when Josh visits his mother in a mental home and he ends up playing a game with his mother and her fellow patients, albeit friends, in which the person with the weirdest first-sex/losing-virginity story gets the last piece of chocolate which Josh brought for his mother, originally. After Josh, Rose (his mother), Ginger (a fellow patient and friend) are done telling their first times, they turn towards Hannah (fellow patient and friend, played by Hannah Gadsby) for her first-time story, we are made to come to terms with the realness of human emotions. Hannah says, “I was raped”. And it shows the brilliance of this show in this very moment when it very softly touches this topic and dissects it enough for us to absorb it whole and then brings us back to the pleasantness of Please Like Me by another dialogue by Hannah where she says in contrast to when Josh apologizes for her mother’s decision to play this game without being aware of her situation. “No, I don’t mind. I just knew, the whole time you were talking, I was going to get the chocolate”, Hannah finishes her line with a soft smirk which both shakes us to our core about her situation and also makes us feel glad that she has survived something so horrific.
Having just found this show on Netflix, it instantly hooked me in as I binged watched the first two seasons in one night alone. This show is a perfect example of what television should be and it surely sets a standard that normally shows don’t reach nowadays. Among shows like Mr. Robot, BoJack Horseman, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, this show stands shoulder to shoulder and becomes a shining light in the fight for destigmatizing these taboo topics.
In Episode 7 of Season 2, we see the sheer ordinariness of this show and how brilliantly it is written and thought out. The episode titled ‘Scroggin’ reminds you of BoJack Horseman’s Episode 6 of Season 5 titled ‘Free Churro’. In this episode, Josh and mother Rose go on a hiking trip to Tasmania and they open up about a lot of things in their lives and come to terms with a lot more. Both son and mother are shown sleeping in a tent in their own sleeping bags and Josh’s mother cries every night and Josh stays silent beside her listening to her but unable to do anything to help with her mental pain shows us a lot about human beings and the human psyche. On a different night, during the same occurrence, they both indulge in a very small conversation as his mother starts to laugh in the middle of her cries and ends up farting which makes Josh laugh out as well and it makes us, the audience, laugh through the tears in our eyes. Please Like Me is a show that breaks your heart for you then puts it back together piece by piece, very slowly, over the course of the whole show.
It is a perfect example of pure and honest depiction of mental illnesses, relationships, life, career and human beings, in general. Please Like Me is a show that is meant to be watched by everyone, but especially by those in their 20s as it can give them a lot more insight into their own lives and can teach them how to get through their growing years. And if you don’t really like the show, at least you will grove to the title song along with the characters as the title card and credit plays out, every episode. Now while the show ended 4 years ago, Josh Thomas, the creator, is coming back with another show titled ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’ to show us his brilliance and excellence at expressing the depths of human emotions and feelings.
Yusuf Aziz is a student pursuing Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Shaireen Khan
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.