How Pamela Adlon captures the drudgery — and fleeting beauty — of parenting on ‘Better Things’

Pamela Adlon of “Better Things” has a surprising choice when asked about a classic show she would love to have been on.


After years of doing voice work (she brought Bobby Hill to life for 13 seasons on “King of the Hill”) and writing, producing and acting on Louis C.K.’s series “Louie” and raising her three daughters as a single mom, Pamela Adlon earned a showcase of her own with the FX comedy “Better Things.”

Adlon, in a recent video interview at The Times, said the series came along at the perfect time in her life. At age 50, she was ready and had plenty to say.

“I always tell young people when I’m trying to encourage them, ‘You have certain windows in your life and you have to take advantage of it.’” Adlon says. “‘You gotta jump through because they will shut on you.’ ”


Adlon adds she enjoys talking to students and young adults because, unlike her own three daughters, they actually give her a tangible response — and maybe some appreciation.

“My kids, I think they take it in, but they’re not like, ‘Oh tell me more, wise Mommy,’ ” she says, laughing.

Adlon also spoke about parenting — both on the show and in real life — and how, amid the relentless drudgery of the job (shown to such perfect effect, scored to Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman,” in the “Better Things” Season 1 finale), you need to bathe in those fleeting times of connection.

“It’s massively important,” Adlon says. “Like in the scene where I’m watching my daughter do ballet … it makes me emotional because my kids are all older now … when I’m smiling at her, it’s because she’s smiling at me and she’s sharing that moment with me. It’s so hard when you’re a parent to share those pure moments with your kids.”

Getting emotional yet? No? What if we told you that there’s a movie (or, more precisely, a “huge amount of movie”), written by Adlon and Louis C.K. that’s just sitting in a computer? (“We gotta look at that one of these days,” Adlon says.) That gets us teary-eyed.

Anyway, there’s much more — tidbits from the upcoming season, the origins of the “Louie” bath scene she shared with C.K, how binge-watching “Breaking Bad” delayed the start of “Better Things” — in the full interview, which you can watch here. Have a tissue handy.

Pamela Adlon, creator, writer, director and star of “Better Things,” says, “It was the exact right moment” for her FX show.


Twitter: @glennwhipp