Last month, Josh Thomas confirmed that the recently aired Season 4 would be the final outing for Australian comedy Please Like Me, which Thomas both wrote and starred in. I only discovered the show last week and it took me only a week to finish. Similar to shows like You’re the Worst and Bojack Horseman, Please Like Me managed to be both hilarious as well as a devastating drama.
(Super spoilers, do not read if you haven’t finished the series and care about that kind of thing.)
The show covered a lot of heavy topics across its four year run, including Thomas’s own homosexuality as well as mental illness, abortion and suicide. This sounds weighty and it probably is, but along with the aforementioned shows, Please Like Me always handled these themes with surprising grace and care, while delivering genuine laughs at the same time.
The series began with the attempted suicide of Josh’s mother, Rose, and her arc has always been one of the most interesting on the show. Her portrayal of mental illness was very affecting to watch and one of the series’ most thoughtful episodes featured her and Josh on a camping trip together, where they finally talk openly about their feelings on her illness. It’s brutal at times, but ultimately there’s growth.
It was only fitting, however, that where it started with Rose only attempting suicide, it ended with her succeeding. Despite all the jokes and the happy moments, mental illness isn’t something that can so easily be solved and Rose’s death in the penultimate episode is one of the most devastating and powerful moments I’ve had watching television in so long. The scene where Josh discovers his mother is itself cleverly shot, almost exactly reflecting a similar moment in Season 1 when Josh found Rose unconscious but fortunately only sleeping.
Personal tragedy and loss is something almost all of us are familiar with and something Please Like Me has tackled several times in the show’s run. The raw intensity that the show handles the event with is actually painful to watch unfold, but it’s the appropriate way to end the series. How does someone move forwards after something like that? We don’t get all the answers and we never will. Rose’s ex-roommate Hannah is left blaming herself for not being there and she’ll never get closure on that. It’s also interesting that Josh never reads his mum’s suicide note on-screen, keeping with the lack of closure.
All of which is why I truly like the season finale as a series finale. Josh goes to therapy, helps his dad connect properly to his ex-wife’s death, sells her house and invests in a place of his own, slowly moving forwards with life. There’s no romantic reconciliation with long-term love interest Arnold, which is sadly fitting and not something I expected. Their break-up earlier in the season was an incredible scene and just as in life, there’s no easy fixes.
Please Like Me was definitely an underrated gem of a show that I am sad to discover as it was finishing. While definitely fitting into a very specific niche for viewers, I found Please Like Me incredibly easy to binge, especially now it’s on Netflix, but I almost wish I’d slowed down a bit now that it’s over. But it is absolutely worth a watch and manages to prove once again that comedies keep making the most powerful and effective drams.
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