In difficult times, we need “Difficult People.”
The first two seasons of Hulu’s hysterical comedy starring Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner were wonderfully snarky. Eichner and Klausner play jealous wannabes, also named Billy and Julie, on the outer margins of show business, hurling hilarious insults at the rich and famous.
In the third season of “Difficult People,” which premiered Tuesday, celebrities are still a favorite target. Potshots are taken at everyone from David Blaine to Mario Lopez. After episode two, it’s pretty clear that Klausner will never, ever be asked to appear in a Woody Allen movie.
But something happened between Season 2 and Season 3, and Klausner and Eichner have found a new target-rich environment in Washington, D.C. for their bitchy barbs. That’s right, “Difficult People” gets political, making it, I think, the first sitcom to tackle life in the Trump era. And it is glorious.
In one episode, Julie has to get a prescription refilled at a “QuiznoClinic,” as the sandwich chain has started providing health care along with toasted subs now that Obamacare is repealed. “Ever since Trump replaced the Department of Health with Jenny McCarthy’s blog, nothing makes sense.”
In another episode, Billy signs up for Vice President Mike Pence’s Gay Conversion Program, which offers $6,000 to any gay person willing to turn heterosexual. The name of the program? “Six Pence None the Gayer.”
In a way, the shallow, self-involved characters Eichner and Klausner play are perfect foils for shallow, self-involved politics. They’re not trying to make any deeper points or join the #Resistance; they just want to get laughs at the expense of those who so richly deserve it. The jokes fly fast and furious on the show — the opening minute of the first episode of Season 3 has two great jokes that would be the high points on almost any show.
Yet while this season may be meaner than ever, it’s also somehow sweeter, finding moments of vulnerability in these characters. Klausner has a tender moment when her abrasive mother (the wonderful Andrea Martin) has a medical scare, and Eichner even gets a serious boyfriend played by John Cho of “Star Trek.”
And, while each episode has the characters go off on their own madcap subplots, they usually end with the two friends together, walking the streets of New York, making fun of everything and everyone they see. Because, in trying times, there’s nothing like a good friend who hates all the same things you do.
Also on streaming: Amazon’s new show “Comrade Detective” has quite an original concept, one that I hope doesn’t confuse casual viewers. It’s a parody of a 1980s Romanian cop show, with the grit and gloss of “Miami Vice” but almost ridiculously loyal to its communist overlords. Actors like Channing Tatum, Nick Offerman and Jenny Slate provide the English dubbing, and the result is a wicked satire on both cop shows and heavy-handed authoritarianism.
On Friday, Netflix debuts “Atypical,” a coming-of-age comedy series about a shy teenage boy (Keir Gilchrist) on the autism spectrum who yearns to have a girlfriend. The terrific Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Rapaport play his parents, and the show’s creators consulted with autism researchers to make the show authentic, while still funny and sweet.