In its second season, Better Things continues to be one of the most consistently rewarding shows on-air, and it's episodes like Thursday's "Eulogy" that prove why.
After highlighting Sam's (Pamela Adlon) hard work teaching an acting class and filming a commercial, the episode jumps to Sam relaxing at home, watching TV with her three kids and best friends, Rich (Diedrich Bader) and Tressa (Rebecca Metz). While channel surfing, they come across one of Sam's many projects but, uninterested in seeing her mom's work, Max (Mikey Madison) flips right passed it. Rich jokes that Sam's kids "will love you when you're dead," but Sam decides she doesn't want to wait that long.
She turns off the TV and tells her daughters that "it really sucks that [they] don't give a sh--" about her work. Her kids insist that they are proud of her and promise they'll say everything she wants to hear at her funeral, but that isn't good enough for Sam. Upset when her kids won't express their feelings now, Sam storms out of the house and seeks solace at a bar. When she eventually returns, she comes home to find the entire living room set up as a faux funeral for her and Duke (Olivia Edward), who, as the youngest, didn't want her mom to be dead without her.
One by one, each of Sam's daughters proceed to eulogize their mother in one of the most heart-wrenching scenes of television this year. "It was intense," Adlon tells TV Guide of filming the funeral scene. "It was just like hours, hours of everybody just bawling, losing it and feeling all these levels... I had chills."
Adlon explains that the concept of the eulogy was born out of real conversations with one of her best friends, which she simply brought to life for the series. "I'll talk about my daughters or something intense that's happening and she's like, 'they'll love you when you're dead'... And other times people say, 'oh, [your daughters are] going to get along great when they're in their 20s. And I'm like, no. I want it now! I don't want to be loved when I'm dead," says Adlon, who directed "Eulogy" and every episode of Season 2.
"And you know, it was interesting to see Sam hard at work, doing two different things — she's teaching this acting class and then she's in a commercial — and then she's with her daughters and her daughters are like, 'It's fine. Oh, you always make it about yourself,'' Adlon recalls. "And it was really fun to be able to explore that all in that same episode.
But for the actors, filming the scene was anything but fun. "While we were filming that scene, all my sanity left me," says Hannah Alligood, who plays the middle child, Frankie. "Just like, the hours of just crying and all this intensity."
"I'm a very emotional person, but when I see other people cry, it makes me cry," Madison says. "And so I saw Pamela getting really teared up, and hearing the girls eulogize Sam was so emotional to me because I thought if it was my own mother, what I would think."
"It made me go home and think about my relationship with my brothers and my mom," Madison continues — a sentiment which was echoed by Olivia Edward, who plays Sam's youngest daughter, Duke. "You realize how much you love the people who know," Edward says.
Better Things airs Thursdays at 10/9c on FX.