Please Like Me is probably the most adorable, realistic Australian show to come out in recent years, and yet, it’s nowhere near as popular as it should be. This series that started off as a show about a guy realizing he was gay, has quickly evolved into one big family of conflicted characters that made the Season 3 finale, the most entertaining 30 minutes of television I have watched this year.
WARNING: This review includes spoilers for the whole series
When thinking about what to say when talking about this third season, I can’t help but keep remembering things from ‘Christmas Trifle’. In fact, the finale is the perfect reflection of what this season has been and, in a way, the episode in which everything ties perfectly. Season 1 dealt with Josh’s sexuality while introducing the main characters. Season 2 was probably my least favourite, as I felt that many of the things that made the show great were lost when Claire was sent away and if focused on characters from the mental hospital instead. Still, everything that happened back then was what made Season 3 possible and so, so awesome.
Hannah and Arnold are still here and their problems haven’t gone away. Even though Arnold is in a loving, sincere relationship with Josh, and has gotten better at dealing with social situations, he still has the occasional panic attacks if something very distressful happens. Thankfully, Josh has mastered the art of keeping him calm. Hannah, despite having found a good friend and housemate in Rose, is still dealing with her depression and low self-esteem. Compared to last season, we didn’t get many new characters this time, except for Ella and Ben. Ben was more present in conversations than on camera, and Ella seemed like a copy of Niahm at times, although much more likable. The truth is that this season didn’t need to introduce many new characters as it already had all the right elements. And we didn’t need to make that Christmas dinner any more stressful, thank you very much.
There was one big difference this time around: Josh has an actual serious, mature relationship. Josh loves Arnold, and he’s finally able to be vocal about his feelings. He understands him and his needs. Josh and Arnold are not only lovers, but also really good friends. This is a very important step for Josh and his love life, and one that wouldn’t be possible without some character development.
The weakest point of this season would be Josh’s parents, Alan and Rose. While their stories were very entertaining in the first season, I didn’t feel the same about them this time around. Mae cheating on Alan lmost seemed like a pointless conflict to give the characters something to do. Rose is still on her medication, but she’s getting better and she’s also a good company for Hannah. At least she’s not suicidal anymore!
Season 3 also included all the elements that make this such a great show: it’s character-driven, and its characters are all so damn likable! Among the highlights of this season: all of them singing Adele, Arnold recreating a scene from Love Actually, running for no reason while being high, or Alan asking Josh if he’s a good father while talking on the roof. There was also time for some real, taboo conversations like Claire’s abortion or Ella talking about how all vaginas are beautiful. Please Like Me doesn’t really need anything else, as it’s already great at telling it like it is.
However, the realest moment came in ‘Christmas Trifle’, an episode that works as a perfect reflection of what this season has been. It seemed like everyone had finally settled down and like everyone was finally OK with their situation… except not. Let’s be honest, these people pick on each other A LOT. And that can seem OK when you’re among friends and you know it’s meant to be a joke, but there’s always a limit. Some things can actually hurt, and sometimes there’s just things you don’t want to talk about. Aside from delivering one of the most awkward, intense Christmas lunch scenes ever, the whole episode also served to showcase just how much Josh’s character has grown. It’s the first time we see Josh, actual ray of sunshine Josh, get all worked up over something and telling people off. That really caught me off guard. Josh actually went on and listed all the problems that came up not only during this episode, but that have also been dragging on all season. And, when you think about it, there’s actually a lot: Ben, Mae’s methods of parenting, Claire being alone, Tom
and Ella‘s issues, Hanna, Arnold’s anxiety… Many of these things are not laughing matters, and the time has come for Josh to say “enough”.
The thing is that, as surprising as Josh’s speech was, it didn’t come out of nowhere. We have actually seen a much more mature Josh this season, not only because he’s made up his mind about his sexuality and his love life, but because he’s also taken the role of caretaker of everyone else. He’s solving their parents’ problems, being there for Claire, helping Arnold through his panic attacks, and even feeling responsible for Ben. The last thing he needed was everyone criticizing his Christmas cooking. Or his nostrils.
Season 3 is a natural progression for the series. The characters have gone through many things, but there’s still so much to learn. Feelings were being bottled up, conflicts were being ignored, and everything kept building up until it finally exploded in the finale. And Josh was acting like the only real adult in the room. How the tables have turned!