Difficult People Season 2, Episode 1 Recap: Billy & Julie Get Unplugged

Photo: Courtesy of Hulu.
“So this is what a gym looks like,” Julie says as Billy explains the basics of gay dating at the gym, and they proceed to say the absolute meanest things anyone has ever thought about Anne Hathaway. And so begins season 2 of the most New York-centric show in the television universe, about a TV recapper and a stand-up comedian.

Difficult People ups its guest star game with its sophomore premiere, packing in appearances by John Mulaney, Tina Fey, and Sandra Bernhard. Mulaney, playing Cecil Jellford, um, pops into frame as the most recent in a string of guys to give Billy a blowie in the gym shower. Billy's indiscretions have caused him to break up with a lot of gyms, we learn, so he's committed to dating Cecil. For about 15 minutes, until they meet on the sidewalk and Billy discovers he's an "old timey," which appears to be a type of person who fetishizes the 1940s by dressing in period attire with full commitment to the pre-WWII lifestyle. It's also a double-sided dig at hipsters and their embrace of "authenticity" and those New York Times weekend trend pieces that we all read, even though we know they're trolling us with the oddball slices of life they prodigiously uncover.

After a run-in with a fellow recapper turned TV writer named Heather, Julie is feeling jealous enough to scam her way into a Jewish networking group headed by showrunner Lilith Feigenbaum (Bernhard). The story line offers an explainer of traditional Shabbat, which requires Jews to rest from Friday evening to Saturday. This TV power group uses it as a time to unplug and get new ideas — a serious challenge for internet-addicted Julie. One of the most accurate jokes of the episode comes when Julie enlists her husband, Arthur, to be in charge of her internet presence while she's not allowed online. “Arthur, Google my name. Only read me glowing praise," Julie says. "Scrolling, scrolling," he replies...and scene.
Advertisement
We also get to meet the neo-Nazi neighbor from whom Julie steals WiFi, an encounter that's going to pay off right at the very end of the episode. But while we wait, Billy discovers that Cecil is a jelly-bean heir (this, surprisingly, does not stretch credulity for the random ways NYC trust-funders make family money). The ensuing Pretty Woman montage, complete with continuous mocking of Julia Roberts' infamous laugh, is a snarky gag that makes the episode worth watching.

Enter guest star Tina Fey, as herself, kind of. She's directing an episode of The Blacklist ("...which is a dream come true. For my agent"). This is a c-plot story that seemingly goes nowhere, but if you're a fan of 30 Rock, it's gratifying as hell.

Gird your loins, because all the loose ends at play here are about to come together in classic sitcom style. Julie brings her writing group to Cecil's old-timey party, because they don't believe a person like that could possibly exist, let alone be the basis for a TV show idea. Billy breaks up with Cecil because he is finally sent over the edge by the swarth of old timeys at the party. Billy lets him down gently, however, so that he doesn't have to break up with their shared gym and its three kinds of water: normal, lemon, and cucumber.

After a peek at these awful Brooklyn old timeys, powerful showrunner Lilith buys in and tells Julie they're going to pitch a concept to Netflix (good dig, considering Difficult People is on Hulu and this show idea sounds awful!). Julie, who is wearing a wool outfit from Eileen Fisher to fit in with the group, has an allergic reaction and gives Cecil a double wink while asking him to show her around his house. This harks back to an earlier joke about antique collectors wanting the secret sign to show you their Nazi memorabilia and clears up why her neo-Nazi neighbor is wandering around the party. Billy winds up breaking up with this gym, and this being Seinfeld...oh sorry, Difficult People, Julie gets caught high-fiving Billy by Lilith in a shot that looks like a Nazi salute and is barred from the Jewish writing cartel. Cecil's parting shot to Julie of, "Kathy Griffin, I love your work," is obviously a shout-out to her real-life Twitter hecklers.

It's back to a life of being recapper trash for Julie, and it's off to Curves in Staten Island for Billy.
Advertisement

More from TV

Two episodes into the third season of How To Get Away With Murder, we're one step closer to finding out who dies in the fire at Annalise's (Viola Davis) ...
We've written extensively about how all the American Horror Story seasons are linked. But we didn't realize that Roanoke would be the Rosetta Stone through...
Lip Sync Battle just released a clip to promote its next season, and it features a pretty impressive performance. A large cast of celebrities including ...
The 2016 Emmy Awards were off to a great start when a surprising announcement came over the loudspeaker. A voiceover announced the next presenter: none ...
Real feminist Portland bookstore In Other Words has had enough of the fake feminist Portland bookstore portrayed on Portlandia. The sketch in question ...
HBO has a big problem on its hands. Its flagship show, the most-watched in the channel's history, is ending. So however Game of Thrones comes to its ...
Rumor had it that while Carrie and Samantha were friends on-screen, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall were enemies behind the scenes. But Parker ...
Kimmy Schmidt lives in her own world. It's a cross between middle school, the year 1999, and present-day New York. Mix in the fact that she was held ...
Olivia Pope has joined Angelina Jolie's legal team — sort of. According to People, Jolie has hired Judy Smith, the real woman that Pope's character was...
Malek's gloomy peepers once haunted Stars Hollow. He played a Seventh-Day Adventist named Andy and he rocked a pretty sweet sweater vest
Remember when TV couples slept in twin beds and everyone pretty much assumed that Little Ricky was the product of some immaculate conception? Remember when...
Adventure time is ending after season 9? Why does Cartoon Network hate us? #AdventureTime #cartoonnetwork— the yarheeguy (@HT_yarheeguy) September 29, ...
Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for season 6 of American Horror Story. Let's be honest: The best part of any American Horror Story season ...
This story contains minor spoilers for the premiere of Westworld. Beware! There's an unnerving moment about halfway through the premiere episode of HBO'...