While I was researching this article, I Googled quotes from Difficult People, and one of the links took me to a Pinterest search. The page was full of those vaguely inspirational quotes about dealing with difficult people. You know, the cheesy kind that people post on Instagram to prove they’re wise or enlightened, but they just end up sounding like overly sentimental assholes. And 90% of the time, the quotes aren’t even attributed to the correct source. One of the quotes read, “I am thankful for all those difficult people in my life. They have shown me exactly who I do not want to be.” I have to say this couldn’t be further off-base. The Difficult People in my life have shown me exactly who I want to be.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to watch Hulu’s Difficult People, you are truly missing out on something spectacular. Gabourey Sidibe as a restaurant owner who goes shopping for hats in the middle of the work day just to be whimsical. Seth Meyers as a gay dog park predator who distracts victims with blow jobs. Andrea Martin as one of those Upper East Side bullshit spiritualists. These are just a few of the show’s many brilliantly comedic highlights. But the brightest spot for me is most certainly Billy Eichner.
"The Difficult People in my life have shown me exactly who I want to be."
The Difficult People version of Billy is most certainly my spirit animal. He wants to break up with a guy because he’s a participator-you know, the kind of person whose hand shoots up EVERY time someone asks for a volunteer. He prefers time with his best friend over dinner with his family. He shows his disdain and disgust for younger gays by reading them for filth. At this point, I don’t understand how Billy is not one of my best friends.
He throws epic shade at his bitchy queen co-worker, Matthew. “I’m sorry that NAMBLA doesn’t have a ‘Ones To Watch’ section in their monthly newsletter that you could use as a press clipping.” If you don’t know what NAMBLA is, please Google it. You will then understand the epicness of this joke.
He doesn’t shy away from race or religion humor either. When he’s involved in a hit-and-run accident in which he takes down famed musician David Byrne (while riding with a black passenger), he utters “Well I am sure glad Dr. Cornel West isn’t around to see this.”
"What I love most about Billy and Eichner’s portrayal of him is how he shows that being gay isn’t always about being gay."
But what I love most about Billy Eichner’s portrayal of him is how he shows that being gay isn’t always about being gay. Yes, he dates. Yes, he loves Broadway. Yes, he’s quite often involved in a shade battle with Matthew. But he’s also an actor and a waiter. And a large part of his story (I’d say the majority) is about his quest for success in the world of entertainment. He is a gay person in the midst of a show about two people who are searching for their big break. He is not a gay person first who just happens to be searching for career success as a subplot. All too often, portrayals of gays on TV imagine them as people who are wholly obsessed with their sexuality and hardly exist outside of gay bars and gaggles of other gays. Billy’s life is eerily reminiscent of my own. And for that, he’s the gay character on TV that I identify with most.
I am waiting with baited breath for more shade, insults, and bad decisions when Billy brings us back into his not-gay gay world during Difficult People’s second season starting July 12.