In the latest bit of outrage to hit the internet, some viewers are fired up about a joke in the pilot episode of Hulu’s new comedy series Difficult People (which debuted nearly a month ago) in which one of the main characters posts a tweet that reads “I can’t wait for Blue Ivy to be old enough for R. Kelly to piss on her.” The tweet exists only in the show world and isn’t real, but it’s still a nasty and brutal joke, and one which gets its creator in some serious trouble on the show and, as it turns out, in real life with stars Julie Klausner, Billy Eichner, and executive producer Amy Poehler all getting criticized for letting that bit make it to air. Some people have even flexed their internet muscles in an effort to have Hulu pull the show.
Here’s the thing, though, and this is maybe something that those who are in an uproar about the joke are missing: Difficult People is a show about characters who are not easy to like due to their feelings of entitlement, their steadfast notions of the world, and their general misanthropic nature. To sell those kinds of characters, they have to do seemingly despicable things and react in despicable ways when the world (in the show) responds. As depicted in the show, Billy and Julie are losers who think that bottling water from library water fountains is a solid gold idea. They ignore the needs of chemo patients to complain about their own petty woes and try to use injured veterans as a prop to settle personal scores. The faux Blue Ivy tweet isn’t among the ten worst things that they’ve done, and yet despite all of this, they actually jump past likeability and even become lovable due to the series’ superb construction and keen self-awareness. Is that a good thing when you consider all of their bad behavior including a faux tweet about a celebribaby whose wished for destiny is to be pissed upon by the “I Believe I Can Fly” guy? Can such actions be excused as mere “jokes” without social commentary about veterans or Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s baby? Maybe? It’s all subjective, just like this assessment of the show: Difficult People is the most biting, true, and above all, funny series to debut in years, and here are a few reasons why.