It’s hard to talk about Pamela Adlon and her FX show Better Things without talking about how her working relationship with Louis CK opened the door for it. That much is clear from Adlon’s New Yorker profile: The two worked together on Louie and other projects, and it was CK who “pitched Adlon as a showrunner” to his show’s network, FX; he also originally served as a co-writer and executive producer on the show.
An uncharacteristic sense of horror seems to come over Adlon, who is hilarious and high-spirited, when she starts talking about CK. He apparently warned her about the New York Times report detailing how he once masturbated in front of two women comics, but she says no reporters called to ask her about the allegations:
A few days before the news broke, C.K. phoned Adlon and warned her that “people were calling people he knew” about reports of sexual misconduct. Although Adlon was his closest collaborator, she says that she was not contacted by any reporters. FX cancelled its extensive deal with C.K. and his production company. “What’s happening? What’s happening?” Adlon remembered thinking.
That didn’t last. Now, Adlon says, women in his orbit—Sarah Silverman, Chloe Grace Moretz, even Adlon’s 21-year-old daughter, Gideon—are asked to weigh in. Maybe because both Adlon seems to realize this is unfair to women—and because she seems sympathetic to CK. (“I don’t think there’s anything that can compare with a massive public shaming like that”)—Adlon seems reluctant to really get into it, although it takes up a great deal of the profile. Her self-awareness comes across, though, when Adlon recognizes that nothing will erase her history of working with CK, and that distancing herself from him (she released a statement about CK’s “abhorrent behavior” and replaced him on her show with four new writers) will be a longer project:
Adlon describes the period after the news broke in the same extreme terms as she does the time of her divorce. (“These men,” she said, her voice dripping with disgust.) “I’ve had a few 9/11s in my life, including the real 9/11,” she told me one evening, driving her Audi Q5 S.U.V. from her post-production studio to dinner at a hip Thai restaurant on Sunset Boulevard. “It felt like the world was ending,” she said. “I was his champion and he was my champion for ten years.” She paused. “And then you’ve got these women, who’ve all been through these things. And you’re, like, what does that mean? What did you do?”
She also vehemently denies that CK ever sexually harassed her:
“Oh, no. You mean, did he do this to me?” Adlon said, and shook her head. I pointed out that she had appeared in multiple shows with C.K. that explore unwanted sexual approaches and compulsive masturbation. “Ewww!” Adlon shrieked. “Don’t say ‘masturbation.’ Oh, my God!” C.K. seems to be the one subject that draws squeamishness out of Adlon.
Adlon seems rightfully disgusted with CK, secure in her decision to stop working with him, and perhaps above all, eager not to work out her feelings about it all in public. She admits that she knew about the rumors that CK masturbated in front of women without their consent before the Times’s story came out (Jezebel and Gawker reported on them), but wasn’t sure what to do about it:
“I was aware,” she said. “There’s certain things— Do I lay everything bare? I don’t know how to respond. All you can do is, when you know somebody you confront them.”
Adlon struggles with the fact that, while cutting off contact with CK was the right thing to do, a certain part of her life is over—a complicated and morally ambiguous response to a situation borne out of, Adlon herself admits, morally reprehensible actions on CK’s part. That tension is weaved throughout her profile, and in all likelihood, isn’t going away anytime soon:
I asked if she is still in contact with C.K. “No, I’m not,” she said. “But I hate saying that. If I said, ‘Oh, yeah, I talk to him every day,’ or ‘No, I’m not,’ both are awful. But I haven’t spoken to him in quite a long time.”
Read the full thing here.