The best comedies reside in darkness. The best moments from classics such as Roseanne and All In The Family, for example, are those where the comedy leans deeply into the drama, where grief and loss overtake the slapstick, and where humour serves as the light at the end of a humanity-stripped-bare tunnel.
One might imagine comedian and screenwriter Josh Thomas learned those lessons from the masters, assuming – given his age – he caught either of those shows in a television museum somewhere. But in truth they somehow come from deep in his own lived experience.
Please Like Me, the series he wrote and starred in for the ABC, drew from his own experiences with love, grief and loss, and presented them in the awkward but charming vessel of an Australian sitcom. Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, his new American comedy series, polishes them with American culture’s elevated production values and smoother edges. It somehow seems bigger but it’s not. The tonal points are all there.
Thomas plays Nicholas, a young, gay Australian man on holiday visiting his American father, and his two half-sisters, Matilda (Kayla Cromer) and Genevieve (Maeve Press). His father Darren (Christopher May) drops a bombshell cancer diagnosis with a grim outlook – he does not have long to live – and he is hoping Nicholas will become custodian of the two younger siblings.