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Please Like Me 2×03 “Parmigiana” Recap: Geoffrey Returns

After two episodes and a lengthy time lapse, Please Like Me quickly addresses the issue of Geoffrey.

Since coming back two weeks ago, Please Like Me has made sure the effects of its time jump have been felt. Josh has a new baby sister, his mother Rose now resides in a psychiatric hospital (…It’s funnier than it sounds), and he and his best friend Tom have a new roommate, Patrick, that Josh is… potentially rather partial to.

But none of that has had quite the effect that the return of Geoffrey did. He and Claire (Reign’s Caitlin Stasey) were the casualties of the time jump (27-year-old Josh Thomas believed that he couldn’t quite pull off playing 21 anymore), and more so than anything else, the strained conversation between Josh and Geoffrey made the lapse feel real.

Josh and Geoffrey always were an odd match. Geoffrey was too clingy and intense for Josh, with Josh seemingly emotionless in comparison- but Geoffrey was Josh’s first relationship with a man, and clearly, since Geoffrey called Josh after a tragedy (not that we know this at first), it meant a lot to him, too. He’s just better at voicing his feelings than Josh is. But, as was seen after the dinner that they shared together – at an Italian place because Josh knows how fussy Geoffrey is, a nice reminder of the familiarity between the two – maybe Geoffrey isn’t all that much better at voicing his feelings.

Geoffrey is no longer a recurring character in Please Like Me, and that, more so than anything else, felt like the defining moment of change for the show. He and Josh tried to stay friends, but as Geoffrey told him on a voicemail after he fled: “You don’t want to be friends.” It had been a year since they last had contact, and it took Geoffrey’s father dying for him to reach out for Josh again, the two falling into bed with each other, and Geoffrey crying in the aftermath, admitting to Josh about why exactly he had reached out: because he had just lost someone important – albeit someone he feels conflicted about (if I remember correctly, he barely had contact with his criminal father) – and he leaves Josh’s flat when Josh goes to find the two of them wine, insecure about his position in Josh’s life, and not finding any reassurance in the night’s events.

Josh does try to comfort him, but in the same way that he does to his father when his sister has a bout of purple poo after his babysitting – with difficulty. He cares, but not nearly as intensely as Geoffrey always has done. Something that has never made Josh look bad before, but as he sat, talking to Patrick in the living room after Geoffrey left, joking about why he was crying, and how it was to do with his penis… For the first time, in all of Please Like Me’s episodes… I didn’t like Josh.

Television runs a fine line, always, between changing so much that your favourite shows become unrecognizable, and not changing enough, creating stagnation and the feeling that you’ve seen these episodes before.

Please Like Me, I don’t think, is overly concerned with any of this. Josh Thomas just wants to make a good, funny show – and there’s no doubt that he’s succeeding, with the comedy being one of the best things on television right now.

But for me, “Parmiagana” portrayed an alternate perspective on Josh – one where he’s not, actually, a very nice person. That’s not all of his character, but it is the side that Please Like Me actually dared to display in this week’s episode. Or maybe it’s just that the audience, rather than Josh’s character as would have happened in traditional storytelling, have attached themselves to Geoffrey. Whatever it is, it shows, very clearly, that there are limits to Josh’s compassion. And with seven episodes left this season, it looks like we’re going to see how far those limits are stretched. Even the most seemingly apathetic characters have their breaking points (as seen with Josh’s reaction to Aunt Peg’s death in Season One), and although I’m never sure what’s to come with Please Like Me, or whether it will be particularly meaningful (I often prefer to just enjoy the show for what it is: an incredibly well-rounded comedy), I get the feeling that Josh’s boundaries – and Tom’s, through his reckless relationship with a high school girl – are going to be stretched this season.

What really matters, though, is how Please Like Me‘s characters’ react. As always, I look forward to seeing everything that this show offers.