“Using God and religion to get a staffing job? I mean, can I really sink that low?” The question, posed by Difficult People ‘s Julie Kessler (a rough approximation of the actress who plays her, Julie Klausner), isn’t a serious one. Immediately after pondering whether it would be ethical to attend synagogue just to connect with an influential showrunner, Julie and her best friend, Billy Epstein (Billy Eichner), burst into hysterical laughter.
In Difficult People, the Hulu original series created by Klausner, Julie and Billy play a couple of jaded New York City comedians who worship at the altar of celebrity. Its second season doubles down on the stinkface bitterness and A-list cameos of the first: The season premiere, available on the streaming service as of today, features John Mulaney as Billy’s boyfriend — an “old-timey” who rides a penny farthing bicycle — Sandra Bernhard as TV showrunner Lilith Feigenbaum, and Tina Fey as herself. The second, also available today, features a memorable appearance by Nathan Lane, who agrees to stick his hand in a public toilet — for charity, Billy and Julie assure him, although they’re really just hoping to go viral. And the wonderful Andrea Martin is perfectly cast as Julie’s therapist mom, Marilyn.
Difficult People‘s bread and butter are its biting allusions to the business we call show. We’ve compiled the 20 best showbiz references — some real, some deliciously made-up — from the first two episodes of Season 2.
Season 2, Episode 1: “Unplugged”
1. “If instead of showers they had the Hemsworth brothers just spitting at you and calling you a dirty whore, it would be too good to be true.” – Billy, on his new gym
2. “I just worry that my slutty phase has gone on so long that I literally don’t know how to date. Do you think Anne Hathaway has this same conversation.” – Billy
“You know, I have a theory that she was born without a clitoris” – Julie
“That explains The Intern.” – Billy
3. “Oh, Horse, is that that Netflix show about the single mom who sells heroin —” – Billy
“— To support her trans child’s horseback riding hobby.” – Julie
4. “When did comedies become 30-minute dramas?” – Billy
5. “We came so close to beating those fucking Sokel twins. They’re like the Williams sisters of the Sycamore Country Club except, you know, allowed to join.” – Marilyn, on her tennis club
6. “I don’t have a lawyer. Ever since Star Jones stopped coming to me for her food addiction.” – Marilyn
“Mom, you have to stop telling me who your patients are.” – Julie
“You sound just like Catherine Zeta Jones when I tried to help her with her bipolar II.” – Marilyn
7. “I think it’s sexy that you dress like someone who can still get the measles. Way before Jenny McCarthy was even born.” – Billy
8. “Congratulations, you are now the owner of a Fonda 5000, the exclusive camera used by the Netflix series Grace and Frankie.” – Marilyn, reading the camera manual
9. “I am directing an episode of The Blacklist, which is a dream come true of my agent’s, and so I really need James Spader to cry on the steps of your brownstone.” – Tina Fey
10. “Glee, but with dogs. A Botched spinoff where Dr. Terry Dubrow’s leather jacket becomes sentient and solves crimes. American Horror Story: We Promise We Thought it Through This Time. CSI: Provincetown, and there’s like, a ton of piss play. A workplace comedy about lesbian bed death. And something with Annette Bening.” – Julie’s TV ideas