The three Pamela Adlon daughters had a profound influence on the conception and development of Better Things, their mother’s FX show and the first show on the network created and run by and targeted specifically for women. Similarly, Pamela has had a great deal of success on TV and in film: she co-starred as Marcy for all seven seasons of Californication, and won widespread praise for her work on Louie, alongside network and real-life friend Louis CK. But Pamela Adlon’s most notable role might still be the voice of Bobby Hill, which she performed on animated hit King Of The Hill from the show’s debut in 1997 until its cancelation in 2010. In fact, Adlon’s resume as a voice actress is longer than that of her visible roles–which might be one reason why she’s not had a show of her own until now.
Better Things is based on Pamela Adlon’s experiences, and her character, Sam Fox, is something of a version of her–but things are considerably more harried for the fictional Pamela than they are in the 50-year-old Hollywood veteran’s real life. Likewise, Max, Frankie, and Duke, Sam’s three daughters, are all based on Pamela’s daughters: Gideon, 19; Odessa, 17; and Rockie, 14.
There’s no word yet on whether any of the three young women will guest star on Better Things. But they might not need to, considering how strong their influence has been on the show’s development. It’s is essentially a love letter to all three of her children, something Pamela explained in detail to NPR:
I always would get a sense like when my daughters and I are together and we’re walking it’s sometimes feels in my head like we’re Reservoir Dogs, it’s just the four of us, you know? And I see it in slow motion, and they’re completely captivating, my daughters, and they’re all individuals and they’re just incredible, and their story is incredible. It’s so interesting to me to tell the story about three girls at different stages developmentally–not really put into the conversation where’s the dad, because that’s not really the story to me–the story is this family, this is what this family is….They helped me cast the [parts], and they put their votes in, and I would run material by them that was appropriate, and they’re very much a part of it. The show is completely dedicated to them and all that they do, and the show really gives them a voice.
Pamela had all three of her daughters with her ex-husband, the writer and producer Felix Adlon. The pair divorced in 2010. Here’s a family photo, taken at the 2008 release party for Tinker Bell:
And here’s the three Pamela Adlon daughters at home with mom in a couple more current shots:
— Pamela Adlon (@pamelaadlon) February 11, 2016
— Pamela Adlon (@pamelaadlon) March 9, 2016
Delivered. Annie Hathaway—to my daughters who love, love, love her. I did it! I'm the man! She surpassed all expectations of the Prin-CESS of Genovia. This was a beautiful happening watching this movie and being with my girls at a tea party. #alicethroughthelookingglass #annehathaway @greg_longstreet
(In case you were wondering, it looks like the daughters are lined up youngest to oldest from left to right, meaning that the order in the above photo is Rocky, Odessa, and Gideon.)
It’s early to say whether the three Pamela Adlon daughters will follow in their mother’s footsteps, but they all do have some experience in front of the camera. In 2011, Gideon portrayed the title character in the “Niece” episode of Louie; she also had a guest spot in an episode of Girl Meets World earlier this year, and will feature in the 2017 miniseries When We Rise. She also accepted an award with her mom at the 2015 Writer’s Guild LA ceremony:
Odessa and Rocky Adlon, meanwhile, both had parts in mom’s 2011 movie Conception.
Whether or not the three youngest Adlons make on-screen appearances in Better Things, their influence on the show is clear. And it’s clearly something their mother is happy to champion–something she did beautifully at the Better Things premiere. “I wouldn’t be here without my daughters,” Pamela declared. “They keep me going. And I want you guys to stand up, my three real daughters. Their lives came through my vagina. You guys are my inspiration. All the odds and the glory.”
Better Things airs Thursday nights on FX.
(Photo credits: Pamela Adlon daughters via Instagram, FayesVision / Nikki Nelson / WENN.com)