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TV Critic’s Corner

Spend some time with these mean people

Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner in “Difficult People.”Linda Kallerus/Hulu

I have crossed the line from like to love with “Difficult People,” the comedy starring Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner as sarcastic best friends in New York. Wannabe stars, they’re like Jerry and Elaine from “Seinfeld” only ever more self-obsessed and petty and conniving. The Tuesday night show is in the middle of its third season on Hulu.

1. They’re shameless. You don’t know the meaning of jaded until you’ve encountered Julie and Billy, who dislike nice people, mean people, and basically anyone who isn’t one of them. They are thoroughly preoccupied by the minutiae of their own lives. In some ways, they’re nuts like Abbi and Ilana on “Broad City,” but with none of those characters’ sweetness and mutual respect. Billy and Julie are bitter to the core, and it’s hysterical. Like Larry David on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” they are us deep, deep down.

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2. The countless pop references are pitch perfect and extremely specific, even more so than those on “Will & Grace.” Julie and Billy are obsessed with celebrity, but they’re also tough critics. They thrive on being judgmental. “I’m gonna make a list of eight shows I’m never gonna watch,” Billy said last season, “and all eight are ‘The Affair.’ ” And this season, when Julie auditions as a cigarette girl for a Woody Allen TV project, she asks if the show is set in the past. “No,” the auditioner says, “Woody just thinks cigarette girls still exist and black people don’t.”

3. The supporting cast is rich. I do so enjoy Andrea Martin, who is also on NBC’s “Great News” right now. She plays Julie’s narcissistic mother, a therapist who makes every session about herself. Cole Escola, as Matthew, a co-worker at the restaurant where Billy works, brings new meaning to the bitchy queen type. Fred Armisen is a kick, as always, as Billy’s brother. Gabourey Sidibe is the deadpan restaurant owner. James Urbaniak as Julie’s boyfriend is PBS yin to her E! yang.

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4. The guest stars have a good time. Among those who’ve appeared on the show: Stockard Channing, Maury Povich, John Cho, Larry Wilmore, Lucy Liu, Rosie O’Donnell, and, no kidding, Vanessa Williams as Matthew’s ex-wife.

5. The writing is timely, and not just when it comes to entertainment. Billy and Julie’s misery extends to the Trump administration this season, including a gag about a Mike Pence-created gay-conversion program called Sixpence None the Gayer, where people who turn a gay person straight get $6,000. The show veers smoothly in and out of satire.


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.