1. This is Josh Thomas, the 27-year-old star of the Australian comedy series Please Like Me.
The series, which debuted its second season earlier this month on Pivot in the U.S. and ABC in Australia, centers on Thomas’ character, also named Josh. The first season began with Josh’s understated coming out and his mother’s suicide attempt; the second season begins with twentysomething Josh’s surprising new baby half-sister and his mother’s manic episode.
When the actual plot is explained, it’s clear that everything happening is fairly dramatic, but when you’re watching the show, somehow the Big Things that are so often Dramatic are treated with a comedic touch that manages to be light without making light of anything. They’re going for realism, Thomas told BuzzFeed, but it’s also narrative, and “stuff has to happen.” When you reflect on the show, he said, you realize, though, “Wow, he’s had a really rough fortnight.”
2. The episodes of Please Like Me nearly always include Josh cooking something, and so on a hot Monday in Los Angeles, he came to my apartment with no air conditioning to make chicken parma.
Just after 2:30 p.m. on a sweltering afternoon, the Australian comedian-writer-actor showed up in Little Armenia with a cool patterned bag and a publicist.
3. I apologized for the lack of air conditioning and showed him the ingredients.
The chicken breasts, as you can see in the photograph, were enormous, grotesquely enormous. Clearly, the bird that bore those breasts had not lived a very happy life.
“This poor chicken. The things we put it through,” Thomas said ruefully, and then launched into a story about his own possibly dead chickens — Melinda, Genevieve, and Adele — hens he and his boyfriend, also named Josh, had to give up. Putting out food for your chickens, Thomas said, is just like putting out food for rats, and “you don’t want rats in your house.” He and his boyfriend put up an ad on what he described as the Craigslist of Australia that said: “Free to a good home.” One day, while Thomas was out, but his boyfriend was home, a man who seemed to want to eat Melinda, Genevieve, and Adele picked them up.
“Somebody’s colon? That’s not a good home. That’s a bad home,” Thomas said.
4. We wrapped two grotesque chicken breasts in cling wrap and pounded them with a rolling pin.
“You’re very firm,” he said to me a few times.
5. “I don’t know about this side; I don’t think it’s supposed to look like that,” said Thomas.
Admittedly, it looked awful, but when does a chicken breast look nice?
6. In the U.S., egg yolks are “the wrong color”!
Egg yolks in the U.S. are what Thomas described as “neon yellow” and “wrong” because in the U.S. the chickens eat so much corn! He also said that brown and white eggs are the same on the inside: Why do Americans separate them in packaging? I was learning so many things, and he hadn’t even taught me how to bread chicken yet.
7. He said he was excited that this was my first time breading chicken and insisted that I use one hand to touch the breast.
Coat it in flour, dip it in egg scramble, press into a pile of bread crumbs.
8. Bread crumbs got all over the floor, but in a fun way, like walking through bubble wrap.
9. While we were breading the chicken breasts, no one had turned on the oven. “I stuffed up,” Thomas said.
10. Also, I couldn’t find my cheese grater and so he was forced to slice up the parmesan.
11. Once the breasts were breaded, we fried them up.
For one horrifying moment, it seemed like I didn’t have any pans that were both stove and oven-safe that would fit a piece of chicken of such girth, but then I found two and Thomas wedged them in and it was fine. He was sweating slightly because of the poor ventilation and the oven.
12. Thomas put sauce and ham and cheese on the chicken and then slid them into the oven.
Thomas had to check on the chicken every few minutes because, even though there were four people in the room including the publicist and the photographer, no one had noted the time of oven entry. While the chicken was baking, Thomas talked about his personal trainer, who is very harsh but lovable because of his beauty.
13. The chicken was done and it was perfect.
Apparently chicken parma is “a big deal” in Melbourne, where Thomas lives, and every pub has “parma night,” so making this chicken dish is practically a cultural rite of passage.
“This has been really successful, what we just did here,” he said, looking lovingly at the perfectly browned mozzarella and parmesan.
14. Look how happy he is.
15. I mean, really.
16. We both cut the enormous, one-pound chicken breasts in half.
17. Thomas insisted we take a photograph of the inside of the chicken, “so people can see how wet it is.”
It was perfectly cooked. Very moist. Exactly what you want chicken to be.
18. He ate half of his chicken breast and then kept eating the second half and told his publicist they had to leave because he would finish it if he stayed.
Before he left, I asked if he had anything to add, and Thomas said he did not “as long as you tell people how wet the chicken was.” It was very wet, people.
19. Please Like Me airs Fridays at 10:30 p.m. on Pivot. The title may make it sound desperate but it is likable.
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