Pamela Adlon’s Genius: From Voice Acting to Mom Representation

Babes, a heartwarming comedy about two best friends navigating motherhood together, just hit theaters. To celebrate Babes’ arrival, we are taking a look back at the wonderful career of its director, Pamela Adlon. 

Pamela Adlon’s acting credits

What Pamela became known for, however, were her roles as  a voice actor. For those that know Pamela, it’s no surprise that her iconically raspy and dynamic voice is what launched her career. She is best known for voicing Bobby Hill, a quirky elementary school boy, in the series King of the Hill. She won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for this role. Those who grew up in the 2000s will be thrilled to hear that Pamela is also the voice of Pajama Sam from children’s video game series.

Pamela is also known for her work on Louis, a fictionalized series about the life of comedian Louis C.K. Pamela played a recurring role as his friend and served as a producer and writer on the show. During her time working on Louis, Pamela earned a total of four Emmy Award nominations.  

All about her show Better Things

Pamela then created her own series, Better Things, a comedy in which she stars as an actor and mother to three kids. Louis C.K. served as a writer and director for the first two seasons. When it came out that Louis C.K. had been accused of sexual assault, Pamela took Better Things into her own hands and fired her manager who had been found to be involved in the scandal. This show of incredible self assurance and strong will allowed Pamela to carve out her own name as a writer and director, finding her own wonderful corner of the film and television industry.   

With Better Things, Pamela clearly draws from her own life Perhaps that is what makes the characters and their situations feel so real. Sam (played by Pamela) is hilarious, but also a true comfort character. Her love for her daughters and her overall kindness acts as the pulse of the show. Her three daughters are also full of wit, intelligence, and verve. In fact, Better Things offers some of the most complex, but most true to life, female characters out there. There is so much love on the show: love between friends and family, and love of life. It’s clear that Better Things comes straight from Pamela’s heart. 

Pamela’s feature film directing debut, Babes

Pamela’s feature film debut is Babes, a comedy starring Ilana Glazer and Michelle Buteau. When Eden (Ilana Glazer) finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she leans on her life-long best friend Dawn (Michelle Buteau). Dawn, who just had her second baby, to guide her through the process of pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond. 

Michelle Buteau, Pamela Adlon, Ilana Glazer attend the New York premiere of BABES (2024) at Angelika Village East in New York.

In Babes, both Eden and Dawn are deeply entertaining; quirky and likable each in their own way. Though Eden is going to be a single mother after becoming pregnant from a one-night stand, Dawn is married. Her husband, played incredibly by Hassan Minhaj, helps their deep friendship form a sort of unconventional family unit. Their kids are lucky enough to be raised together. The found family trope acts as a heartwarming anchor over which all of the action unfolds.

Why Pamela excels at what she does

We often see storytellers attempting to represent motherhood, but Pamela Adlon has to be one of the absolute best at it. While some make their mother characters unattainably perfect, and others may lean too far into a demonizing sort of imperfection, Pamela gets it just right. She doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties of motherhood, be it physical or emotional, and doesn’t shy away from showing imperfection. At the same time, she represents motherhood with so much love. She showcases the incredible personalities, the sharp intellects, and most of all the heroically big hearts that so many of us know our mothers to have. Not only that, but she is solidly among that crowd of mothers herself. 

Pamela is not only a wonderful storyteller; she is a wonderful person. Whether it is her voice in a cartoon or her directing in a feature film, her talent shines through in all that she does. Watch Babes in theaters while you still can, and support a mother and a woman who absolutely deserves it. 

© Julia Lasker (6/26/24) FF2 Media

Odessa A'zion, Pamela Adlon, Gideon Adlon at arrivals for BETTER THINGS Fifth Season Premiere at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

LEARN MORE/DO MORE

Watch Babes here.

Watch Better Things here.

Want to learn about the stars of Babes, Ilana Glazer and Michelle Buteau? Check out FF2 Media’s latest post.

CREDITS & PERMISSIONS

Featured photo: Pamela Adlon attends the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Microsoft Theater in Hollywood, CA on September 17, 2017. Image Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Live News. Image ID: K89PJX

Middle photo: Michelle Buteau, Pamela Adlon, Ilana Glazer attend the New York premiere of BABES (2024) at Angelika Village East in New York, NY on May 14, 2024. Image Credit: Stephen Smith / SIPA USA / Alamy Live News. Image ID: 2X6FKEW

Bottom photo: Odessa A’zion, Pamela Adlon, Gideon Adlon at arrivals for BETTER THINGS Fifth Season Premiere at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, CA on February 23, 2022. Image Credit: Priscilla Grant / Everett Collection / Alamy Live News. Image ID: 2HPXXY5

Tags: Babes, Better Things, Ilana Glazer, King of the Hill, Louis, Michelle Bureau, Pajama Sam, Pamela Adlon

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As an associate for FF2 Media, Julia writes reviews and features for films made by women. She is currently a senior at Barnard College studying Psychology. Outside of FF2, her interests include acting, creative writing, thrift shopping, crafting, and making and eating baked goods. Julia has been at FF2 for almost 4 years, and loves the company and its mission dearly.
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