I wouldn't say it's "good" just that the bar has been set so low by Dena that anything is better.
I do think there's a definitive change in how characters interact but longterm plots... we'll see. The dopplegänger storyline is incredibly wonky from the get-go.
Ehh that wasn't all JFP's doing. When it was originally reported that they were looking for a recast Phyllis it came from Sony.
After GT won the Emmy there were pics of her out to dinner solo with Steve Kent and Sony is the one who "leaked" the info about her audition to the press.
That's why I never believed it was just Phyllis fans or the casting of Phyllis was JUST a JFP thing. Sony was also very integral and everyone mentioned by them too was 40 or younger.
I'm not going to keep going back and forth about this but if Mal and Sally had any real use for 99% of the cast they'd be doing more than they are (with the exception of Amelia, Christel and Daniel). Does that also apply to Eileen? Who has no real story of her own? Or Bryton? Or Melody? Sharon? Like, you do realize that it's damn near August and nobody has anything CLOSE to an Emmy reel except maybe Greg Rikaart (and I guess CK or DG if you think they've been marginally decent - I don't).
I think a better argument is the belief that Sally had other plans for Phyllis but Sony or CBS forced her to keep Philly together (after she swore in an interview that they wouldn't be) and so this is the result. It's quite obvious something happened because Gina was giving interviews about discussions she had (I guess with Sally) about Phyllis being single and re-discovering herself and how she was excited to play that and then randomly it was back to Phyllis and Billy. It was obviously network-mandated or Sony because Sally made her opinion on them quite clear.
But either way, I think it's silly to claim that the writers and EP are invested in anyone really when 99% the actors have no noteworthy material to speak of 8 months into the year (and many of them have verbalized this).
Aside from all of that.....does anyone find it odd that Sally no longer gives interviews? She gave that first interview to Michael Logan, there was some ugly backlash and nobody has heard a word from her since. Mal gives every single interview in every single magazine article. She literally has not said a word (and if you go back and read her interview - NONE of what she said actually happened).
It's like Angelica or Steve Kent or someone read the interview and not only shut her down but told her that all her plans won't fly and she needs to change them (she said no more Jack vs. Victor, she said no more Philly, she said a great love for Ashley, she named her top 8 characters and many of them barely make the top 10 in episode counts now....)