Review: 'You're the Worst' wraps up a dark, funny, ambitious, romantic season
"You're the Worst" just wrapped up a really strong second season. I interviewed creator Stephen Falk here, and I have a review of the finale coming up just as soon as I regret going to see "The Babadook"...
"I love you, too." -Gretchen
My favorite aspect of "You're the Worst" season 1 was the way the show moved through the beats of a traditional romantic comedy while being about two people who wouldn't be caught dead watching one, let alone being part of one. It took all these tired cliches and made them fresh again because they were being filtered through Gretchen and Jimmy's sensibilities and their profound discomfort with having any of these experiences or feelings. Season 2 offered us the relationship's first major crisis with the re-emergence of Gretchen's depression. Tonally, it shifted things a lot at times — Falk and I talked a lot about this and some of the objections from people who preferred a less serious version of the show — but the end result was that final scene out on Jimmy's steps, which was as romantic as any moment I've seen on TV this year. The smile that washes over Jimmy's face as he processes 1)the fact that, while drunk, he said the three magic words to Gretchen, and 2)the fact that, while sober, she reciprocates, was a wonder, paying off not only the depression arc itself, and Jimmy's commitment to sticking with Gretchen despite her continued invitations for him to bail, but the larger truths of their relationship. Perfectly set up over the course of the season, and wonderfully played by Chris Geere at the end.
Even before that moment, "The Heart Is a Dumb Dumb" was a fine summation of season 2, offering necessary clarity to certain stories, avoiding traps in others, and just being a funny and weird showcase for most of the larger cast (other than Sam and his crew, who certainly didn't lack for exposure this year).
The opening scene, for instance, finally addressed a question many of you have had about the depression arc: why hasn't Jimmy, or anyone else, suggested Gretchen get professional help? It turns out in the end that Jimmy assumed all along that she was on anti-depressants and that they had stopped working, as those meds are known to do. Gretchen's admission that she's never taken them because she doesn't want to lose her edge placed one more plausible obstacle between them for the end of the season, and turned her acknowledgment that she should go see someone — because now it's not only her own life that's affected by her depressive episodes — into a statement as powerful as Jimmy's smile.
Meanwhile, my fear that the show would wimp out on Edgar and Dorothy and break them up simply because it's easier proved largely unfounded — though Falk admitted to me that that was originally the plan, before he realized it would be stupid for exactly the reasons I articulated last week. Edgar has his problems, and things could still fall apart between them, but having things end because he stupidly listened to Jimmy again would have ruined Edgar as a character. His basic decency and warmth is what keeps him from just being a sad and pathetic figure, and makes him a good contrast to Jimmy; if he tosses aside a great relationship for stupid reasons, it'd be as worse than just writing him out altogether.
Setting the bulk of the finale at another of Vernon and Becca's parties gave it some symmetry with last year's finale, down to Lindsay once again singing dramatically and impressing a man with feelings for her — the difference being that it was Paul, and that she, at least in that moment, was reciprocating. I was glad that Paul (accompanied by computer graphics that only he could see) said the microwaved turkey baster stunt was scientifically impossible, and blamed the whole thing on his heavy seminal load, and he's enough of a marginal character (relevant only to the degree he is or isn't involved with Lindsay) that the show could get away with him stupidly dumping Amy in a way it couldn't have with Edgar and Dorothy. It's a terrible move for Lindsay, too, who wasn't going to keep the baby and is now back with a guy she doesn't particularly like, and placed in the sidecar of his motorcycle, which is a callback to a conversation she and Edgar had last season about whether they exist only as Gretchen and Jimmy's sidekicks. "If I’m on a motorcycle," she argued, "I’m driving the motorcycle, not riding in that shitty side motorcycle thingie for poor people and dogs." So much for that.
And though I've felt at times this season that the show was giving Vernon too much run — he's funny, but he should never take needed story time away from any of the regulars — his rant the party guests, over the protests of a dismayed Becca Barbara, was hilarious, and I like the idea of Becca Barbara being the humbled sister next season, at least for a little while.
This was a great season of TV. Falk took a big gamble with the depression arc, and he hit big on it. (Whatever flaws I found this year had nothing to do with that and everything to do with servicing the cast, which even he admitted in our interview was a problem.) Can't wait to see what he tries next year.
Some other thoughts:
* I'm glad Nina got a curtain call rather than vanishing after yelling at Jimmy, just so we could get a reminder of what a completely normal person seems like when they interact with one of these lunatics. (Though Dorothy continues to offer that perspective, Jimmy and Gretchen largely ignore her existence.)
* Between this show and "Master of None," I'm learning way more about the potency of pre-ejaculate than I think I ever wanted to know.
* What is everyone's favorite drunk Jimmy level?
* The song at the end is "Fool For Your Face" by Coves.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org