Let’s just lay it all out there on the line: if you missed the first (but hopefully not the last, cough FX cough!) season of the freshman comedy, You’re The Worst, we’re not sure what to do with you. Who and why are you? Do you hate funny things and also absurdity and too-real-but-just-the-right-amount-of-TV-hilarity? Maybe it’s you, and not the show, that is actually the worst, friends and random Internet strangers. Because it was kinda, sorta, totally the best.
This summer was chock-a-block with great shows, but as far as comedies go, You’re The Worst was at the head of the class. Somehow frank and refreshing in spite of its at-times lavish scenarios, the show bound its reality to relate-ability with its cadence and response to the absurd and outlandishly petulant behavior of its main characters. It’s a full-bodied series, as corny as that sounds, because the characters are complicated. Gretchen and Jimmy (played by Aya Cash and Chris Geere, respectively) are two very selfish humans determined to self-preserve at all costs, having no doubt be burned many a time before.
Because our society, as we’ve grown “older” in the larger sense, has regressed tremendously. Now in relationships, young folks are inherently more frightened by the potential disaster that is falling for someone — and they’ve built up the armor and laissez-faire attitude that ensures everyone’s kept on their toes (and not necessarily in a good way). They anxiety of commitment, of having feelings, is real — and for two spoiled, fairly well-to-do urbanites who can’t get their shit together, it has very funny consequences, laced with that same anxiety, second-hand embarrassment, and general ne’erdowell-ness that makes good television great.
And it’s not just the main couple, either. The supporting players — Edgar and Lindsay (played by Desmin Borges and Kether Donohue, respectively) are equally as messed up in their own regards. But none the less relatable. Edgar is an Iraq war vet with the mental scars to prove it, and Lindsay? Well the brilliant Kether Donohue plays the frazzled, first!-obsessed younger sister of another character, Becca, with a swooping accuracy with which most women of a certain age are all-too-familiar. We all know a Becca — obsessed with getting it “right” and having a very peculiar and particular obsession with attention. Reformed party girl with a serious case of the FOMOs. The combined chemistry of all of these parts showcases a lot of feelings most young folk — city-dwellers or otherwise — can relate to when it comes to modern dating and living. It’ is hard, y’all. But that’s what makes it so fun: we laugh in the face of our collective misery, played out by the mishaps of a Sunday Funday or self-destructive patterns of behavior.
Even if you can’t relate to the hijinks at play the sentiment, anxiety, and emotional reasoning is far from absurd or unrelatable. Relationships are terrifying things: accepted insanity wherein the two parties involved must jump headfirst (and blindly, we might add!) into a companionship guaranteed to bring heartbreak, destruction, disappointment, and a flurry of other, new, weird emotions that rattle the brain and break the spirit. Gretchen and Jimmy just happen to be bluntly extreme cases of “well everything is going to go to shit eventually so hey, why not?” Which makes them lovable in spite of their at-times awful behavior. Because they’re scared, too. Despite all the bravado of either one, they’re ultimately just as terrified at the prospect of trying and feeling as anyone else in the world.
It’s just damn good storytelling. Creator Stephen Falk — my new hero, apparently — got his start as a television recapper over at the now-defunct Television Without Pity. From there he ended up with the mentor of all TV mentors, Weeds and Orange is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan, whose influence on his own writing is very evident in the show’s storyline structure. There’s nary a cloying “will they won’t they” to be found in the series, to its benefit. Things happen — sometimes shit gets bleak — but the stories always progress forward, and Falk never relies on the inherent tension of holding off on the “big moments” for too long that so many shows do.
If it’s inevitable, it goes in the show as soon as possible, even if it seems scary and weird and too-soon to do so to the trained-by-TV’s-past watcher’s eye. Because Falk and the series understand that there is comedy everywhere, and things don’t stop being funny after the main couple has sex, or starts seriously dating, or moves in together. There’s relatable hahas in all of those situations and beyond — because the show operates under the assumption that all aspects of life and dating and copulating in 2014 are hilariously convoluted and ridiculous.
So what are you doing with your life that’s so important that you can’t add 10 episodes of funny, fun, good-time television absurdity to your binge-watch repertoire? Get thee to an on demand provider tout de suite. We’d hate to consider you The Worst of The Worst for not heeding our call.