Friday, September 11, 2015

You're The Worst 2x01 "The Sweater People" (Re-Expressed Echoes) [Contributor: Anne]

"The Sweater People"
Original Airdate: September 9, 2015

You’re the Worst is hilarious. You’re the Worst is mean. You’re the Worst is daring. All of these are truths we already knew, and all of these are equally true in the second season premiere of the show, “The Sweater People,” which is not just an excellent premiere but one of the best episodes of the series thus far, a consistent and promising beginning to what is certain to be a killer sophomore year.

I have always admired You’re the Worst because of the tight storytelling that shines alongside the rapid-fire jokes. This is a show where every detail is thought out in advance, every episode tells a singular story that feeds into a seasonal arc, and every character is treated as an individual who would exist in real life — where flaws are often ugly, mistakes often unjustifiable, and redemption something that takes a lot longer than the 22 minutes can provide. This is a show that aims not just to be funny or romantic but to tell a story, and in doing so it honors all elements of its storytelling.

For example: in this episode’s A-plot, Jimmy and Gretchen are grappling with how disgustingly normal it is for them to be co-habitating. In retaliation, they take to heavy drinking, heavy drugs, and “butt stuff,” when all either one of them wants to do is relax. This is a story that checks off many boxes of a great sitcom episode: the conflict is character-based; the conflict provides a lot of sources of humor; the conflict is informed by the B and C-plots around it.

But You’re the Worst doesn’t just want to do that — it wants to do more. The conflict is character-based, a feat that is more impressive when considering that these actions from these characters are informed by a season before it. So many sitcoms forget details about their characters or experiences their characters have gone through, because so many situations in sitcoms are funny, forgettable fun. This is not the case with Jimmy and Gretchen, whose central conflict from the first season remains the same (put cutely, the fear of falling in love and all that comes with it) but changes with the environment. These conflicts are re-expressed echoes of conflicts that have already happened. This isn’t a criticism of laziness or a lack of storytelling potential; rather, it is the exact opposite. Because by stating again and again the fears of these two individuals, the show is demanding that more layers are unearthed, more vulnerabilities exposed, leading to (I hope) a raw and earned moment where both characters begin to fix the damage done to them in the past.

Another exemplary touch of You’re the Worst is the humor, often stemming from the same place of deep characterization that the conflicts do. What I mean to say is that the funniest parts of this episode are the funniest parts because we can say: “of course that is just how this character would react.” This is counter to something that is often found in sitcoms where jokes that are delivered could have been said by anyone else in the room, thereby losing both the individual touch and subsequent humor. But what makes more sense to Jimmy and Gretchen then that they’d hijack a Google Maps car while high out of their minds? What makes more sense to Sam then that, after being stranded at a meeting set up by Gretchen, he’d give her a phone meant for “hookers and drug addicts and irresponsible garbage people”? Or that Edgar cries out in his sleep, “I didn’t know it was a school”? This is You’re the Worst at its most economical: making us laugh while informing us about the characters.

And of course the A conflict is informed by the B and C conflicts, which is as it should be — these plots should stress the main message of the episode or influence it in some way, because that is economical and also good television storytelling. What You’re the Worst has done that separates it from similar shows, however, is that the B and C-plots still have weight even when their primary purpose is to inform Gretchen and Jimmy’s decisions.

Lindsay’s suffering post-divorce and Edgar’s pure love for Lindsay are either active forces in the narrative (Lindsay slapping Gretchen in the face; Edgar talking about family plans, which grosses Jimmy and Gretchen out) or indirect commentary on the main material (Paul telling Lindsay that “love is putting someone’s needs before your own”; Edgar telling Lindsay that the people you fall in love with and who fall in love with you are the ones that bother to explore the “unfriendly, treacherous mountain” you are; something about Bagel Bites, I’m not totally sure). Both are true, but they also have the ability to exist separately from the main material. Lindsay is a powerhouse and clearly the most flawed character on the show, and You’re the Worst does a great job reminding us that in her life, she is not the side or supporting character.

(I am still undecided on Edgar, if only because his number one purpose is to be the nicest person ever in a room full of jerks. At least his background as a veteran and his dedication to his job at the gym are signs that his character could become more complex in the future).

As someone who loves storytelling and story structure, You’re the Worst is unparalleled, especially as a romantic sitcom (as opposed to a drama about a meth lord). Meanwhile, as someone who loves jokes delivered by mean people, You’re the Worst is equally extravagant. I can’t wait for what this season has for us!

Stray Notes:
  • I loved how Gretchen, Lindsay, Edgar and Jimmy looked in this episode. They were either exceptionally gorgeous or exceptionally handsome.
  • Oh, and Paul. I love Paul and I love the actor that plays him. I also love the other theme in this show is that these people are toxic and make well-intentioned people worse.
  • Another thing about this show: I love is that this was clearly a first act (showrunner Stephen Falk has talked about how he breaks seasons up into pieces). I love that the conflicts weren’t resolved and that the show had the confidence to not tie up loose ends as many other shows would have done.
  • God, Sam is my favorite. The part where he gives Gretchen the phone made me laugh so hard.
  • Everyone on this show has the most hilarious delivery and facial expressions, the winners being Lindsay (her entire spiel to Gretchen about how she is a born-yesterday diaper baby) and Edgar (“It was a school”).
  • One thing I didn’t love about the episode was the group of people at the bar who gave Jimmy and Gretchen their insane drug. They felt kind of shoehorned in and clunky, despite having good dialogue. (I honestly thought they had sold Jimmy and Gretchen a placebo, though I think what happened was much better)
  •  I loved the “Family Plan” guy more than most things on this earth, and I would have done the exact same thing in that circumstance.
  • The ending with the hijacked car! The song playing as they did it! Oh, I do love this show so much.
  • Where is Kieran!?!
What did you think of the premiere? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting us!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your review! Fist of all i want to say that i don´t speak or write english very well ( the truth is that i´m very bad) but when i´ve seen your review from you´re the worst i felt i had to write something.
    Fist of all i´m agree with all your review, and the thing that i most love from the premiere it was to see Jimmy and Gretchen as a tea. Unsual team, but a team. I don´t know if they see it, but right now the couple is working. Even if the things that they are doing are insane, they doing like a couple, and it was hilarious to see it.
    I love how You´re the worst is showing us an unromantic love story, but at the same time a very honest and funny one.
    I love how the screenwrites have developed the show, and i hope this season is going to be better than the previous one.
    Thanks for your review, and i hope to read you the next week for the second episode.
    Sorry for my english!