Friday, October 9, 2015

You're the Worst 2x05 "We Can Do Better Than This" (Plastic Success) [Contributor: Anne]


"We Can Do Better Than This"
Original Airdate: October 7, 2015

What is the next step?

The unfortunate thing about life is that you are often prohibited to stand still. You can try to; you can avoid reality or you can make conscious, wrongful decisions that push you against the current. You might even be successful if you surround yourself with people who do the same.

But that success is temporary. It's fake. And it is within this plastic success that most of our characters choose to stay for this episode.

EDGAR

I say "most" because, thank goodness, Edgar is moving forward! Unlike his friends, Edgar has always seemed to want to move forward; he recognizes his shortcomings and works to fix them. The problem with Edgar is that he has the most reason to be thrown back into the past given his post-traumatic stress disorder. That PTSD led him to a heroin addiction –– a way to alleviate the pain from the war, yes, but also a distractor from handling that pain appropriately.

That's why watching Edgar in this episode was a relief. So often I've wondered why Edgar hangs out with the people he hangs out with; he's clearly the best out of them, and yet he receives the worst treatment by all of them (see Gretchen and Jimmy's behavior towards his improv announcement). Seeing him in a new environment –– with friends who think he is funny and a love interest who thinks his story is fascinating –– feels like a reward that was a long time coming.

I get that what Tall Nathan did was meant to be kind of a dig against Edgar, because Edgar made him look bad in front of Dorothy, but I'm so happy that he did. Dorothy is probably not going to last long –– if I know romantic comedies, she is an obstacle between Edgar and Lindsay –– but I actually wish she would. I think that her presence could not only give Edgar the attention that he rightfully deserves but also make Lindsay and Edgar's relationship more interesting than a "will-they-won't-they."

LINDSAY

Lindsay has a chance at moving forward in this episode, discovering that when she stops obsessing about men, she finds an interest in politics. I loved that Lindsay found so much passion when she just stopped worrying about her romantic situation, even if everything she said was silly; it made me realize how little we know about Lindsay outside of how she perceives herself as a romantic partner, and how much of a shame that is.

When she hears about Amy –– who is hand-signing at Beyonce's concert –– she falls back into her pattern. She knows she can't reach out to Paul, so instead she gets drunk and looks for Edgar, who has always been her fallback (but has also, more significantly, been her closest friend through all of this). I don't know the extent that either of them realize their strong connection with the other; I think that the party messed things up, considering that Edgar was used and Lindsay was kissed at the most inopportune time.

But I think that no matter what they realize, the fact that Edgar was not there for Lindsay when she reached out to him will affect her feelings towards him. She may be using him as temporary relief from her difficult situation, but when she figures out that she needs him, it will change the story.

JIMMY

Jimmy is going to write an erotic novel! 

Jimmy's writer's block has been a major part of the second season of this show, and I think justifiably so. I've mentioned in the past how I felt that writing was often used in television and movies as a reflection of the character in question, and I think that with this episode ––  which seemingly has given Jimmy the purpose he's been looking for ––  we can see that.

It may seem silly or wrong that the novel that Jimmy wants to write, the one that he is most talented at writing, is an erotic novel. I think it's perfectly in line with what we know about Jimmy, and I hope it sticks as the work that gets him famous. His first book, Congratulations, You're Dying, was written immediately after Becca broke his heart. That book is a reflection of his feelings for her; it is cynical and flowery. It's real, which is why it is critically well-received. But it is also a reflection of closed-off Jimmy, which is why it is unpopular.

An erotic novel, on the other hand, is classically Jimmy. When Gretchen discovers his "Erotic Tales," written when he was 11 years old, she says: "This is the most Jimmy thing you've ever done." (It really is.) But after teasing him, she discovers that he could find success writing something along those lines.

I also love in Jimmy's subplot that Gretchen also appreciates that Jimmy will potentially write the NCIS:LA novelization. I love that Jimmy chides her for giving the show grief pretty much just because everyone likes it; not only is that a message you don't often hear from characters, especially those like Jimmy. It indicates that Jimmy is gaining respect for things that he would have otherwise made fun of, too (as his stint with improv comedy also shows). And the fact that the NCIS:LA novelization is difficult for him to write. There's a show "bible," there's hundreds of hours of footage, and –– as Killian says ––  the plot Jimmy constructs doesn't really "track." 

So it does seem like Jimmy's moving forward. Right? As Edgar is doing by telling his story to Dorothy, Jimmy is using his past to his advantage by writing a book inspired by what he wrote when he was 11. He's accepting himself in a way he hadn't previously done. He's moving forward.

But what will he do now that he knows Gretchen's leaving? I don't see him confronting her about it, though he may. And if he doesn't–– and she doesn't mention it –– then how much forward action can Jimmy really have?

GRETCHEN

Gretchen is kicking and screaming against moving forward. Gretchen is kicking and screaming against intimacy, against vulnerability, against falling in love.

I think it's interesting that Gretchen is the one who suggests that she and Lindsay find other things to talk about besides men, and yet Gretchen is the one who dismisses every idea of how to do that. She's against politics, against talking about strong women, against talking about women they already know. She's the one who derails Lindsay from politics by showing her the picture of Amy, and she's the one who lets Lindsay fall back into the very patterns that Lindsay was trying to shake.

Look at how many times I wrote the word "against" in those two paragraphs. It has to be exhausting for Gretchen to be playing a lie. Her entire occupation, too, is fabricating a big fat lie, and even that is exhausting her. How exhausting must it be, then, for her to live in such a lie?

This episode is titled "We Can Do Better Than This" because of a quote referring to how Gretchen and Lindsay only talk about men. Obviously, though, the quote and the title are about much more than that, in the same way "All About that Paper" was not just about money.

It's titled "We Can Do Better Than This" because Gretchen, Jimmy, Edgar and Lindsay all know they should be moving forward. In many ways, they're trying, and in some ways, they are succeeding. But unless they fully commit towards growing up –– if Edgar continues improv and Dorothy, if Lindsay moves on from Paul, if Jimmy and Gretchen are honest with each other about what they feel –– then they can do better than what they're doing.

Until then, it's just plastic success.

Stray Observations:
  • I liked this episode more than the episode before it, though I've never truly seen this show have a bad episode. This episode reminded me a lot of "Crevasses": there was good Jimmy and Gretchen interaction, Edgar stood up for himself, Jimmy worked on his book, and there was a lot to unpack.
  • My one critique of this episode is that some of what is going on is a little bit too much to believe, especially Amy signing for BeyoncĂ© and the end of the scene at the frozen yogurt place when Lindsay just drops her food on the floor. Both of those were unnecessary flourishes.
  • "Men are mean and they hurt my brain."
  • "No! Don't you dare look away, you naughty baker boy."
  • One thing that this show always nails? Its music selection. The song at the end is called "Hold the Line" by Jack and Eliza; it fit perfectly with the scene both lyrically and with respect to the mood.
  • Chris Geere, by the way, killed the last moments of the episode. Especially this season (and I suppose as a result of being with Gretchen) Jimmy has been very goofy ("Dogs don't eat na-chos") and to see real concern flicker on his face was really well done.
  • Aya Cash continues to slay, though. Her best delivery was of "sausage wallet" or of "No! ... Yes?" when Jimmy finds her reading his book.
  • Another thing this show always nails is the way they do texts. I don't think any other show does it better (remember when Jimmy has to text all of his old girlfriends in season one and the texts come flooding in?)
  • I loved that Jimmy, and the credits, called Female Executive "Female Executive." It was very meta. (Hi, Mary Grill, previously seen on The Mindy Project and VEEP!)

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