Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Growing Up and Living With It: A Discussion of You’re The Worst's Third Season So Far [Guest Poster: Amir]

You’re the Worst has always been a show about growth, first and foremost. That’s the charm and brilliancy of creator Stephen Falk, who navigates the dysfunctional adventures of a couple too inept to not be together with such honesty and unabashed brazen humor. Every episode from the beginning has been an exercise in seeing how this unromantic couple learns to be a couple. Each episode tackles a new trope within dating, while also having our side characters chime in with hilarious heart. Edgar, our PTSD war veteran, serves not only as house chef and punching bag, but also as the voice of reason that Jimmy desperately needs. Lindsey, our sex-addicted ditzy best friend, provides not only some of the best laughs in the series, but also support to Gretchen in ways that were thought unimaginable. Their involvement within this series is just as important as the growth of Gretchen and Jimmy, and with each new season, we see them pressing forward within not only the main narrative, but also their own. Not many series today manage that juggling act well, and less manage it with such great chemistry that Chris Geere, Aya Cash, Desmin Borges, and Kether Donohue provide.

One episode in its seminal second season has our lovable jerks “checking in” on each other, which they both gaff at initially, but throughout the episode unintentionally end up doing. Another episode has the two of them coming to terms with the fact that they’re “exclusive,” which for any normal relationship would be just that: normal. For Gretchen and Jimmy, this is a major step not only as people, but as a unit. That happens to be one the joys of You’re the Worst — watching our merry band of a-holes (which would be a generous comment more than anything) learn to live with each other and grow as people. If season one was a perfect introduction to the razor sharp humor and concept of watching two terrible people beginning to date each other, season two ups the ante by giving the series a beating heart, with the finale giving even the most cynical viewer a moment of pause; Gretchen and Jimmy really do love each other.

Season three of You’re the Worst looks to be a merging of what made season one work and what made season two so affecting. The first episode reintroduces us to our favorite anti-couple working on their relationship in new and honest ways. After Gretchen slips out of her depressive spell, she makes attempts to get better by seeing a therapist, played by the always welcome Samira Wiley, while Jimmy does his best to actually show that he loves Gretchen as opposed to just drunkenly admitting it. Meanwhile, Edgar has found happiness with his own cutesy love story, and Lindsey is taking strides in making her marriage with Paul work — kind of. With so many stories going on, the juggling begins to get more difficult, and while this season isn’t as cohesive as it’s first season, or nearly as funny its second, what this third season retains more than anything is awareness of emotion.

Each episode this season has been a perfect merging of deranged humor and emotion as the real seeps into these characters' lives. Jimmy calls up his estranged father with the expectation to tear into him and get some form of closure in his life. But he ends up leaving him a voicemail saying he’s sold a book, hoping it’d make him proud. It’s only when he realizes that his father actually passed away, and that his moment of vulnerability for all for naught, does Jimmy sink into a minor sad spell which Gretchen desperately tries to fix. It’s an ironic trade considering last season Jimmy desperately tried to do the same for Gretchen.

Further on in the season, we finally get an episode revolving around Edgar’s PTSD which includes sleepless nights, a trip to the VA that doesn’t go well, paranoia, and how Jimmy’s offhand comments actually have great detrimental effect on Edgar. It’s an episode carried by Borges’ phenomenal performance and one that may be the best half hour of television not only in this series’ career, but also of the year. Lindsey, meanwhile, finds out that she’s actually got the capacity to be a great mother — even outshining her older demeaning sister who’s been prepping to be a mother for what seems to be her whole life. And yet despite that, she still has no real understanding of what being a mother and forming a family really means. Naturally, like all of our characters, they’ll grow to become better not only with themselves, but with each other.

We’re only on episode six of this third season and with the rest of this season, anything can happen. So much can change and so much can go wrong. That’s not just the nature of television — that’s just the nature of life in general. Despite Jimmy and Gretchen’s way of laughing everything off, they are still living breathing human beings who feel things like everyone else. Despite Edgar’s support system with his girlfriend and friends, he’s a hair trigger away from slipping off the edge, and despite Lindsey’s motivation in being a better wife to Paul, she’s still capable of having it all fall apart. That’s what this third season has given us: real stakes. The hard part of getting into a relationship is in the past, the bigger challenge comes from living with one another. Is it possible? Can it be done? This has always been questions not only for our characters, but for us as well.

Stephen Falk knows that uncertainty is the real enemy of life, but there’s always hope that tomorrow everything will be okay. With season four of You're the Worst greenlit, one can only hope that our lovable crew manage to keep it together. From the looks of it though, they seem to be doing all right and that’s about as much as one can hope and ask for.


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