Friday, September 18, 2015

You're the Worst 2x02 "Crevasses" (And Crevices) [Contributor: Anne]

Original Airdate: September 16, 2015

I didn’t notice until after my second viewing of “Crevasses,” but how clever is it that the characters switch between two very similar-sounding words that have completely opposite meanings? A “crevice” is a narrow opening of fissure; a “crevasse” is a deep, open crack. And there it is that we find our characters, navigating the every day in major ways.

This is what You’re the Worst has always done; the entire first season is the evolution of Gretchen and Jimmy’s love story as they become accustomed to the permanent presences of one other, which culminates in an accidental move-in that aligns with their feelings more closely than either realize. Unlike the first episode of season two, which finds Jimmy and Gretchen on a similar plane, “Crevasses” analyzes their individual reactions to co-habitation and what that means in their fight against adulthood, permanency, and emotional commitment.

I am most excited to talk about Jimmy. At the beginning of the episode, Jimmy’s agent (The Office’s David Wallace, looking quite handsome here if I may say so myself) tells Jimmy that he needs to get his writing butt into gear. Jimmy insists that he’s not fighting against his fears — that the next great idea is “just around the corner.” So he goes to the mall to try to prove this but accomplishes absolutely nothing, apart from some intriguing ideas about Nazi war criminals.

I adore that Jimmy’s first book was critically praised but not widely sold; like Jimmy, his work is high-class but not necessarily palatable to everyone. And as Jimmy struggles with writing a second time, it’s hard not to see the parallels that exist in him trying to be with Gretchen without accepting his love for her. Writing is a skill that requires a vulnerability with one’s audience; obviously, so is loving. Even as Gretchen accepts him — even as she wants to live with him, not around him — Jimmy's difficulty in accepting that and his reluctance to be totally vulnerable with her, hinders his ability to love her. Hence his control freak, “Gretchen’s corner” nonsense.

With all of that in mind, what does this episode teach us about Jimmy? He doesn’t get any writing done; when he is alone at the mall, he reeks of desperation, looking to anyone he can to get inspiration. Remember the episode after he and Gretchen broke up, when he couldn’t write anything? This episode indicates that if he fails to let her in, he will experience similar troubles.

The best part of the mall scenes were, of course, when Jimmy and Gretchen were together. There is something about their combined energy that is magical and fun. Contrasted with those scenes alone, Jimmy is a totally different person with Gretchen — not nicer, really, but better, like it is that relationship that allows him to enjoy himself instead of being miserable all the time. There are scenes included for no other reason than to put forward the idea that Gretchen and Jimmy are compatible, whether it’s Gretchen’s trolling of Jimmy during Trivial Pursuit or their efforts to make a Bloody Mary by themselves.

Maybe it’s for that reason that Jimmy’s gesture to Gretchen at the end of the episode is so meaningful. All during the episode when he is alone you have him talking in goofy hypotheticals, and then when he is with Gretchen, he has to confront the real. Gretchen tells him as much when she accuses him of only reacting to her presence in the theoretical, while she is left with nothing. Basically, she’s all-in and he is only tolerating her presence.

I can’t help but be reminded of “Crimes and Misdemeanors and Ex-Boyfriends,” an episode of The Mindy Project that has a similar conflict (male protagonist resists female protagonist’s moving in and resolves the issue with a piece of furniture). Both episodes imply that growing used to someone else’s presence in your life is a process, often made difficult by past fears and hesitations.

Where “Crevasses” is different from “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” however, is in its final scenes. The Mindy Project ties the issue up in a nice bow; the third season made its point about Mindy and Danny through many small conflicts that began and ended in 22 minutes.*  Because You’re the Worst has fewer episodes per season, and because Stephen Falk follows a three-act structure in each season, the ending of “Crevasses” is not as cut-and-dry.

Gretchen brings up, seemingly out of nowhere, what I am sure will be the main theme of this season: Paul’s statement that “love is putting someone else’s needs before your own.” She says this after Jimmy opens his dresser to her and even goes out of his way to buy her a Klüf that is adorably jacked up. As she asks Jimmy for help moving more of her stuff in, he takes a glance back to the nightstand with anxiety. Love is putting someone else’s needs before your own, and in that gesture, Jimmy proved as much. But if you see that Jimmy took the crummy jobs his agent suggested, rather than writing the work of art that he is destined for, there is reason to be concerned for Jimmy and Gretchen going forward. He loves her, clearly, and his inspiration is approaching, but he isn’t going down without a fight.

Just because most of the characterization centered around Jimmy doesn’t mean there’s nothing to say about Gretchen. While Gretchen is more grounded than Jimmy and seems to know more of what she wants, her fears are just as prevalent and valid. The most notable moments of Gretchen’s come when a) she looks at the wedding dresses and Jimmy whisks her away and b) when, in her game with Jimmy at the mall, she says that she “loves her [fake] boyfriend.” These actions are in the same language as long-term commitment, and unlike Jimmy, this doesn’t seem to be what fazes her.

But she still isn’t able to buy anything at Towels ‘n’ Things, and that’s after we see the difficulty it took her to enter the store in the first place. Gretchen may seem more balanced than Jimmy when it comes to their relationship, but the tangible details of it are scary to her: the storage space, for example. The college freshman list is a distraction — a set plan on “how to succeed as an adult in a long term relationship” — but by the end of the episode Gretchen, despite demonstrating signals of desiring long-term commitment and reciprocated love, kind of puts all the responsibility on Jimmy (note that Jimmy is the only one who actually makes any forward action this episode). This points at some tension within Gretchen that will likely lead to trouble between her and Jimmy later on. (As a rom-com writer, I would say that Gretchen is afraid that what she and Jimmy have “isn’t real” — that Jimmy doesn’t want her there — while Jimmy is more afraid that in the long run he and Gretchen will meet a devastating end. These sound similar and manifest themselves in similar ways, but they are not identical!).

Meanwhile, Lindsay and Edgar continue to be a thing, and I think thematically they are doing exactly what they are meant to do. Jimmy and Gretchen are two similar forces whose small differences provide tension; Lindsay and Edgar are on two sides of a see-saw, looking to even each other out.

Well, at least in the case of Lindsay. Lindsay was kind of in poor form this episode, down to the wing sauce on her face, and I agree with the gay guys at the bar that Lindsay’s treatment of Edgar is gross. I actually hope that she doesn’t realize the extent of her manipulation (she does write it off as “he’s helping me because I’m hurting,” which is actually not 100% true) and Edgar is just the person who has been there for her when she needs someone.

I do appreciate that Edgar’s infatuation with Lindsay began when she sang Kate Bush, though — that means that Edgar’s fixation with her begins at her first moment of true vulnerability, where it was revealed that there was something behind her besides being a serial cheater and just generally the worst. I also think considering his speech to her in the first episode — that only brave men have a chance with her — he will find the vulnerability in her before long.

The only problem this poses is what Lindsay serves to give to Edgar, who has to be the moral compass of the show. Never mind how he treats Lindsay — his roommates expect him to be on, all the time, getting them whatever he wants. I don’t know if the solution will eventually mean that Edgar has to change in any significant way to demand those things, or if everyone else around him has to change (at least a little) to accommodate for their friend.

I’ve been writing a lot about the thematic implications of this episode, but let me be clear on my opinion of it: I loved it. It was a perfect continuation of what had been presented in the first episode of the season, but with somewhat higher emotional stakes. You’re the Worst has always been incredible at maintaining the funny while amping the consequences. Last year, this led to a great break-up episode with Jimmy and Gretchen. Now, I am excited to say that even though I do not know where these little things are leading, there is no doubt we are careening into the crevasse. I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Stray Observations:
  • Something I always love about television is when characters laugh at each others' jokes. I think this is something that is often forgotten about in sitcoms, but here it happened (notably) twice: when Edgar says “Mall-den” and when Gretchen and Jimmy are playing “That’s your boyfriend.”
  • I’ll never love Lindsay and Edgar as much as I love Jimmy and Gretchen by a very wide margin. However, I do think there’s something in the water; Lindsay did ask about the girl from the bar…
  • Chris Geere’s delivery continues to be spot-on, and his excitement at the flying airplane is one of the best moments of the entire episode.
  • I loved the music selection in this episode (the scene with Gretchen and Jimmy at the mall, and the scene at the end of the episode). Really beautiful.
  • I’m excited to see some heat on Jimmy from a professional standpoint; I wonder what is next for Gretchen?
  • ALSO: I loved the callback to Megan Thomas and the very real ramifications that must have had on Jimmy’s career.
* Baby not included.


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