***Spoilers: Spoilers for You’re the Worst through Season 3, Episode 5, follow. Spoilers***
I may have been a little late to the You’re the Worst party, but, once started, I was as drunk on its charms as Gretchen and Jimmy on any given day:
“Spooky Sunday Funday” is hands-down one of the best television episodes I’ve ever seen.
Aya Cash, Chris Geere, Desmin Borges, and Kether Donohue are a pitch-perfect group of nuFriends, and their biting humor is just my cuppa. Blasting through the first two seasons all at once is the greatest gift you could give your bestie, so if you know anyone who hasn’t watched, wrap up your Roku stick, Apple device, or whatever it is the kids are watching on these days, and hand it over with a smile. There is no measuring the value of laughter these days … or that of realistic depictions of relationships, sex, and mental health issues. Speaking of, addressing things like depression and PTSD aren’t necessarily what you might have expected a comedy like You’re the Worst to address, but that’s exactly why writer, creator, and showrunner Stephen Falk has gotten so much love from viewers and critics alike.
There were hints sprinkled all along the uproarious, side-splittingly funny first and second seasons, but, by the time we hit “All About That Paper”, it was increasingly impossible (for us, if not her) to ignore Gretchen’s issues. With a clear understanding, despite never having suffered depression himself, Falk walked us through Cutler’s increasing, inexplicable despair and seeming apathy, much to Jimmy’s consternation. His everyman, often frustrated responses spoke for a world of folks who’ve no idea how to cope with what they haven’t experienced: why can’t she just snap out of it, or be cheered by his efforts? Without reducing the impact of Falk’s well-written, emotional back half of Season 2, the show addresses the impotence of attempts at self-medication, and friends trying to fix what they can’t. Jimmy begins to understand just being with her might be the best he can do, and Gretchen makes the decision to seek professional help for both herself and their relationship.
Soon after, and with barely a moment to peek out from her darkness, Gretchen is faced with a bit of a turnabout-is-fair-play/this-ain’t-a-one-way-street moment. Tasked by her new therapist, Justina — gloriously played by Samira Wiley — with facing a chore, Gretchen must inform and help Jimmy deal with his emotions about his father’s death. Trying to expose Nigel Crane’s (equally and eloquently verbose) dark twin’s feelings is, for Gretchen, a near-Herculean task; though the guy was an asshole to Jimmy, Ronny was still his dad. Dealing with conflicting emotions about horrible or estranged parents so quickly after Gretchen’s depression allowed for a coin flip and examination of both sides of the couple in a unique way, and Jimmy and Gretchen each found their way of “helping” wasn’t what was important. Again, their individual mountains had to be climbed, their own two feet plodding forward at an internal pace, perhaps unknowingly soothed by the other’s presence.
Last night, Iraq war veteran and supremely cuddly (we presume) Edgar’s (Desmin Borges) struggles with PTSD finally came to a head. In what could have been a perfect bottle episode, “Twenty-Two” viewed some of the previous week’s “Men Get Strong” happenings through Edgar’s eyes. Borges’ excellent performance aside, it was difficult to spin through his dizzying experience without feeling our own sort of battle fatigue: having spent the better part of what amounts to a whole season of the show veering from one malady to another, it feels like You’re the Worst has meandered away from its comedy roots. That’s not at all to say that the series shouldn’t explore such things. In fact, as I’ve mentioned, to this point, Falk’s particular handling and the way he manages to walk the line between serious and funny has been impressive. Perhaps the one true fault here is timing. Transitioning through depression, loss, and PTSD in quick succession led to this moment of (Falk) feeling forced to address something, but also lessened its impact. The importance of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs incompetence; of another character’s failed attempts to self-medicate and/or drop his meds and just deal with it; of having a shared experience with fellow soldiers and understanding he’s not alone: they’re all near perfectly encountered; Borges could easily find his way to an awards ceremony. That said, “Twenty-Two” could have held much more meaning were it not dovetailed into a seeming mental health disorder-of-the-week format that’s overtaken the heart of this excellent series. The whole tone has shifted, and now to swing back from whence it came is a gargantuan task; I’m not sure how it can be done in a non-dismissive manner. I’m a little anxious to see where we go from here.
You’re the Worst airs on FXX, Wednesday nights.