1. It’s messy.
The central conceit of You’re the Worst is simple enough: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl have sex. Boy and girl decide to continue sleeping together even though they’re thoroughly incompatible commitment-phobes. But these are rich, complicated characters in nuanced situations. The relationship between Jimmy (Chris Geere) and Gretchen (Aya Cash) is relatably confounding. There is no easy fix to their all-too-human problems. Whether you root for them based on chemistry alone, or you remain convinced they should both run screaming, watching them navigate unfamiliar terrain makes for compelling viewing.
2. The difficult characters aren’t unlikable.
Jimmy and Gretchen are total assholes, but they’re also completely charming. It’s not really a paradox — surely we all know people who are fun to be around and also impossible to get along with. When it comes to representing these types on TV, it’s a fine line. Sometimes we root for the antihero, and sometimes the characters we love to hate quickly become characters we hate and wish would go away. Credit for You’re the Worst’s success goes to Geere and Cash, but also to the writers for grounding Jimmy and Gretchen in reality. While they’re occasionally insufferable, it’s in a way that we can appreciate and embrace.
3. It’s fucking hilarious.
Great characters and plotlines aside, You’re the Worst is consistently, darkly funny. When it comes to cable comedies, many of which blur the line between comedy and drama (see: every half-hour series on HBO), the laughs-per-minute ratio is often less of a concern. That’s why it’s such a pleasant surprise that You’re the Worst balances its storytelling with solid jokes. They’re not laugh-track-ready punchlines but rather, like everything else on the show, steeped in the inherent humor of real-life situations. Both snappy comebacks and visual gags serve the story, which can be a sitcom rarity.
4. It’s sexually honest.
There have been raunchier shows than You’re the Worst, but it’s rare to find one that captures the awkwardness of casual sex while still making sex look fun. Jimmy and Gretchen’s epic fuckfest in the pilot was equal parts sexy and absurd, because that’s what sex is. As with the characters, whose flaws are readily apparent in every episode, the sex on the show isn’t polished. The result is a more believable relationship: Frankly, these two come across like two people who are actually rubbing their parts together. And gross as that sometimes can be, it’s also clear why Jimmy and Gretchen are so drawn to one another.
5. The supporting cast is great.
Geere and Cash are stellar leads, but let’s not overlook Desmin Borges, who plays Jimmy’s PTSD-addled war veteran roommate Edgar, and Kether Donohue, who plays Lindsay, Gretchen’s newly married best friend. You’re the Worst clearly cast the best comedic performers instead of the biggest names, and it shows — these are up-and-comers who are already making a great impression. You want to see more of them. Again, it helps that these are hilarious characters: Both could easily be reduced to a single joke, but instead are developed into fully fleshed people who also serve as ideal foils for Jimmy and Gretchen.
6. It perfectly captures Los Angeles.
With lines like “Fun hipster shit is just poor Latino shit from 10 years ago,” You’re the Worst has its finger on the pulse of terrible L.A. people. In fact, part of what makes Jimmy so likable is his ability to call out the city’s bullshit, like a miserable dining experience at a restaurant called Insouciance, or all-day drinking and brunching on “Sunday Funday.” It helps if you see yourself in the loathsome L.A. behavior on display, but either way, simply knowing the kind of people who engage in these activities makes for funny, cringe-inducing viewing. Honestly, a show called You’re the Worst should make you feel a little bad about yourself.
7. The emotional resonance catches you off-guard.
Like Jimmy, you’ll be shocked to find that you feel things. You’re the Worst is an anti-romantic comedy in many ways — but there’s still some real romance buried under the callousness. And those emotional moments, because the show is so crass, hit that much harder. It’s still subtle: It’s not as though the series has suddenly transformed into a melodrama. It’s more that you fall for these characters, not in spite of their flaws but because of them, and you find yourself completely invested in their not-a-relationship. If Jimmy and Gretchen can’t make it work— and there’s a good chance they won’t — expect actual feelings to be felt. Damnit.
You’re the Worst airs Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. on FX.
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