I know I am not alone in thinking that it has been A LONG SUMMMER of television. With dark, heavy-hitters like "The Leftovers" and "The Bridge" looking for a breath of fresh comedic air on television becomes a necessity to your viewing health and pleasure. Ex. I always tell people to insert a comedy between marathoning seasons of "The Wire". The recommendation for "You're The Worst" came from Grantland's Andy Greenwald, I believe it is his favorite new show of the summer.
The premise of the series is simple: two peoples dysfunctional "just for sex" relationship results in cancerous disasters for them and their friends, but also self discovery and and a genuine modern romance. The series compares to others in the trend of "terrible people" comedy, such as that of other Fx series such as "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" or "The League." However, where those series use simplicity of creating a television comedy, "You're The Worst" relies more on the "quality aesthetic," giving the show's edits, cuts, and cinematography a professional, movie-like appearance. Additionally, for once on FX, you feel genuine empathy toward these terrible people, because we see them as broken and fun, not just plain horrible.
It is hard not to fall in love with these characters from the beginning. Jimmy gets kicked out of his ex's wedding reception, only after insulting the bride and photographing his penis with several disposable wedding favor cameras. Gretchen bumps into him outside where she asks to bum a smoke, and he informs her that the wedding gift she stole was a blender. The two chagrin over institutions, weddings, and the whole concept of monagamy and an epic and gutbustingly hilarious sex montage begins.
The montage is honest, clever, and in many ways a great social commentary on the contemporary view of sex. The montage is broken up into sex and stories, we learn about how terrible these individuals really are and its compared against how dirty and comfortable they are having sex. Stories about drunk driving, foot fetishes, and old crushes, help reveal who these characters are:their ambition, their temperament, and their fears. The brilliance is that unlike typical sex scenes, dramatized so much they look like ecstasy and the ultimate connection, this sex in this feels so casual, almost unimportant. There are references to "spitting down there," "what all girls like," and whether or not its important to be attracted to each other, but the real connection comes from these intermittent scenes. We got sex over with, so lets get to know each other now, and despite their attempts not to, it's clear both have instant chemistry.
We also meet their two side-kicks for which the series is very self-aware about their positions as side-kicks. Edgar is basically Jimmy's caretaker. A veteran with self-diagnosed PTSD. Edgar is somewhat of Jimmy's morale compass, and both the character and the writers are very aware of Edgar's sidekick like status (no fussing over not feeling important). Lindsay, although seeming Gretchen's caretaker, more represents what Gretchen fears most, domesticity in a relationship. Lindsay is married, frustrated, and incredibly self-conscious of her appearance. Where as Edgar often attempts to lead Jimmy out of trouble, Lindsay tens to unintentionally lead Gretchen toward it. Both characters are bubbly, likable, and given just the right amount of screen-time and story to blossom into true supporting characters. If you know people like the protagonists of the series it is to align yourself or view the series through the lens of the supporting characters.
The true magic of "You're the Worst" and what sets it apart from "Its Always Sunny" and "The League" are moments of true catharsis. As an audience member you feel the anxiety of these two characters, the heartbreak and frustration of their behavior, and, most importantly, smile when you see their romance truly shine. "The League" has provided endless hours of great humor, however, the last moment I felt catharsis watching that series was when Andre's wedding was ruined. It was supposed to be funny, but I just felt bad. What keeps you watching this series is that you are rooting for the protagonists to stay together despite their flaws. There are consequences for each other's ridiculous actions, and you see the emotional toll it takes on the characters. This is on-air proof that comedy can be emotional, and, even if subtly, we can be dramatically invested in a comedic series.
What Andy Greenwald said, that really makes this show shine, is (paraphrasing) "that the series is able to take the premise of the pilot and make it episodic and still interesting." Basically despite using the premise of the pilot episodically, the writers are still able to create a compelling series narrative. I like to think this series and its four main character reflect the anxieties and fears many carry around in the late twenties early thirties. It constantly examines the questions of self-worth, "peaking," marrying the wrong person, etc. Most assuredly addresses everyone's fear of the unknown, and ever more so fear confronting that fear (I know SUPERMETA). "You're the Worst" present hopefully a new direction is comedy, and reflects the growing prestige of the FX brand and network. Hilarious, fresh, thoughtful, and only two episodes left, don't miss "You're the Worst," Thursday on FX. Gender friendly!