Heh. O.k., just like my Jessica Jones entry in my 2015 Faves post, it turns out that I have more to say about You’re the Worst than I should probably be shoving into that post. And it’s likely not a coincidence that I also had just barely finished YTW‘s season 2 when I started writing that post. But guys, I really love this show. So I’m gonna type a few paragraphs about it. Here’s what I have to say:
Shit!! Yet another show that’s absolutely worthy of topping my half-hour pile. I watched season 1 of this show last year right after I made my 2014 list, for the specific reason that I knew I was probably missing out on something great when I made that list. Turns out I was right. YTW is like if you took the demented comedy of It’s Always Sunny, gave it a love story, and put a legit emphasis on character stories and real-world situations. Season 1 is somewhat lighter overall, focusing primarily on the love story between Jimmy and Gretchen, with several great supporting characters and subplots to fill out the show. But the show has a very unique way of giving its characters real stories that are sometimes heavy, and yet somehow making them feel true-to-life and substantial while still finding the twisted humor in them.
It’s hard to describe, but the best example of this in season 1 is Edgar and his Iraq War experience and his resulting PTSD. It’s a thing he has and that he deals with, and it feels significant, but it provides some bizarrely funny situations as well … in the same way tragic shit can do this in real life. It’s taken seriously as a subplot, but it adds to the humor of the show and never feels like an Afterschool Special.
Season 2 is still hilarious, but it surprised me with a more serious turn halfway through the season, which I think for the most part served to make it an even better and more interesting show. It took the concept I just mentioned with Edgar, and kicked it up a notch with a more serious turn for Gretch – it turns out she battles clinical depression, and it rears its ugly head midway through season 2. I know some people, my friend Shelby included, were not entirely thrilled about this serious turn, because things got a little too real at certain times. And I definitely understand why people would be frustrated, because it meant that the show was not necessarily the same show they signed up for in season 1. And Gretch was kind of taken off the playing field in a couple eps, which was a bummer. But I personally think YTW handled this storyline in a way that made the show and its characters deeper and kept me laughing throughout the season just as much as I always had.
Part of the reason I enjoyed this development was that I had concerns in the first few eps of S2 that there wouldn’t be many more places to take the characters now that the central love story arc has culminated in Gretch & Jimmy being together. Would they do the typical obnoxious TV route of placing artificial barriers between these two, to manufacture drama and break them up and yadda yadda? (I’m looking at you, nearly every other TV show in the universe, e.g. Covert Affairs season 4 which did this in a particularly infuriating way and is still fairly fresh in my memory.)
And what about the characters and their stories in general – what else can be done with the theme of these characters being kinda bad people? Would the show just stay the same course, and thus would it eventually start to feel shallow and morph into another Always Sunny? Don’t get me wrong, I love Always Sunny!! But it was never a show that planned to take anything or anyone seriously. Its a show that aims to give us insane characters who are terrible people who make us laugh our asses off, no more, no less. And it does a fantastic job with that. Point being, it’s a different show than YTW, and I love both of them for their own unique reasons. There’s no reason for them to morph into the same show, and I’m glad YTW solidified its uniqueness in season 2.
Gretch’s depression storyline allowed for two key things:
1) Character development for everyone. It was an explanation of how Gretch got to this place in her life, as a person who seems so shallow and callous on the surface, and who has a teeny tiny bit of a substance abuse problem. But not only did it give us that, it actually allowed the show to further explore Jimmy, Lindsay, and Edgar as well. We learned a lot about Jimmy in how he deals with Gretch’s situation, and likewise with Lindsay. At the point of ep 2.07 “There is not Currently a Problem”, I was becoming worried that Lindsay was becoming a caricature of herself. Her selfish behavior was beyond ridiculous at this point, and she’s hysterical, but I don’t want her to be a complete monster. And just as I was getting very concerned about this, they hit me with this episode where Lindsay suddenly became an actual real person, who made me want to suddenly burst into tears in the final scene with Gretch. I 100% only held in the tears because my husband was sitting next to me.
2) It gave Gretch and Jimmy a challenge in their relationship that was actually realistic, rather than cliched, and eye-roll-inducing, and the same manipulative bullshit we see on every other TV show. When Jimmy was tempted to (and kinda did) cheat on Gretch, we understood why. It wasn’t just some random manufactured plot development that ruined the character and made you want to murder everyone involved. 95% of the time, that’s how this goes, i.e. the storyline being so ridiculous that I want to murder everyone involved. So the incredibly rare times that stories like this are told realistically and in a way that lets you empathize with the characters, I am extremely happy.
For another couple random bonuses of season 2:
1) I absolutely loved the exploration of improv comedy that ran throughout the entire season. Improv, which can be very good on the occasions when everything comes together and everyone strikes gold with their jokes, mostly just makes me feel bored, irritated and super uncomfortable. I couldn’t even watch Whose Line is it Anyway back in the day, that’s how much I can’t stand it. Everyone and their grandmother adored that show, but I wanted nothing to do with it. But what I love about YTW is that even when it makes fun of something, it totally shows both sides of the coin. For instance, Jimmy despises improv with a passion because of the fact that it does away with his entire profession – writing. The show could have spent the entire season just showing Jimmy skewering it, but instead they did they exact opposite: Nearly every one of Jimmy’s attempts at skewering it fell hilariously flat, and he was completely shown up in comedy skills by the improv guys. YTW has a way of making fun of something while also defending/supporting it at the same time.
2) One more random season 2 bonus, off the top of my head: The movie The Babadook got a shout-out not once this season, but TWICE. We just saw that movie a couple months ago and it was scary AF hahaha. Clearly the YTW writers agree with me.
I’m pretty sure this show gets almost no ratings whatsoever, so I’m really happy that all the critical attention has helped it get renewed again for season 3. Bring it on, You’re the Worst, we’ll be waiting and ready for ya.