December 10, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “You’re The Worst”


Nobody saw Season 2 of YOU’RE THE WORST coming.  Season 1 of Stephen Falk’s series had been high-risk enough, a rom-com that spat on the genre’s conventions while also quietly incorporating them, centered on a couple notable for their narcissism, self-destructiveness and general sense of delusion.  Falk, and his stars Aya Cash and Chris Geere, somehow managed to pull that off, and apparently decided that merely subverting the traditions of a genre wasn’t challenging enough.  So he gave Gretchen (Cash) clinical depression, and tossed Jimmy (Geere)–and the audience–into the thick of dealing with it.

The result was largely a triumph.  Falk and his fellow writer/producers were rigorous about not sentimentalizing Gretchen’s illness, and yet they managed to find laughs in the situation, balancing the scenes so that viewers could feel her character’s misery while also appreciating how darkly funny it, and the reactions of others to it, could be–especially when her illness coincided with a visit from Jimmy’s atrocious family from England.  Cash hit the role out of the park, and Geere had just as challenging a part in navigating the way a character like Jimmy would alternately ignore, rage at, abandon, and try to support his partner.

In tonight’s Season 2 finale, written by Falk and directed by Matt Shakman, Gretchen’s episode of depression had come to its end, and Jimmy was sputteringly furious to discover that her problem wasn’t that her medications needed to be adjusted, but that she’d never been on any at all, because she didn’t want to lose her “edge.”  This led to an extravaganza of bad behavior at the gender-reveal party thrown by Becca (Janet Varney) and Vernon (Todd Robert Anderson), at which both Jimmy and the very pregnant Becca got drunk, Becca’s sister Lindsay (Kether Donohue) had her own pregnancy revealed (by Becca) to Lindsay’s ex Paul (Allan McLeod), whose new girlfriend Amy (Mageina Tovah) violently broke up with him, and Jimmy talked buddy Edgar (Desmin Borges) into breaking up with his eminently lovable girlfriend Dorothy (Collette Wolfe).

It was, to be honest, a bit much for a show that strives not to be cartoonish, a whole lot of plot squeezed into 35 minutes.  (Away from the party, there was also Gretchen’s attempt to seduce Nina, the skiing bar owner played by Tessa Ferrer with whom Jimmy had almost run away during Gretchen’s depression.)  You’re the Worst sometimes has trouble with its supporting characters, especially Becca, who’s an unregenerate monster most of the time, and even sad-sack Edgar, and giving them all Big Moments in a single episode taxed the show’s limits.

For the most part, though, Falk brought things back in line by the episode’s end.  Any opportunity to let Kether Donohue sing is worth taking, and her sweet karaoke duet with Paul, followed by her Graduate-like realization that she was probably making a terrible mistake getting back with him, worked.  Becca and Vernon had a redeeming moment together when the party ended.  Dorothy, it turned out, had no intention of being treated like a TV guest star whose story arc has expired, and she calmly made up with Edgar.  And most importantly, the season ended with one of those rare clear-eyed moments between Jimmy and Gretchen where they cut through their own baggage, as Gretchen acknowledged that she needed to deal seriously with her illness now that she was sharing her life, and responded to Jimmy’s (drunken, but sincere) declaration of love with one of her own.

A show like You’re the Worst that constantly walks the wire is always going to be uneven at times, but when it clicks, there’s no other half-hour on TV that’s better.  Falk and company have a collective novelist’s eye for detail (Babadook jokes!) and an ability to slice laughs out of emotional horror with a scalpel, and their cast is utterly fearless.  Worst gets extremely marginal ratings, but it’s lucky enough to exist in a time when branding is as important as gross ratings points, and on a tiny emerging network that knows it’s a signature series for them, so the series will be back for a Season 3.  One can only imagine where the show will take us next year.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."