September 19, 2014

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


Everyone on Stephen Falk’s FX comedy YOU’RE THE WORST is a wreck, and yet the pieces of the show have fallen together rather neatly.  The series isn’t so much an anti-rom-com as a kicking and screaming one, peopled by characters who, if they aren’t doing terrible things, do right ones for the worst possible reasons.  They’re led by, for lack of a better word, our heroes:  Jimmy (Chris Geere) and Gretchen (Aya Cash), self-centered ninnies who are sometimes bitingly smart yet also often idiots, and who just can’t stand the fact that they might be in love.

The show walks a tough line between being tasteless with inspiration and just for the sake of outrageousness:  in tonight’s season finale, written by Falk and directed by Matt Shakman, having Gretchen foul herself while jogging wasn’t strictly necessary, but it provided a punchline later on, when she was accurately able to describe it as only the second worst thing that had happened to her that day.  The finale brought together all of Worst‘s misfit toys for a disastrous barbecue at the home of the show’s favorite punching bag Becca (Janet Varney), a former girlfriend of Jimmy’s at whose wedding to Vernon (Todd Robert Anderson) Jimmy and Gretchen first met in the pilot, Gretchen being the best friend of Becca’s wildly erratic and insecure sister Lindsay (Kether Donohue).

All of them, plus Jimmy’s housemate Edgar (Desmin Borges), made asses of themselves at the party, set up to feature the announcement of Becca’s pregnancy (which she announced in a floor-length evening gown).  Lindsay, who has contempt for her dull husband Paul (Allan McLeod) and has been having sex with just about everyone, decided to make nice with Paul, only to find out that he was having an “emotional affair” with a woman he’d met in a homebrew chatroom.  This led her to some plaintive karaoke, attracting the interest of Edgar, who had himself come to the party with a hired fake-British fake-roommate to prove to Jimmy that he didn’t care that they were no longer living together, a ruse Jimmy saw through almost immediately (but still invited him back).  Meanwhile, the fact that Becca had recently made a pass at Jimmy came out, infuriating Vernon–until Edgar put him unconscious in a headlock.

You’re the Worst has such a weird negativity-is-funny energy that it can get away with some plotlines that would normally be found in a more typical sitcom, like Gretchen finding an engagement ring in Jimmy’s bureau and assuming wrongly that he meant to propose, causing her to act out horribly and leave.  That’s a familiar trope, but it paid off when Gretchen later convinced herself that marrying Jimmy would be the “punk rock” thing to do and humiliated herself accepting his nonexistent proposal.  (That being the worst thing to happen to her that day.)  What works in Falk’s conception is that while Gretchen and Jimmy have almost no tolerance for any of the other people they encounter, they’re remarkably willing to accept each others’ dreadful failings.

Even more than most comedies, You’re the Worst is reliant on the chemistry between its actors, and Geere and Cash are terrific together, shards of glass that occasionally soften in each others’ presence.  When Jimmy responded to the “proposal” disaster by impulsively asking Gretchen to move in with him, it was clearly something he desperately both did and didn’t want to do, and at the end of the episode, when she was forced to come live with him because her apartment caught on fire (a vibrator mishap), a split screen provided a Graduate-type moment of the pair’s wildly mixed feelings.  Borges and Donohue are also splendidly screwed-up figures, with Borges providing the show with its closest thing to a calm center (albeit one afflicted with PTSD), and Donohue capable of all kinds of crazy.

You’re the Worst is uneven, and an inspired half-hour like “Sunday Funday,” which centered on an increasingly bizarre Sunday trek through LA activities (the series makes superb use of locations) can be followed by one that’s more slack.   It’s got a genuinely original slant on its genre, though, and that’s worth a lot.  The ratings haven’t been anything to sing about, but FX has tended to be patient with its comedies that are on-brand (and which also typically are produced on very low budgets), so it would seem to have a fighting chance to return.  It’s earned the chance to tell more stories about its horrible, oddly likable inhabitants.


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."