July 18, 2014

THE SKED Series Premiere Review: “You’re the Worst”


YOU’RE THE WORST:  Thursday 10:30PM on FX – Worth a Look

YOU’RE THE WORST overplays its hand from the start, and its gooey center is all too visible beneath its hard-candy exterior, but it’s still far more enjoyable than Married, its companion comedy on FX.  Series creator Stephen Falk’s concept (he’s a longtime associate of Jenji Kohan, a member of the writing/producing staff on both Weeds and Orange Is the New Black) is a cousin of the No Strings Attached/Friends With Benefits rom-coms of the last few years in which casual sex partners are horrified to realize that they’ve developed real feelings for one another, combined with the venerable trope of the couple who bicker so much they must be made for each other.

Failed Brit novelist Jimmy (Chris Geere) and cynical party-girl and publicist Gretchen (Aya Cash) meet at an LA wedding–he’s the bride’s bitter ex-boyfriend, she’s the bride’s sister’s best friend–and hook up, in a sequence that pushes the envelope for basic cable sex.  Neither of them would dream of admitting it, but each knows that sparks have been struck (they enjoy talking to each other between bouts of lovemaking almost as much as they enjoy the sex), and underneath their near-constant insults runs a current of kindred spirits.  By the end of the pilot, they’ve agreed that since neither believes in romance nor expects anything of the other except awful behavior and disappointment, they might as well keep seeing each other.

Although quite a bit of this is hackneyed (Jimmy has the requisite slacker best friend who lives with him; Gretchen has an ex she can’t seem to shake even though he doesn’t really get her), and the relationship is ultimately heading in the same direction as any Katherine Heigl movie, some of Falk’s writing is sharp, especially when the pair are throwing invective at each other.  More importantly, Cash and Geere have genuine chemistry together, and that’s the key to any rom-com.  Both actors are skillful at placing some vulnerability within their take-no-prisoners exteriors.  (In keeping with the aspirational genre, Jordan Vogt-Roberts’s direction of the pilot is sleeker than the usual FX comedy mode.)

For all its ostentatious rolling of its eyes at the idea of lasting emotional attachment, You’re the Worst is a considerably more hopeful piece of work than Married.  Its promise is that Jimmy and Gretchen can become better people together, two misfits who’ve found a match.  (In a different circumstance, one might consider Married the less escapist and more emotionally honest of the two, but Married is profoundly fake in its own way.)  The problem the show is likely to have as it goes forward is that its path is so clear, it could quickly become predictable, with increasingly contrived obstacles placed in the way of Jimmy and Gretchen’s inevitable coupledom–a problem made worse by the scarcity of worthy supporting characters.

Nevertheless, You’re the Worst is far from the warning posed by its title, with enough of a wrinkle to its familiar story that its off-kilter charm is worthy of some attention.  It’s pleasantly unpleasant.


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."