You’re All Just Dancing like Some Uncoordinated Doomsday Cult: A look at one of the year’s strongest half-hours on TV.

Aya Cash kills it as Gretchen in You're the Worst.

                              Aya Cash kills it as Gretchen in You’re the Worst.

     You’re the Worst was already one of my favorite shows. I look forward to watching it every week. But last Wednesday’s episode entitled “There is Not Currently a Problem” proved that this show is one of the best sitcoms or anti-sitcoms to come along in the last five years. Currently in its second season on FXX, this show is about a couple in their late 20s still trying to figure out their place in the world and how to be successful adults. Jimmy, the male lead of the show, is a British novelist. His girlfriend Gretchen stumbled into a job managing a rap group. What makes the show unique is the fact that show creator, Stephen Falk, lets these characters be extremely flawed but still have a lot of likable qualities. The characters in You’re the Worst are monsters, but they’re monsters that evolve. The first season of the show was about two self-centered people admitting they like each other, while its sophomore outing has focused more on them learning to be content in the relationship and how to live with each other’s weirdness. For example, Jimmy pre-writes his heckles at performers and has a dedicated disguise mustache. Gretchen eats floor candy.
A running motif in season two has Gretchen sneaking out of the house to drive somewhere while Jimmy is asleep. At the end of the previous episode we get the payoff to this bit of story and learn that Gretchen is going off to cry alone in her car. Jimmy learns what she’s doing and is relieved he’s not being cheated on. This episode opens the next morning with some classic Jimmy and Gretchen banter about the dream Jimmy just woke up from. Even though it’s a relatively lighthearted conversation about Jimmy’s weird attraction to Janis Joplin, there’s a clear look of worry and dread in his girlfriend’s eyes. It’s Sunday, so the couple’s routine is to drink Bloody Mary’s and do nothing all day. Jimmy subtly but immediately changes the routine by choosing to shower so he can work out some of his weird feelings about Janis Joplin.
In the next scene, Gretchen walks into the kitchen to find someone she doesn’t know sitting at her table. It’s Dorothy, the maybe girlfriend of Jimmy’s other roommate, the PTSD-stricken war veteran Edgar. Dorothy is an improv sketch comic. As Gretchen points out, Dorothy is a ”theater girl” who immediately greets Gretchen with an improvised old-timey song about their names. You can see the immediate tension in Gretchen’s body language. She is rightfully annoyed and angry because Dorothy has taken the last Bloody Mary. Aya Cash, who plays Gretchen, completely conveys her discomfort with her body language. She is visibly put off when her boyfriend tries to come off as cool to Dorothy by bringing up a bad improv suggestion he threw out when he and Edgar went to see one of her shows. It’s then pointed out that the foursome will be stuck in the house all day as this the day of the Los Angeles Marathon. By making this a bottle episode (an episode taking place entirely in one location) the tension immediately gets ratcheted up a few notches. When Gretchen thinks about being stuck in the house all day she responds with an urgent, “No, we can’t be!” She then takes her Bloody Mary, just mostly vodka and a celery stick, and sits on their countertop ripping off the leafy parts nervously. The secondary plot in this episode involves Jimmy trying to catch a mouse that is loose in the house. As he leaves the kitchen to go deal with the rodent problem, Gretchen is dancing (unaccompanied by music) in the middle of the living room with Dorothy, drink in hand. This is where she spends the majority of the runtime of the episode. She’s clearly dancing and drinking to distract herself from whatever’s going on in her head.
This doesn’t stop even when her best friend Lindsay shows up possibly having run part of the Los Angeles Marathon without knowing it. Gretchen doesn’t want to engage with anyone or anything once she’s in the living room; her responses are uninterested and terse to the questions she is asked. After Jimmy asks for her help looking for the mouse underneath the fridge, it’s clear Jimmy is concerned about Gretchen’s behavior. She, in turn, asks him what his deal is with mice. He explains, “I just want to catch the mouse. There is no greater significance to it. My childhood home had mice, I thought nothing of it. One day my mate Daniel spent the night and woke up to a mouse chewing on his nipple. From then on everybody called me mouseboy, my dad even.” This showcases one of the similarities between Jimmy and Gretchen, their single-minded focus. Jimmy has a mouse, Gretchen has whatever’s been going on inside her head.
The tension reaches a crescendo and breaks when there is no more booze in the house. After being told several times she may want to slow down on drinking, Gretchen freaks out, finally letting a torrent full of righteous, spiteful anger spilled forth. I couldn’t find a transcript, so enjoy the scene itself:
Finally, after an oddly frank talk with Lindsay, Gretchen apologizes to everyone for her outburst before all the supporting players leave the scene and we’re left with just our two leads. Gretchen reluctantly reveals to Jimmy that she suffers from clinical depression. This is a huge step in the character’s growth.
This was just a superb episode and one that proves that You’re The Worst and its actors are something special. To deal with something as serious as depression in a half-hour television show takes real skill; to do that and have it be funny and emotional is a real rarity. In closing, you should be watching the show


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