Friday, July 18, 2014

YOU'RE THE WORST Is Actually the Best

Article originally written for Seat42F.

FX has a new sitcom called YOU’RE THE WORST. As the phrase suggests, the show follows two people who many would consider ‘the worst’ for their self-involvement and lack of consideration for others. Neither has had much luck in the romance department, but a no-strings hook up at a wedding quickly leads to the possibility of something more when both are forced to admit a growing attraction to one another and the possibility that they want a significant other in their lives.

The cast is headed by Chris Geere (Waterloo Road) as Jimmy and Aya Cash (Traffic Light) as Gretchen, two wonderfully funny actors in the roles mentioned above. Both have a charm about them that transcends their poor behavior, letting viewers in on why someone might be drawn to them, despite their many readily apparent flaws. They aren’t bad people; they just haven’t had a reason to grow up yet until they find each other. Thus, they are both on a journey of self-improvement in conjunction with the beginnings of a real relationship, and their similarities mean they can chart their own path in this, not forced to unnecessarily change for somebody that wouldn’t appreciate the way they are.

YOU’RE THE WORST is obviously not a traditional love story. It starts with obnoxious behavior and never quite escapes that pattern. Whether it involves telling off a bride on her wedding day or ‘borrowing’ a car from someone you barely know without permission, neither Jimmy nor Gretchen would fit into the mold of what audiences have come to expect from a romantic comedy. So because the story, by necessity, must veer off into a course other than the time-worn one, it allows the writers the freedom to explore different things than you would find in your basic ninety-minute rom-com.

What this means, most obviously, is that the show is filthy. From foot fetishes to spitting, the pilot immediately establishes a tone that is most definitely for mature audiences. This works fine for FX, as many of their shows fit into that category, and those viewers that are already watching that network likely won’t find anything too much more offense than they’re accustomed to in YOU’RE THE WORST. What’s more, the material is genuinely funny, earnest and sincere, rather than gross just for the sake of being gross. A lot can be forgiven if the characters are likeable and they’re exhibiting an honest part of their personality, which is where the humor comes from here, rather than ridiculous situations or awful mishaps.

I think it does help that both Jimmy and Gretchen have a best friend, rounding out the main cast, who see the positive qualities in these two and reflect those for the audience to see, too. Desmin Borges (Tower Heist) and Kether Donohue (Pitch Perfect) play Edgar and Lindsay, respectively. Edgar is a war veteran who Jimmy allows to crash with him, while Lindsay is a reformed version of Gretchen, meaning that these two players aren’t exactly serving the same purpose, even as they nicely redeem our protagonists. It’s a pleasing dynamic, though I would like to see Lindsay and Edgar developed further in their own right, more so than they are in the pilot, as the show goes on.

I really, really like YOU’RE THE WORST. There are some clever parallels and jokes in the writing, the narrative not always taking the predictable path. It has a similar sensibility as The League, but may appeal more balanced to the genders. It feels fresh and modern, showing us familiar types but making them their own. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with scenes that are just plain sexy, dancing the line of risqué that is permitted on non-premium cable television, and this has plenty of those.

YOU’RE THE WORST premieres Thursday, July 17th at 10:30 p.m. ET.

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