You’re The Worst has always excelled at maneuvering between different tones. One minute it can be a nasty comedy that trades in cutting barbs and graphic sex. The next minute it can be a poignant romance that stares intently at the dark spots of coupledom. The series never approached comedy and drama as oppositional ideas, but rather supportive forces working in tandem. I was never someone who believed You’re The Worst sacrificed jokes whenever it decided to take Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship seriously or when the series tackled depression and PTSD. Falk and company could always return to any number of reliable comedic wellsprings to offset the heaviness without anesthetizing it.
But it’s been a while since You’re The Worst relied almost entirely on those wellsprings for a whole episode. “What Money?” is the series’ top-to-bottom funniest outing in a while, one that uses a simple premise—Jimmy comes into a $700,000 advance for his screenplay and decides to keep it from Gretchen—to bring back a host of recurring characters and become a joke machine for a half hour. Credited writers Evan Mann and Gareth Reynolds use every weapon in You’re The Worst’s arsenal to bring out the best in everyone as they struggle to readjust to new circumstances.
Now, comedy is, obviously, subjective, and some of you simply won’t find “What Money?” as funny as I do. Even if that’s the case, however, I still think it deserves some recognition for the sheer diversity of jokes and the speed at which they’re delivered. The episode begins with a whole scene about come eating—the reveal that Gretchen’s extremely important bridal request involves Jimmy tasting his own ejaculate is only matched by Gretchen calling Jimmy a “come-hungry jizz goblin” after she catches him tasting it again when she’s out of the room—and then proceeds to go in every other direction from there. There are funny one-liners and misplaced Biggie references and rebooted characters and throwaway gags involving cotton candy, even absurd premises that play out mostly off screen. For example, it’s not just that Paul F. Tompkins passive aggressively tortures Edgar by pressuring him to eat Cronuts and two liters of split plea soup, it’s also that he kidnaps his grandmother and takes her to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles just to catch him in a lie. That’s real commitment to a weird bit of Tompkins being the kind of “bad, bad man” who stuffs crows in dishwashers.
Mann and Reynolds structure “What Money?” around the guest stars, but not before giving Chris Geere a solo showcase of a guy falling apart with joy at his newfound riches. After Jimmy receives the check and impulsively declines to inform Gretchen about it (he claims he’s excited about a library card, to which Gretchen responds, “Not exactly amazing news, but you’re on a cum high. I’ve been there.”), he goes a bit mad. At first he’s elated (he immediately masturbates to the sight of the check), but his joy curdles into panicked paranoia. He doesn’t know what to do with the money other than find new places to hide it, so he turns to the Internet (“Rich, now what?” is his Zoiddle search) and ends up with a drone that he almost immediately loses.
Jimmy turns to Lindsay’s ex-husband and former men’s rights activist Paul, of all people, for financial advice. Paul almost immediately takes a dollar from Jimmy in exchange for confidentiality and advises him to hide the money from his super-dependent fiancée because of her enormous debt and reckless spending behavior. However, it’s not Gretchen that Jimmy has to worry about, but rather Becca and Vernon, who both futilely vie for a slice of the cash. Becca goes the blackmail route and threatens to send a compromising picture of herself in the nude while in bed with Jimmy to Gretchen. Unfortunately, Becca can’t see Jimmy’s power play a few moves ahead in which he threatens to send a picture of Becca’s caesarian scar to her mother, who believes her older daughter had a vaginal birth. Meanwhile, Vernon attempts to appeal to Jimmy’s romantic side by delivering a long monologue about renewed intimacy in his marriage that ends with a plea for $14,000 to buy a Korean meatball truck so he can turn it into a roving medical unit. (Todd Robert Anderson delivers Emmy-level work with his speech, but it’s his immediate return to his Vernon-like nature—pouting that Becca won’t take him to Yogurtland, eating Edgar’s abandoned grilled cheese, requesting to be in Sam and the trio’s new video with a firm, “Don’t be dicks!”—that really made me miss his presence.)
Meanwhile, Gretchen’s contained, simple B-story in “What Money?” provides ample opportunity for the two lovebirds to ultimately converge. In short, Gretchen has to tell Sam, Shitstain, and HoneyNutz 2 (Brandon Black)—Sam fired Zachary (Allen Maldonado) after learning he was secretly 45-years-old last season—that Lindsay will be taking over the day-to-day publicity operations. Gretchen takes them to a carnival, but Sam sniffs out Gretchen’s intentions almost immediately. The trio eventually ends up at Jimmy’s house to inform Gretchen they’re planning to leave her firm, but Lindsay, who bursts in to the room with champagne and tampons claiming, “Our pussies getting drunk tonight!”, impresses them with a new media strategy that motivates them to get back into the studio. “This job is not that hard, Gretch.” Lindsay tells her stunned friend. “It’s just asking for things and I’m a really good asker.” Gretchen immediately realizes it’s Lindsay’s shamelessness that makes her an excellent publicist.
After Vernon and Paul force his hand, Jimmy comes clean to Gretchen, who acts appropriately blasé about the news, claiming that she could have easily married any one of her rich ex-boyfriends if she cared about money. “I’m not horny for stuff, dummy,” she tells him. “Never have been. I’m just a bottomless pit of need for constant male validation.” In fact, she’s more impressed that he ate his come at her request than his new money. In another impulsive decision, Jimmy uses the money to pay off the mortgage on his house, which sends all the vultures away. Later, he buys Gretchen a shiny red car so she doesn’t have to take Lyfts everywhere and, subsequently, pretend to be disabled so they don’t take off after she inevitably makes them wait. These are major purchases that go along way to sealing their commitment together, but as soon as Gretchen mentions that they’re “turning into grown-ups,” Jimmy quickly whisks his wife for pancakes to take their mind off the scariness of what that implies.
Seeing as this is You’re The Worst, “What Money?” couldn’t be completely fun and games. Mann and Reynolds add a dash of bitterness to the proceedings at the very end with a brief, fast-forward glimpse at a scratched-up convertible and Jimmy’s house in escrow. Good times, bad times, Jimmy and Gretchen have had their share, but neither seem to last very long. The two continue to bounce back and forth between joyful moments and sorrow ones. At some point, that car will just be a reminder of a good memory beneath a repository of less-than-good ones. That forever house, the place where they fell in love, will soon fall out of their hands. The present might be bright, but the future is gray.
- Though the mere concept of HoneyNutz 2 is amazing, especially Shitstain’s boiling frustration at his awkward incompetence, I hope that Allen Maldonado makes one last appearance before the series wraps. He last appeared in the third season episode “The Inherent, Unsullied, Qualitative Value of Anything” way back in 2016. It might be hard to swing given his burgeoning film career, his recurring role on Black-ish, and his starring role on The Last O.G., but still.
- Best headlines that come up after Jimmy enters his Zoiddle search: “Poor-Brain No More!”; What Are The Cayman Islands And How Do I Get My Money There?”; “Say No To The Yacht!”
- Gretchen’s expanded to-do list: 4. Remember not to sexually harass (bad now); 5. Rethink Honey Nutz 2; 6. Tell Theresa in accounting she chews too loud!; 7. Meeting at 3 (Tacos); 8. Research how to open bank account; 9. Lindsay, if you read this I’ll give you $1000.
- Music corner: Episode ends with “Some Kind of Cowgirl” by Slothrust, which is embedded below.
- Apparently, Lindsay has a compulsion for fellatio whenever she’s around newfound wealth, but it evaporates as quickly as it appears. After Jimmy pays off his mortgage, she declares, “I no longer wish to suck the dick for money reasons.”
- Paul immediately broke his confidentiality agreement with Jimmy because Becca also shares Lindsay’s scent for the rich. It’s a Cottumaccio family trait.
- Of course, Jimmy thinks it’s “Mo Money, Mo Issues With Which To Contend.” Of course.
- I referenced it above, but my hardest laugh of the night was easily HoneyNutz 2 dipping his cotton candy in the Bobbing for Apples tank and then frantically digging it around for it after it dissolves.
- “This is precisely how my parents told me they were getting divorced. They thought it wouldn’t hurt as much over mini-golf. Now every time I see a windmill, I throw up. That’s why I can never go to the Netherlands.”
- “Besides, a comedian taking your grandmother out to dinner does not sound like a problem. I have a problem. I’m incredibly rich!”