Despite the implication of the title, “Side Bitch” is all about the female characters on You’re The Worst. Written by Alison Bennett and directed by Wendy Stanzler, the episode takes a deep focus on the struggles after a divorce, secrecy in relationships, and even the difficulties of being a woman working in comedy, and they’re all (mostly) from the perspectives of female characters. Both Jimmy and Edgar take on reactive, secondary roles this week as they take part in stories that are decidedly not about them. The result is one of the freshest episodes of the season that not only answers some lingering questions but also illustrates (again) the wide-ranging capabilities of a show like You’re The Worst.
Case in point: the show can have a whole story with Lindsay at its center struggling on her own without much interference from other cast members. After her divorce, Lindsay still lives in the house she shared with Paul, but hasn’t been paying the utilities, so one day her power goes out. Paul refuses to help her, so Lindsay is left a befuddled mess who doesn’t understand why cars need oil changes. But when she’s forced to find her way home from lunch with Jimmy, she takes a deep breath, walks a bit with a stride in her step, steals a bike after she gets tired, and…ends up exactly where she started. Falk and co. has been fairly empathetic to Lindsay’s post-divorce issues, but Bennett finds both the humor and sadness here. Though Lindsay can be a little ditzy, her feelings aren’t invalid: Paul was responsible for keeping the house running, and now that he’s gone, Lindsay feels useless, and though she gets to crash at her sister’s place, Becca is never going to be the one to make her feel better (“You can see in Vernon’s man cave. He’s at the hospital, and I’m going to pre-natal yoga, so the house should be fairly quiet, but I’m sure you’re used to the deafening silence of an empty house by now.”) But it’s the World’s Favorite Frat Boy Vernon who comes through in the clutch to tell her that though she may not be useful in the “tradish sense” but she’s a good friend and she makes people happy, and sometimes that’s enough. He even holds her for a little minute, even though it’s in exchange for a boob honk.
Then there’s Edgar’s date with Dorothy, his improv teacher. I haven’t really been interested in Edgar’s foray into improv, mostly because it’s built on a lot of semi-stale “bad improv” humor, but it’s “Side Bitch” that really takes the whole storyline in a new direction. Edgar asks Dorothy out on a date and she’s taken aback by his forwardness. See, she’s usually surrounded by comedy dudes who don’t “ask girls out” but joke about it because that’s the only way they know how to talk. When they go out, Dorothy opens up about how it feels to be the only woman in Hey, Put That Down, Brian, an “institution” of an improv troupe, how she feels uncomfortable whenever the other guys jokingly show her their balls, and how if you challenge them on anything, they’ll get defensive and claim women aren’t funny. It’s a fairly accurate, insightful portrayal of a lot of men in general, let alone men in comedy, and it’s pretty great to hear an indictment of comedy dudes in a half-hour comedy.
After Edgar encourages her to speak her mind, Dorothy calls her other group members out on their sexual harassment of her. The guys respond pretty much how you’d expect them to—claims of allyship (“I’m a feminist!”), defensive citations of personal experience (“I was raised by two strong lesbian moms!”), and finally the Irony Card (“I only use my balls ironically!”). Then, Tall Nathan (Echo Kellum), the group leader, throws their sexual relationship in her face and dissolves the group then and there. It’s a funny scene, but it’s also a pretty damning portrayal of how seemingly nice, progressive dudes react when a minority calls them out on their offensive behavior. Plus, there’s the added benefit of Edgar being in a healthy relationship. Borges and guest actress Collette Wolfe sweetly play off each other well, and it’s nice to see two actors give and take (no improv pun intended) like they do.
Finally, there’s the conclusion to the “Where’s Gretchen going?” arc, and it ended just as anti-climactically as I expected. Jimmy’s suspicions get the better of him and he finds her burner in the drawer and eventually starts texting her supposed “side bitch.” When the “side bitch” texts Jimmy about a “cool, new bar in Hollywood” (read: a water bar), he takes Gretchen there to find out who she’s been with. It turns out that Ty The Douchebag Director (Stephen Schneider), Gretchen’s old flame, owns the bar, but isn’t the mystery person. But here’s what’s great about You’re The Worst: There is no mystery person. The only person Gretchen texts from that phone is Sam because Sam gave her that phone (“Sleepy bitches don’t deserve regular phones.”) It turns out that Gretchen has been driving out to the middle of nowhere to cry in her car, and she brings the phone to play Snake. That’s it.
See, here’s the thing: It’s the most likely outcome that happens to show its face whenever something feels like it’s going awry. There was no “side bitch.” There was no illicit affair. There was no massive argument or a break-up or anything like that. There was just a woman who needed some alone time to cry by herself. But you know what’s even better than that reveal? The way Jimmy reacts to the discovery. He isn’t appalled nor does he demand an explanation. He just asks her if it’s something he did, and when she says no, he asks if she should leave, and does when she says yes. It’s what you should do in that scenario, but the ultimate kicker is that Jimmy is more satisfied that Gretchen isn’t sleeping with another guy than concerned that Gretchen doesn’t feel comfortable crying in their house. The last shot is another gut-punch: Jimmy walks away smiling while Gretchen sobs alone in her car. It’s as if getting to know someone better doesn’t inherently mean that your natural responses would be any more mature. That You’re The Worst realizes this fact makes it one of the best.
- The fake-turned-real feud between Sam, Shitstain, and HoneyNutz continues as more and more diss tracks come out. Gretchen takes the three of them to therapy and the whole thing falls apart almost immediately, in part because Sam calls Shitstain “the black John Turturro,” which is…just fantastic.
- On that note, my favorite character on this show may be Shitstain. Darrell Britt-Gibson’s delivery and timing are fantastic. “May I use the remaining time to talk about my parents’ divorce?”
- I do find the fact that Lindsay doesn’t know how cash checks wonderfully on point, and that her main point of reference for someone who does do this is Lee Iacocca.
- The return of Jimmy’s fake mustache is pretty glorious.
- Having Allan McLeod as Paul deliver Vernon lines in his flat delivery was priceless.
- Sam’s response to why he’s not Gretchen’s side bitch: “Bitch eats floor candy, and ain’t seen a foreign film in a decade.”
- “You just look a little tired.” “Cool. Thanks. Your dick’s a weird color. Catch up again tomorrow?
- “Cool new bar in Hollywood? You like old, gross bars in Sketchtown.”
- “Oh, so that’s how you’re gonna play it, is it? Like the two of you haven’t been sneaking around in the wee hours like a goddamn Pinter play?”
- Here’s Dorothy rant in full: “There’s no such thing as sexual harassment in comedy. You’re just a no fun tight-ass until pretty soon you get the tired, ‘Girls aren’t funny’ bullshit, all stemming from the fact that you didn’t wanna bone down some insecure 5’6” neckbeard who once had a meeting with Bob Odenkirk so he thinks he’s no longer a repulsive troll.”
- And let’s close on Gretchen’s completely justified response to the fact that Jimmy brought her to a water bar: “I’m going to bathroom, and when I get back, you are going to take me to a real bar and feed me cheap whiskey until I forget about that time I stopped being able to have sex with my boyfriend ever again because he took me to a bar that only served water.”