The most important scene in “Crevasses,” tonight’s episode of You’re The Worst is a short and seemingly inconsequential one. It’s not the opening scene, which features Jimmy becoming more and more frustrated with his friends’ genuine and exaggerated lack of trivia knowledge, nor is it the scene when Edgar gets a self-esteem boost from two gay guys at a sports bar who tell him to stand up for himself while a barbecue sauce-covered Lindsay forlornly looks on. Instead, it’s when Gretchen stands outside Towels & Things and can’t get herself to enter the store. She keeps walking forward and then making a U-turn, an almost too-perfect metaphor that describes all the characters on You’re The Worst. When asked by an employee if she needs help finding something, she lies about mistaking the all-purpose retail store for a pet shop, and then walks away in tears. And all Gretchen needed to do was buy staples any college freshman needs.
See, You’re The Worst is great at depicting how people tend to project stress-inducing significance onto largely irrelevant tasks. To be fair, this is hardly an original idea. In fact, it’s basically become a sitcom staple. If you look at most major sitcoms of the past 20 years, you will definitely find an A- or B-plot about someone obsessing over an inconsequential event that really stands for something else. So why does You’re The Worst do it so well? It has something to do with the specificity of the characters coupled with their crushingly ordinary struggles. Watch how Jimmy and Gretchen absolutely lose their shit when they realize they have to make their own Bloody Mary’s because Edgar isn’t there to do it for them, and even then they somehow add carrots and mayonnaise to the mix. (I’m reminded of the Simpsons episode when Homer, forced to make dinner after Marge becomes a gambling addict, mixes cloves, Tom Collins mix, and a frozen piecrust into a horrifying concoction.) Jimmy and Gretchen are people who are being dragged into adulthood kicking and screaming while desperately holding onto old ideas of themselves. So when the gang makes a trip to the mall, it’s natural that Gretchen places a ludicrous amount of significance onto buying her own stuff instead of hanging onto things she’s shoplifted or inherited from a strange old lady who thought she was her granddaughter.
But the thing is that Gretchen isn’t just freaking out about buying things like hair dryers and banana holders (“Get off the counter, banana, you fancy now.”). She’s also freaking out about the fact that Jimmy doesn’t really want to make room for Gretchen at all. Sure, he likes that she lives with him, but it’s only on his terms, which means that it’s his house, not their house, and all of Gretchen’s stuff is relegated to whatever fits into three garbage bags in the corner of a room. Jimmy doesn’t see this as that big of a deal, claiming that he’ll find a place for Gretchen’s things, but Gretchen doesn’t want to “live in the crevasses,” like moss. She wants to live with Jimmy, not around him, which naturally means that Jimmy has to make adjustments beyond the theoretical, like allowing Gretchen to share his dresser and not the busted Ikea nightstand he failed to build.
Meanwhile, Lindsay and Edgar are off in in a somewhat muted B-story this week. In the aftermath of her divorce, Lindsay has been taking advantage of Edgar’s affection for her so she can get free stuff like coconut cream pie and tampons, but when she asks him to troll for dudes for her at a sports bar, Poor Edgar finally realizes he’s being manipulated by his crush. It’s a story that’s been told a thousand times before, and even Stephen Falk’s clever writing can’t wipe away its old car smell, but more disconcertingly, Lindsay and Edgar don’t play off each other well when there’s a power imbalance in their relationship. It becomes a game of Lindsay acting abhorrently and Edgar reacting, rather than the two giving and taking. I suppose this is purposeful, and though it’s worth it for some laughs (Kether Donohue unashamedly covered with barbecue sauce is quite funny), it doesn’t make for the most compelling TV. But since it’s so early in the season, one can chalk it up to some natural growing pains.
All in all, “Crevasses” is a funny, but uneven episode of You’re The Worst. Though it features truly impressive work from Aya Cash in Gretchen’s subtly emotional story, it also features a fairly dull Jimmy story about him struggling to find creative inspiration in the mall. As much as I recognize and relate to his procrastination and self-indulgence, it doesn’t really make for the most compelling TV to watch him sit, struggle, become distracted, and then sit and struggle again. In fact, “Crevasses” basically cements the idea that the four principal characters work best together than separate, evidenced by the wonderful opening scene. Every character in You’re The Worst is struggling with adulthood, whether it involves putting someone else’s feelings above your own (eww), or recognizing when you’re being used. It’s only better to go through it together than alone.
- I did enjoy Jimmy’s mini-rant about his own struggles with writer’s block to his agent. He name-checks controversial Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michiko Kakutani, as well as Chuck Klosterman, who apparently sent Jimmy a bottle of scotch for writing about having sex with Megan Thomas in an episode from last season.
- I also liked seeing Steve Agee return as the unnamed affable stoner who seems content with whatever menial job he works. Last season, he was a pizza deliveryman, this season he’s a mall security guard. Unfortunately, he keeps getting distracted by seemingly better opportunities and quits jobs he likes in favor of ones that don’t exist, like when Jimmy asks him if he would hypothetically write a novelization of a movie.
- Agee may also have my favorite line of the night: “Oh my God. I told Eric to suck my dick. Why would I do that? I love that guy!”
- Jimmy’s house apparently has a Bloody Mary drawer. Nice.
- Heh. Mallden. Heh.
- “‘Q’s’ are the elbows of letters.”
- “Kurt Loder was a VJ for MTV, about whom the only connection to space travel was the network’s logo was a man in a space suit.”
- “I’m reminded of when my older brother Salazar took me to see a Raiders game. We were so far away but to me it was like being on the field. Then he sold crank to a Chargers fan in the men’s room and then we used the money to go to Applebee’s.”
- Let’s close with Gretchen’s breakdown in Towels & Things, which somehow features vulnerability, contrition, and a swipe at the patriarchy: “I just moved in with my boyfriend and I don’t have any stuff, except for a food processor and, like, 19 thongs, because even though at first we were like, ‘I am not wearing that,’ the patriarchy somehow convinced us that visible panty lines were unacceptable, so now I’ve just grown accustomed to the feeling of a fabric rope against my actual asshole all day. And anyway, even if I did buy the stuff of a life, there’s nowhere for me to put it because I’m not sure this dude really wanted me to move in because I’m an irresponsible monster who burned down her apartment with her vibrator.”