“Maybe buying in is really the punk rock choice.”
Adulthood doesn’t have a timeline. No one suddenly becomes an adult at 18 or 21 or 25 or whatever age society deems appropriate. No one wakes up one morning and realizes that they’ve grown up. No one can will themselves into adulthood just by waking up earlier or drinking only on the weekends or even getting married. Maturation is a slow process and it happens by unconsciously floundering in adolescence until you slowly but surely stop fucking around and realize what you want and why you want it. Even then, you’ll still make mistakes and change your mind and maybe even ruin some relationships you hold dear, but the difference is that you’ll hold yourself accountable for your actions. You start taking responsibility for yourself as a living, breathing human being on a planet where your actions matter, even if it’s just to your small circle of friends. Or so I’ve been told. I’m not an adult. Not yet, anyway. Not even close.
The best part of “Fists And Feet And Stuff” isn’t that Jimmy and Gretchen reconcile or Lindsay and Paul’s marriage finally crumbles or that Edgar puts Vernon into a chokehold, it’s that it’s about trying. It’s about accepting that in order to live in this world, you need to give a shit. It’s about realizing that adulthood is a choice that one makes. You’re The Worst has been slowly building to this throughout their debut season. Jimmy and Gretchen have spent their lives running away from adulthood, preferring to stay ensconced in their myopia and narcissism. You know why? Because it’s easy. It’s easy because you have nothing to lose when you don’t care about anything. But Jimmy and Gretchen do care about each other, and it’s scary, but avoiding it doesn’t change the facts.
“Fists And Feet And Stuff” is mostly set in Becca and Vernon’s claustrophobic BBQ party where, unbeknownst to any of the guests, Becca wants to announce that she’s pregnant. It’s her big day and it’s slowly going to get ruined by our heroes’ own dilemmas. Jimmy goes to the party because he wants to apologize to Gretchen; Lindsay is spiraling into her latent alcoholism and sex addiction; Edgar wants to show off to Jimmy that he’s moved on, but he’s really living out of his car and cleaning toilets on the side; and Gretchen is still confused about everything—Jimmy’s wedding ring, her friendship with Lindsay, the effects of processed food on her digestive system, etc. It’s a situation ripe for a massive blow-up that’s been bubbling to the surface.
The moment that sparks the blaze is when Lindsay drunkenly tries to kiss Jimmy and Gretchen catches her in the act. Lindsay chases her down to a basement and confronts Gretchen about leaving her behind. It’s when they start talking that Gretchen realizes it’s time to start trying, and that means confronting Jimmy about his “proposal.” It’s a very sweet moment when Gretchen and Jimmy first see other. Jimmy apologizes for his behavior with her parents and Gretchen talks herself into possibly marrying him. “Maybe we’re like two pit bulls,” she says desperately. “You put either with another dog, and that dog is toast. But together, they’re couch buds. They nullify the threat through mutually assured destruction!” Cash’s acting in this moment is superb because you see her diving head first into a pool of new experiences…and it comes crashing down when Jimmy realizes what she’s talking about and finally tells her that the ring was for Becca three years ago. She’s devastated and embarrassed, but can’t leave the party because Lindsay is afraid she’ll go off the deep end after Paul sees her trying to kiss Jimmy.
Shortly thereafter, Becca stands next to Vernon, who’s shitfaced off of his patented “trash juice,” and announces to the party that she’s pregnant. This sets off Lindsay, who’s tired of being upstaged by her older sister, and she announces on a whim that she and Paul are going to have a baby as well. Shocked and appalled, Paul finally stands up for himself and tells her that he’s been having an emotional affair with someone he met on a Home Brew chat room (of course). He tells her he wants a divorce and then leaves. This of course leads to another set of revelations—Becca tried to sleep with Jimmy and Jimmy tried to kiss Becca a few weeks prior—but it all culminates when Vernon lunges at Jimmy and Edgar saves the day. He puts Vernon in a chokehold and calmly walks away while the guests look on in horror and Jimmy looks on in pride. It’s a very broad, sitcom-y moment, but it nevertheless feels earned, especially because of how well the series has developed these characters over the course of ten episodes. Their actions are believable even if they’re a little outrageous.
But the homestretch is when the finale really falls into place. Jimmy travels to Gretchen’s place, professes his love, and asks her to move in. He offers her a key and she slaps it out of his hand, telling him that he’s only doing this because he’s afraid he’ll lose her, but he swears he was going to ask her to move in at the party. He gives a patented “Jimmy” speech about how the worst possible draft of his life is one without Gretchen in it, and Gretchen is understandably moved, but still doesn’t want to move in quite yet. But then, her vibrator, which is plugged into a bunch of Christmas lights, catches fire and burns down her apartment. External circumstances have forced Jimmy’s hand and Gretchen decides to move in.
You’re The Worst’s debut season ends perfectly with two moments that illustrate just how good this series is at the height of its game. The first is the revelation that Jimmy didn’t plan on asking Gretchen to move in with him at the party, but that it was a Hail Mary in order to win Gretchen’s affections. This isn’t exactly surprising, but following the heartfelt sincerity of his words, it’s a nice little deflation that fits You’re The Worst’s perspective quite well. People don’t change overnight and they often don’t change at all. Of course, Jimmy didn’t have a plan in place. He was acting out of fear and loneliness. It’s normal and understandable, and it’s a nice check on Falk’s part that Jimmy didn’t suddenly become an angel just because he was dumped.
But the second moment is the return of the split-screen motif with Jimmy and Gretchen nervously staring off into space as they contemplate the choices they’ve made. I know that I name-checked the ending to The Graduate a few weeks prior, but I definitely spoke too soon, because this is the real homage, intended or otherwise. Leaps of faith can be cathartic and beautiful, and most filmed entertainment, romantic comedies or otherwise, end on that moment of catharsis because it’s happy. But if The Graduate ended on Ben and Elaine running out of the chapel, I don’t think it would be considered such a classic. It’s that penultimate 40-second static shot of the both of them nervously staring forward into an uncertain future as their smiles slowly fade. They’ve taken the leap, but what’s next? Maybe despair. Maybe regret. Maybe failure. “There is horrible sadness and pain coming, and we’re inviting it,” Gretchen remarks when she and Jimmy reconcile, but that doesn’t really hit until they’re actually moving boxes into Jimmy’s house. They’re closer together, but as the split-screen suggests, they’re also facing their own inner fear. It’s possible the whole thing will blow up in their face, but at least they’re trying. Sometimes that’s enough. Sometimes that’s all that counts.
- I haven’t really talked about Edgar in this review, but that’s also because the episode resolves his storyline a little too neatly. When Jimmy learns that Edgar’s living out of his car and the actor who he brought as a cover isn’t really his friend, he asks Edgar to move back in rent-free. While it was nice when Jimmy describes him as one of the few genuinely decent people on the planet, Falk sort of rushes over this moment to get to the other spare threads.
- Kether Donohue does a great cover of Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work,” which brought to mind the ending of She’s Having A Baby, a lesser John Hughes film. Edgar falls head over heels during her rendition.
- Vernon is a real comedic winner here what with his trash juice that no one wants and his boorish commentary.
- Lindsay wonders if she and Gretchen are feminists. Gretchen responds that they’re just running away from stuff, which is more fear than feminism.
- I have never disliked Becca more than when she actually said the words, “hashtag blessed.”
- “Dave’s got a billion stupid kids and Slider’s a state senator now. It sucks.”
- “Your feet are awful, Bec. Shallow nail beds, pathetic arches. I only forced myself to finish on the abominable thing so you wouldn’t know how repulsive they really are.”
- “I had to figure out my own shit, and I can’t do that with you sitting on my shoulder like some stacked cartoon devil whispering, ‘Take dicks, do more coke, help me destroy my marriage.’”
- “I shit myself earlier and that is only the second most embarrassing thing that has happened to me today.”
- “DO I HAVE TO DRINK ALL THIS TRASH JUICE BY MYSELF?!”
- Season Grade: A-
- That wraps up my reviews of this season of You’re The Worst. Thank you guys for reading, commenting, and generally keeping it together. Hopefully it gets renewed and I’ll be back next year. But if not, it’s been a good ride! I have embedded both the music video to Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work” and the ending to The Graduate below to hold y’all over.