You’re The Worst primarily focuses on the small steps people take to improve their default behavior. The series keenly recognizes that change occurs incrementally and not drastically. No one wakes up and just realizes their life isn’t where they expected, the world has to keep smacking you in the face day after day until you slowly but surely get the hint. And even when you get the hint, most of us still need a little push out the door. Jimmy bitches and moans about how Gretchen asking for a key to his house symbolizes “the unceasing, inexorable march to predictability, blandness, and mediocrity,” but it’s only because he knows that change is just around the corner. Even Edgar knows that you roll with the byproducts of a relationship you’re not wild about—in Jimmy’s case: predictability, providing emotional support, shopping for decorative sconces—because you like the other person, and he can’t even watch Rachel Ray because his doctor thinks his obsession with her is “unhealthy.”
So it’s important for the development of Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship and the series that Gretchen publicly introduces Jimmy to her friends as “the guy [she’s] sleeping with” at her birthday drinks celebration. It doesn’t really matter that most of the people at the table know already (save for Vernon and Becca, the latter of whom is so infuriated by the coupling that you can just see the future sabotage from a mile away), it’s the actual act that’s significant. They may not know what to properly label their relationship yet, but they’re not hiding it anymore, which is good mostly because it shuts down any potential hijinks that involve them hiding under tables to avoid their friends seeing them together. Geere and Cash don’t overplay the significance of the moment, but just stand together as people, proving once again that their chemistry is so far best thing this series has to offer.
But as it stands, You’re The Worst faces two problems, the first of which is that the episodes so far have been way too aimless. “Keys Open Doors” has its share of good scenes, but there’s also a troubling amount of dead air when it’s only occasionally funny and often boring. I don’t need You’re The Worst to be a frenetic, joke-a-second sitcom nor for it to trade in its sardonic vibe for posturing high-class drama, but it’s so structurally loose that storylines advance and conclude half-assedly: Jimmy freaks out because Gretchen asks for a key to his place, Gretchen freaks out because Jimmy took her request the wrong way, Jimmy stalks Gretchen because he thinks she’s on a date with another guy, they confront each other, and then they make up. I’m fine with meandering, low-key storytelling because when it’s done well you don’t notice that “nothing much happens” because you’re so engrossed in the world of the story, but quite literally, nothing much happened this week besides some vague table setting and some clever insults. You’re The Worst is starting to flesh out its environment (the return of Sam and Ty is a good sign) but it’s not yet compelling enough for me to watch these characters just smirk at each other while they hang out.
This brings me to the second problem, which is slightly more troubling: It’s sometimes difficult to tell if the writing is trying to communicate Jimmy and Gretchen’s own indifference towards their relationship or if the writing itself is indifferent to their relationship. Take that scene at the end when Jimmy and Gretchen confront one another: It’s basically a rehash of the same scene in the alley from last week about expectations and hurt feelings but in a restaurant. Both Jimmy and Gretchen are too scared to commit to anything and will go to great length to either hide their true feelings or lash out for attention. We know this already, and yet You’re The Worst is going through the motions to indirectly explain that to us again in the form of clipped, coy responses. I know that it’s still relatively early in the run and a certain amount of premise rehashing is expected, but it feels like Falk wants to keep the relationship in neutral because otherwise the series would have some actual stakes.
To be fair, this could just be a problem with “Keys Open Doors,” which separates Jimmy and Gretchen for the majority of the episode and unfortunately highlights that Gretchen alone is more compelling than Jimmy alone. Gretchen’s PR adventures are conceptually tired, but the writing shines when it allows Cash to act opposite new faces. I find it patently ridiculous that Darren Kaplan, the president of the Gay and Lesbian Student Union of Unknown College, would “threaten to go to the Times” instead of just immediately putting Sam’s derogatory comments on the Internet, but the contrivance led to the two best scenes in the episode: Gretchen bitching out Sam and his entourage for talking off the cuff and Gretchen bribing Darren not to release his interview. “Keys Open Doors” functions as a great showcase of Cash’s talents outside the context of Geere; it’s clear that she’s effortlessly witty and biting, and she can carry her own comedic weight.
On the other hand, Jimmy is tied to a stale jealousy plot in which he returns Gretchen’s phone to her and in the process sees a text from Ty (Stephen Schneider). Jimmy returns the phone to her office and eventually meets Sam outside who, like Edgar, reminds him that Gretchen is great and that he likes her. Jimmy gives Sam a key to his house to give to Gretchen and the moment is treated similarly as Gretchen going public with their relationship, but it just doesn’t land. Maybe it’s because Sam’s talk veers a little too closely to Edgar’s talk at the beginning, or maybe it’s because Jimmy’s obstinacy is becoming a little too much bear. Either way, it’s clear Jimmy works best with Gretchen and taking him out of that context doesn’t do him or the series many favors.
“Keys Open Doors” places the series at a crossroads. It could theoretically keep repeating its established structure ad infinitum, or it can actually mix it up and give its characters a little more to do. It can choose not to commit to much of anything, or it can add stakes to their primary relationship. There’s a lot of ways for You’re The Worst to go, and I’m confident that it has enough of the right ingredients to develop into something really interesting down the road. All I can hope for is that it breathes a little more life into its storytelling while maintaining its embittered tone; if it does that, there’s no telling where it can go.
- Apologies for the slight delay. It won’t happen again, I promise.
- Jimmy is also reaching peak dickishness for me. His rant to Edgar was a little over-the-top for my tastes, and it’s just a little dumb that he freaks out this much because Gretchen wants a key so he can get her laundry from his house.
- Hey, look! More basic cable nudity! Huzzah!
- I am not a fan of the new title sequence. That is all.
- Lindsay gets not one, but two scenes this week! Two!
- In no particular order, Jimmy’s five favorite things: sitting, eating things, shutting stupid people down verbally, bubble baths, and masturbation.
- Gretchen gets the best-constructed line of the night: “Look, I love my client like the black son I aborted in high school, but maybe you’re right. Banning words is always the misguided byproduct of good social movements, so maybe his career is worth the sacrifice.”
- But Shitstain gets the funniest: He doesn’t like Koreans “because of their manipulative currency devaluation… and they eyes.”
- “Obviously, I thought it was like boring as shit, and clearly you used to jack off to Hemingway in high school, but the prose was good.”—Sam’s review of Jimmy’s book, but it can easily function as his review of my writeup.