Nov 18, 2016

TV Retrospective: "You're the Worst" - Season 3

Scene from You're the Worst
Over the past three seasons, You’re the Worst has done an effective job of mixing comedy, romantic comedy satire, and explorations of depression. Considering that the show’s early stretch was often brash and confrontational, its development into one of TV’s funniest and bleakest comedies has been quite the surprise. As it ends its third season, it continues to explore these themes as they relate more closely to adulthood. Jimmy (Chris Geere) is dealing with the loss of his father. Gretchen (Aya Cash) is attending therapy. The show may be making leaps and bounds towards maturity, but don’t expect things to change. They’re still the worst kind of people.

One of creator Stephen Falk’s greatest achievements is managing to make this central cast more than an obnoxious band of antagonists. While they still behave in off-putting manners, there’s still a heart to them. There’s a vulnerability that continues to be explored in profound fashion. It may be tough to find in between the sometimes crass humor and incessant harmonica playing, but it’s there. Falk has managed to find a balance for every character that is in some ways more human than several seasons of dramas attempting to mature and complicate their central cast. 
It does help that the landscape of You’re the Worst is stuck in a high art version of Los Angeles cinema. In the season’s best episode, war veteran Edgar (Desmin Borges) spends a day trying to get his medical information straightened out. When things don’t go his way, he ruminates on the side of a freeway. The melancholy blends into a dreamlike landscape that ends with a gorgeous and misleading shot of him finding connection in the world by raising his arms off of a moving car and doing a Titanic-like pose. What actually has happened was that he’s found a purpose thanks to a random veteran towing his car, of which he’s still sitting in.
This profound moment was followed by the character reinvention that involved becoming a pot comic, even temporarily working for Doug Benson. What started as a life epiphany turned into a new form of isolation. It’s the type of concepts that met every character this season. Jimmy gets writer’s block when he discovers that he mostly wrote to spite his now dead father. Gretchen has to let go of being like her over-demanding mother. Lindsay (Kether Donohue) has the most eventful and cathartic arc of the season as she cucks her husband, aborts a child, and ends up in a nasty lawsuit where she is told to “grow up.”
The show manages to do this while being an artful experience. Among the highlights is a wedding episode where each segment is shot in a single take. Along with the excellent choreography that makes the episode’s five central stories blend together flawlessly, it is the one where everyone’s deeper psyche comes out. There’s petty jealousies and worries that can be read in everyone’s tones. The moments build, sometimes starting over mundane conflicts like getting drinks. The series builds beautifully to each climax, setting the final stretch in motion and ending on a scene where Gretchen and Jimmy get married, but still wind up separated.
The series has always been great at balancing melancholy and rich comedy. This season may have leaned more heavily on the former, but the results have produced yet another effective season. The stories are as sharp as ever, if at times seeming more deranged due to the dark subject matter. Most of all, it creates the quintessential modern day look into Los Angeles culture that is at times vapid, illogical, but deeply longing for acceptance. As the show branches out and tries to give each character a permanent development, it manages to escape the trap of other series like Girls; or shows that do little to evolve their characters. It may be difficult to see this show getting any happier, but at least the writing remains superb. Even if this becomes more of a half hour drama, it will happily do it with some of the boldest and most exciting looks into depression that this decade of TV has brought. If nothing else, we’ll always have Dr. Weed.

OVERALL RATING: 4.5 out of 5

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