What were you expecting, a happy ending?
From its very first episode, You’re the Worst has had fear of commitment, malignant narcicissm, and a kind of romantic fatalism baked into its DNA. Transplanted British writer Jimmy Shive-Overly (Chris Geere) and publicist Gretchen Cutler (Aya Cash) met at a wedding, rushed into a one-night stand largely on the strength of their contempt for the couple getting married, and as they progress through each traditional step in a relationship (meeting each other’s friends, seeing each other’s apartments, getting keys to said apartments, agreeing not to see other people, meeting each other’s parents, moving in together, etcetera) they invariably look for the exits (let’s try a threesome!), for the flaw in the other person that would give them the excuse they need to call the whole thing off.
Of course, that did not happen for three seasons: Jimmy and Gretchen’s lives increasingly intertwined, with their respective best friends Edgar (Desmin Borges) and Lindsay (Kether Donohue) becoming one big social circle, and after moving in together at the end of season 1, becoming as fiercely codependent on one another as they had been fiercely independent, then facing bigger struggles: Gretchen suffers from clinical depression, which she tends to self-medicate, which tends to push Jimmy away. But by the end of last season, the couple had settled into a groove, with an in-treatment Gretchen encouraging Jimmy to finally write a follow-up to his modestly successful first novel, and both agreeing that though they are both damaged people, there is a pleasing symmetry to the damage, and that they are the best either of them is likely to do. After a romantic tour of a gruesome murder site, Gretchen accepts Jimmy’s proposal of marriage by saying “we can be a real family,” prompting Jimmy to get in his car and leave Gretchen alone. CLIFFHANGER!
This brings us to the new season, which quite sensibly begins with the aftermath of the broken engagement. The two-part season premiere first spends a full half hour catching up with Jimmy, who has run off to a very unexpected place, begun learning some new skills, and shut himself off from his life in Los Angeles. In the second part, we catch up with Gretchen, whose new arrangement is not as surprising: she is living in Lindsay’s apartment (which she has not left in the three months since Jimmy proposed) and taken her self-medication to a whole new level.
By contrast, Lindsay and Edgar are both doing great: Lindsay, having finally shaken her estranged husband off for good, is loving life in her new job as a stylist’s assistant, while Edgar, who finally broke into Hollywood with a job writing for comedian Doug Benson, is living alone in Jimmy’s abandoned (but very nice) house. Even better, they have decided to add Benefits to their friendship, and (in the early going at least) it is a perfect arrangement.
One need not be Nostradamus to guess that this season is going to be about Gretchen and Jimmy gradually coming back together, but based on the three episodes sent to critics, it’s going to be a bumpy ride at best (light spoilers ahead): Jimmy returns from his self-imposed exile eager to explain his disappearance to Gretchen (and to show her his newly-published book), but she is still very angry and bitter and, after a revenge fling with Ty Wyland, she hits it off with Ty’s assistant when he drives her home.
The writing and performances in this fourth season meet the high standard of the previous three, with the four principals turning in typically great work, Cash and Geere in the premiere in particular. This show is not always funny ha-ha — it did nearly a whole season on Gretchen’s struggle with depression, which is not amusing no matter how you do it — but it is nearly always insightful into the state of dating and romance in the modern world.
New episodes of You’re the Worst are available on-demand Thursdays on FXX.