You’re the Worst: Rock Bottom

(Episode 4.09)

TV Reviews You're the Worst
You’re the Worst: Rock Bottom

When I finished watching “Worldstar!” I texted assistant TV editor (and fellow You’re the Worst fan) Amy Amatangelo to vent my frustration. The following is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation, printed here with Amy’s permission, on one condition: “As long as you mention that Kether [Donohue] is amazing and I still want to be her when I grow up.”

Matt: The season has become a chore. I liked the premiere and Gretchen’s trip home, but otherwise I’m starting to feel like I could skip it altogether.
Amy: Agreed. It’s becoming a show that doesn’t need to be explored every week. I didn’t like that Gretchen [Aya Cash] almost committed assault on an underage teen on her trip home, either. I’m over her being damaged and not evolving at all.
Matt: That’s basically what I wrote last week: I’m bored with the stasis. I find myself putting off these reviews later and later each week.
Amy: It makes so little sense at this point, and Gretchen’s so awful it’s hard to watch.
Matt: Agreed. And Jimmy [Chris Geere] is an afterthought. And they did nothing with that Edgar [Desmin Borges]/Lindsay [Donohue] role reversal you wrote about at the start of the season.
Amy: I don’t get not doing anything with Lindsay and Edgar.
Matt: Me neither. The writing just seems lost.

If “Worldstar!” fails to address these problems, it does point to the series’ potential to do so: “Bec, the only way our lives are going to get fixed is if we fix them ourselves,” Lindsay advises her sister near episode’s end, shifting the blame for not being a “real person” from that “backstabbing suck-butt” (Janet Varney) to their neglectful, narcissistic, coolly withholding mother (Robin Riker). One can only hope this is a lesson You’re the Worst takes to heart: Tonight, as the characters hit their respective rock bottoms, the series hits its own.

The post-party phone call between Gretchen and Jimmy has not, for instance, done much to repair the relationship: She’s still hung up on Boone and his daughter, or at least on keeping that option open; finding out about this from Edgar and his blisteringly uninteresting friend, Max (Johnny Pemberton), Jimmy proceeds to invite over a woman from his English youth and condescend to her, only to find the tables turned when she brings up Ye Olde “Shitty Jimmy.” Gretchen subsequently finds Jimmy fucking the Brit, and watches through the glass door, touching herself. “Seriously,” she says, “what is wrong with me?”

I’d pose the same question to You’re the Worst, but I already made the case, after “A Bunch of Hornballs,” that the series is spinning its wheels as surely as its characters. “Worldstar!” is simply further confirmation. I no longer give a single fuck whether Jimmy and Gretchen get back together or not. I just want their dreadful dance to end.

One might argue that the series reflects the characters’ emotional states: It’s begun to ape Gretchen’s urge, for instance, to “let the universe decide for me, that way nothing’s ever my fault.” But this isn’t how TV works—it’s a medium that demands choice after choice after choice after choice—and You’re the Worst has apparently abandoned the careful decision-making that made Gretchen’s depression such a brilliant long con. Boone and his daughter? Sure! Toss a camping trip with them in the mix. An entertainment lawyer with a taste for Japanese whiskey? Sure, a dash of that won’t hurt. Lindsay and Becca’s mother? A sprinkle will do. A fellow veteran from Edgar’s days in Iraq, one he humiliates in front of that shitknuckle with the mustache just to be cruel? Spread it like chimichurri on tonight’s charred-to-shoe-leather You’re the Worst. Hopefully something sticks.

In this context, Lindsay and Becca’s titty-twisting argument, their discovery that Vernon (Todd Robert Anderson) masturbates to clips of their mother, and Becca’s subsequent crying jag (This season on You’re the Worst: Everyone has a complete fucking meltdown!) seem unearned, to say the least. This isn’t prickly, or genre-bending, or anti-romantic, or even particularly funny; it’s lazy juvenilia masquerading as insight, masturbating to disaster until carpal tunnel sets in.

The one piece of dialogue in “Worldstar!” that made me chuckle is simultaneously so self-aware (intentionally or not) that it also made me cringe. “Does anyone actually find that endearing?” Jimmy snipes at Max after his strange vocalization. “I cannot imagine so, no,” Max replies. It’s the only smart thing he’s ever said. None of this is endearing in the least. I hope tonight’s episode really is You’re the Worst’s rock bottom: The only place to go from here is up.

Matt Brennan is the TV editor of Paste Magazine. He tweets about what he’s watching @thefilmgoer.

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