You’re the Worst: “A Right Proper Story”

(Episode 2.10)

TV Reviews
You’re the Worst: “A Right Proper Story”

Much of You’re the Worst’s dynamic second season has belonged to Aya Cash. As Gretchen fell deeper into a well of depression, Cash drove the show forward and did so admirably. It made sense, but Jimmy’s relegation to a supporting role through the first nine episodes was, at times, frustrating. With his girlfriend at her lowest point and his family in town, Jimmy got the opportunity to be front-and-center in “A Right Proper Story.”

Chris Geere did not waste his moment. While he has delivered strong performances in a lesser role throughout the season, seeing him with a significant storyline was a nice change of pace. It was a fun half-hour coming off last week’s experimental entry, thanks to Geere’s ability to make exasperation entertaining. The scenario that brought Jimmy’s family to LA, Gretchen mailing off the punishment letters Jimmy had written himself last week, was unsurprising, but hysterical. It started the episode on the right note, while also revealing that Gretchen’s attempt to trick Jimmy lasted all of a few days.

The Shive-Overlys were not what I’d imagined. We knew that Jimmy’s relationship with his father was terse, but I did not expect his kin to be “Alabama British” as Lindsay delicately put it. They were monstrous. His sisters, save for the heartbreaking Lilly, were one-dimensional brigands that barked their way through the half-hour. Given the show’s time constraint, I’m surprised they opted to give Jimmy a decent-sized family. There wasn’t time to flesh these characters out but, in the end, it did not have a negative effect. They were present to serve a singular purpose, and it worked. Jimmy did have a nice moment with his father near the end of the episode that shed light on their complex relationship. It turned the man, who had been a brutish caricature, into something understandable. What the clan lacked in depth, they made up for by being fitting inspiration for Geere to deliver his best outing of the year. Often Jimmy’s reflection on his childhood can sound like whiny rants, but not so last night. There was legitimate pain, and for once he did not attempt to mask it with snide humor. He let loose, and it was compelling.

The other thread of the evening involved Sam and Lindsay becoming an unlikely musical team. Sam is still deep in his fake feud gone real with Honey Nutz and Shitstain, a story I desperately want more of just so I can see the three together more often. While I loved watching Lindsay interact with Sam, the storyline was undercooked. With all the Shive-Overly happenings, there wasn’t enough time to give a B plot the needed space. Hopefully it’s a primer of things to come, the thought of Lindsay and Sam together is titillating.

It may have felt like a more conventional episode of YTW, but “A Right Proper Story” was still a vessel for the season’s depression theme. Jimmy was in desperate need of a partner during his difficult family visit and, despite numerous attempts, he was unable to get Gretchen to participate in any meaningful way. At this moment, she is nothing more than a shell. In the midst of her struggle, the show has done a wonderful job of keeping Jimmy a likeable character. He has had missteps in dealing with her sudden depression, but most have been the result of genuine empathy peppered with naiveté, rather than dickishness. When, after his family departed, Jimmy found himself having a drink with Nina, the bartender introduced in “Spooky Sunday Funday,” I didn’t hate him for it. I understood his frustration with Gretchen, and I also understand Gretchen’s hopelessness.

It’s a creative feat, to toe the line the way Stephen Falk and his team has this year. So often, when venturing into serious territory, shows allow one character to become shallow and appalling, whether it fit their nature or not. You’re the Worst has not allowed that to happen with Gretchen and Jimmy in Season Two. They are equals in their situation, and we, the viewers, are better for it. Season Two has thrown us a curveball, challenged our notion of what kind of show You’re the Worst is. If you were to ask me that question a year ago, I would have had a simple answer. Today, the response is less straightforward.

So, what kind of show is You’re the Worst?
?A very good one.

Eric Walters is the Assistant Tech Editor for Paste and a regular contributor to the TV section. For more of his musings on television, follow him on Twitter.

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