“You’re the Worst” just concluded a terrific season, which went darker than I think anyone would have expected even last year, as the show dealt bluntly with Gretchen’s battles with clinical depression.
My review of the finale is here, and I have a lot of thoughts on the season as a whole from creator Stephen Falk coming up just as soon as I wear my booby shirt…
I want to start off with a question about the biggest and most important story arc of season 2 – which is, of course, the “new phone who dis” running gag. At what point did you realize that was more than just a one-off, and you were just going to keep that as one of the weird through-lines to the season?
Stephen Falk: We make it through our days by coming up with these little things. I do have sort of a lofty idea about the show in that, while we”ll never reach the operatic heights of a “Breaking Bad,” we certainly try to be as rigorously structured as a show like that is. And I think that show was a revelation for me in terms of how if something is going to be introduced, it”s kind of going to have a second act and a third act, even if it”s eight episodes later. And so in terms of trying to build the world and also make the audience feel that they”re in the hands of a writing staff that pays attention to detail, I think those things help and they just make us laugh. We talk a lot about just dumb texting shit and “new phone who dis” was something that someone brought up, and we thought it would be amusing to take it to its logical extreme and then have it dovetail back after just being a dumb song and actually have a sort of a resonance for a key plot line. It”s just a neat way to tell a story, I think.
And at what point did you realize you could have Kether (Donohue) sing it?
Stephen Falk: I don”t remember exactly when that happened. I think that was an episode that was about Jimmy”s family and so we wanted to get Lindsay doing something, and it made sense for her to deal with Sam. And we had never really seen them together much. And she”s a great singer and such a weirdo, so we thought they”d be fun together.
Was the depression arc something that was even in your head as you were doing season 1? If I went back and I binged those episodes, would I be seeing signs of it, or was it more you decided on it afterwards and went back and looked to make sure that there was nothing that flew in the face of it?
Stephen Falk: It”s probably more the latter. I wish I could say that we literally knew we were going to do a depression arc in season 2, but I”m pretty sure it came up early in season 2 discussions. But as you probably know, the writers room is such a fog of war situation. Like, we really had no idea where things came from. The funny thing is that I”d been a staff writer before, and I was so paranoid wanting to make sure my bosses remember that was my joke, or that I was contributing. At the end of the day, the bosses have no fucking idea who came up with what. It”s not possible to remember. But yeah, it was something that I think we wanted to delve deeper into Gretchen”s psychology that we kind of got an interesting glimpse into last season when her parents came to visit and we saw that she was a big fat liar. And we saw that she had these two lives she was living: the good kid and then obviously the hot mess that she is. And it was also just something that people were talking about more, and once I or someone else brought it out, it just sort of stuck in my mind as something we had to try.