A review of tonight’s You’re the Worst coming up just as soon as I bite into a chess piece…
After last week’s melancholy Gretchen spotlight, You’re the Worst was back in a more traditional mode with “A Bunch of Hornballs.”
Maybe too traditional.
I have a bunch of reasons for not enjoying this episode, but the biggest of those was how unearned and rushed the climax felt. It should be a relief to have Gretchen and Jimmy communicating again, and presented in splitscreen as they often have in various key moments of their relationship, but I was as puzzled as Jimmy as to why it was happening now. The episode laid a bit of groundwork in the forced smile on Gretchen’s face after Boone gets excited about the idea of their relationship becoming more serious. We know how self-destructive Gretchen can be — most of “Not A Great Bet” was about that — so it’s not hugely out of character for her to turn to Jimmy to sabotage things with Boone right when they’re going so well. But given how justifiably furious Gretchen is with Jimmy for how he broke their engagement — not to mention how much more material there seems to be in the idea of her revenge war against him — this feels like much too soon for her to be making a friendly phone call to him, even if things don’t progress much beyond that yet. We’ll see what’s to come, but it played like the writers hitting the panic button right along with Gretchen and retreating to more familiar territory, whether or not it makes sense.
Beyond that, “A Bunch of Hornballs” was frustrating for how often its characters lived up to the show’s title in ways that wound up getting in the way of the comedy rather than enhancing it. This is always a tricky path for the series to walk, and it’s often most successful in sad mode: had Gretchen’s behavior with the high schoolers last week been played for laughs, it would have been unbearable, but the scene was meant to be uncomfortable and make you question why Gretchen is doing any of this to these kids. Most of this episode was pitched for comedy, though, and the nastiness of some of the characters — Becca and Paul in particular — has been pushed so far that I never want to see them on the show again at this point.
Yet as awful as Paul has become in his Richard Spencer wannabe mode, it was also hard to feel sympathetic for Lindsay this week, even when one of her coworkers described her as the worst person he’d ever met, while noting he had toured with Ted Nugent. Lindsay’s behavior at the party wasn’t significantly harsher than she usually is, but the fact that she was feeling so sorry for herself shone a brighter light on it than when she’s out in the world, relatively oblivious to how others respond to her.
Complaining that a show about terrible people features them acting terribly — including Gretchen being in a position to hurt Boone’s daughter in the exact way he tried so hard to guard against — feels like missing the point, but there are degrees of terribleness and its context in which YTW works for me or doesn’t. Nearly all of this one felt unpleasant (including my mental tally of how much the party was going to cost Edgar because he didn’t realize he’d be paying for it, and not his new buddy Max), and the one part that felt more or less on-tone (Jimmy at the erotic book expo) didn’t really have enough room to breathe because the show was busy spending time on Vernon and Becca’s garbage marriage.