Every now and then you’ll see an article titled “The Romantic Comedy Is Dead,” or it’s cousin, “Can So-And-So Save The Romantic Comedy?” (The latter of these often coincides with the so-and-so in question giving the writer access during the lead-up to his or her latest film, which, surprise, is another crappy romantic comedy. Curious, no?) The jumping off point of these articles, and it’s not an unreasonable place to start, is that the whole field is in disarray. Years of Katherine Heigl bounty hunting her way to love or whatever have stretched the genre thinner than, well, the plot of a Katherine Heigl bounty hunter movie. Luckily there is hope on the way, and all it took was a switch to television and a bunch of awful, damaged characters. That’s basically what the first season of FX’s You’re the Worst was. You’re the Worst is a good show.
For the uninitiated: You’re the Worst focuses on the relationship between Jimmy (Chris Geere), a narcissistic British writer with a foot fetish, and Gretchen (Aya Cash), a narcissistic party girl who works as the publicist for an Odd Future-esque rap group, who meet at the wedding of Jimmy’s ex after he has ruined it in spectacular fashion. They each have a trainwreck best friend who provides support, if you want to call it that. Jimmy’s is Edgar, an Iraq war veteran who suffers from PTSD and night terrors and is essentially his live-in nanny. Gretchen’s is Lindsey, a Stepford Wife in training who devolves over the season back into the drug-hoovering, stranger-banging wildass she was back when she was snorting K off of Gretchen’s vagina with Chingy (her words). Everyone is basically an alcoholic, except for Edgar, who is an alcoholic and a heroin addict, as well as easily the sweetest and most redeemable character on the show. Sometimes Jimmy runs around town snooping on people. This is the disguise he wears when he does it. There are not enough hilarious fake mustaches on television. I’ve always said this.
The arc of the first season was that of a traditional rom-com: Jimmy and Gretchen meet, Jimmy and Gretchen get together, dramadramadrama, Jimmy and Gretchen get back together. What made it so great was the way showrunner Stephen Falk (Weeds, Orange Is the New Black) came at it almost sideways, taking a bunch of characters who can barely function in polite society and letting them run amok. You end up liking all of them, even as it becomes clear that having any one of them in your actual life — let alone all four — would lead to guaranteed disaster. It’s kind of like if you made a Kate Hudson movie but populated it with the gang from It’s Always Sunny. Falk touched on this a bit in an interview with The AV Club:
[Y]ou can’t just try to remake When Harry Met Sally. It’s not working anymore. But it’s a genre that’s near and dear to my heart, and I just thought that there’s a freedom in British sitcoms for characters to not always be “broadcast likable,” and thus I thought it would be a nice way to take a show like Mad About You and update it in terms of how young society behaves now and also to bring in some characters that are actually kind of sh*theads at times. It’s a tall order to make people fall in love with people who are kind of dicks, but I thought it would be worth trying, and I think it has been.
The season finale was last night, and while the ratings haven’t exactly been spectacular, I’m really hoping it returns for a second season. It came in a little under the radar, thanks in part to the big names and high hopes attached to its disappointing Thursday night counterpart, Married, as well as a promotional campaign that sort of missed the point, but it picked up steam as the season progressed. I heard enough chatter about it last week that I finally decided to give it a chance, and I ended up ripping through the first eight episodes in about two days. And last night’s finale was excellent, too, paying off some stuff that had been brewing all season, and setting things up to hit the ground running if it gets picked up, and closing with a terrific Kate Bush karaoke montage, and introducing the phrase “trash juice” to the lexicon, and… look, I repeat: You’re the Worst is a good show.
So here’s your homework: If you watched the show and enjoyed it, spread the word. If you missed the first season, track it down on Hulu or iTunes or something and get caught up, then go back and do that first thing. We’ll meet up here for Season 2, hopefully.