With its final season, You’re The Worst has to finally answer one major question: How do you end an oft-described “anti-rom-com” without either bumming out (and possibly disappointing) every single viewer or having an unrealistic, saccharine (traditional romcom) ending that ultimately ends up betraying everything the show’s supposed to be? Without spoiling too much, I can say confidently that showrunner Stephen Falk has the answer to that question and executes it about as perfectly as one can in a show so regularly about people’s imperfections.
You’re The Worst is a love story about two people who seemingly don’t deserve a love story, let alone a “happy ending,” and with that in mind, Falk and the writers of You’re The Worst have been tasked with explaining whether that’s true or not. Because in all the talk of You’re The Worst being an anti-rom-com, that also comes with arguments about whether the show’s definitively saying that its romantic leads, Jimmy Shive-Overly (Chris Geere) and Gretchen Cutler (Aya Cash), do not and should not end up together. After all, all the red flags and warning signs are there, even when Jimmy and Gretchen clearly decide to steamroll right through them, all in the name of love — or possibly, just to prove a point that not even they’re sure of.
Plenty of series that told far more traditionally romcom stories have ended up putt1ing the two romantic leads together despite actively doing even more so than You’re The Worst ever has to show why said characters should never be together. Scrubs did this with J.D. and Elliot and How I Met Your Mother did this with Ted and Robin, because ultimately, those shows also couldn’t accept the change involved in continuing to say that these romances just wouldn’t work. But as much of a mess as Jimmy and Gretchen are — both as individuals, and together — You’re The Worst never quite argues that they’re a pair that should never be together, even if plenty of other characters do. Instead, if anything, it’s screaming at how much them being together makes sense — but could also very easily lead to them scorching them the entire earth in the process.
The final season of You’re The Worst is all leading up to Jimmy and Gretchen’s wedding — as ill-advised as it may be — and even before the season sets in, it’s of course still a question of if they will even tie the knot and actually end up together when all is said and done. After all, the series’ theme song remains unchanged, and with every passing season, it’s come across more as a promise or a guarantee on the show’s part, not just a cute affectation to go along with that whole anti-romcom thing. And also unchanged, to what could, of course, be a disastrous degree, are Jimmy and Gretchen, in a way. They’ve both actually changed tremendously since the first season — even though they’re still both able to vie for the title of the worst — but with this final season, the series has them planning to make the ultimate change, only for Jimmy to constantly go on about how he refuses to ever actually change as a person and Gretchen to be unable to promise that she can say the same thing.
In fact, a quarter of a way through the season, You’re The Worst begins interspersing scenes from the future of Jimmy, Gretchen, and the rest, telling a story that won’t be fully pieced together until the very end. These scenes certainly show the existence of change — for better or worse — for these characters, as we continue to witness Jimmy and Gretchen specifically struggle with that in the present. In fact, at one point during the season, upon realizing they do want different things in their future and really haven’t talked about that, Jimmy calls Gretchen’s beliefs — which she herself says could change with time and already have — “whims.” Jimmy’s belief that being unflappable and never changing is the better option is definitely a myopic approach to things, especially as it ignores just how much he’s had to change to even get to the point of proposing to Gretchen (twice). In fact, this season ultimately pokes fun at how much he changed, as he tries to prove he’s “still” a “bad boy.”
In a final season all about change, among other things, the season premiere (“The Intransigence of Love,” a title which immediately spits in the face of change) works with that idea immediately, as possibly the most ambitious episode of You’re The Worst ever. Like season two’s “LCD Soundsystem” — an episode all about losing your edge post-nuptials — it takes the idea of focusing an impressively long time on characters the audience has no attachment to or knowledge of before introducing any character we do know even a step further. Instead of grounding things in reality as the former episode does, “The Intransigence of Love” is so very clearly a big send-up to the traditional rom-com genre that no one could mistake it for reality, even before it gets super surreal.