When the last season of You’re the Worst came to a close, it seemed like our main characters were taking a step towards growing up, whether they wanted to or not. After Gretchen (Aya Cash) admitted that she couldn’t rely on Jimmy (Chris Geere) to fix her depression and that she would start pursuing other methods — any methods, rather — of treatment, she and an extremely drunk Jimmy dropped the L-bomb. For an “anti-romcom,” it was a surprisingly romantic moment, and left viewers wondering where these barely functional miscreants would be heading into the third season. Two other couples were also left in a state of flux: Lindsay (Kether Donohue) and Paul (Allan McLeod) got back together in the wake of her insemination, and Edgar (Desmin Borges) and Dorothy (Collette Wolfe) decided that moving in together so soon would be a mistake.
Luckily, this season picks up shortly after the other left off, and it is soon clear in “Try Real Hard” that the difficult stuff isn’t over. Gretchen and Jimmy keep trying to psych each other out of saying “I love you” again, leading Jimmy to realize that there is a lot that he doesn’t know about Gretchen and for Gretchen to wonder if his feelings were genuine at all. On the other side of the spectrum, Lindsay knows exactly how genuine Paul’s feelings for her and their growing family are, but her rash decision to inseminate herself with his sperm sample is having realer and realer consequences by the day. Should the woman who was avoiding responsibility, partying heavily, and doing copious amounts of drugs a few episodes ago rush into being a mother? Probably not, but that’s where she’s headed.
And then there’s Edgar. If last season dealt realistically with clinical depression, it appears that this will be the season of Edgar’s PTSD. His friendship with Jimmy has always been an unequal one, with Jimmy taking the fact that he allows Edgar to live in his home as a free pass to treat his “friend” without even a shred of respect. In the premiere, Jimmy’s cruel comments seem a little meaner, a little less funny than they have in the past, and perhaps that is because the PTSD that has lurked on the edges of Edgar’s character are finally making their way to the fore. You’re the Worst has dealt with the treatment of veterans in previous episodes, between the media’s exploitation to get a pat on the back or how difficult it is for many vets to get basic care, but those were just a precursor. As Edgar’s medication leaves him unable to feel emotions fully or perform sexually, he flushes the pills and attempts to live without them, but it’s clear that the pain left by his time in the military isn’t going to go away any time soon.
Part of what makes You’re the Worst so good is the acknowledgement that relationships are hard. The story doesn’t end after the couple shares their first kiss and overcomes the superficial obstacles that made making things official difficult. Each of the core couples have made their commitments to each other, as tenuous as they are, and for better or worse, they’re left to deal with the sh*t that comes with every partnership. While we see Jimmy and Gretchen settle into a new cycle of sex and work and wasting time together, there’s still the specter of Gretchen’s depression and Jimmy’s familial scars. While they may have found some sort of weird solace in each other, their issues will continue until they agree to do the real work. Additionally, the life of a wife and stay-at-home mother may have appealed to Lindsay on a surface level, but the reality of “no more surprises” and cooking subscription box meals with Paul is too much to bear. Lindsay covets the love and stability that Paul provides, but she would prefer that it was there for her after her weekend bender instead of a day to day reality.
However, despite the hard truths, You’re the Worst is, at its heart, a very funny show. Brandon Mychal Smith’s petulant rapper Sam continues to be the secret MVP, and his rage over a mishandled “secret reunion show” is further proof that he is one of the best side characters of recent television memory. While many were left to wonder if the show could even be classified as a comedy after last season’s serious themes (trash juice notwithstanding), this premiere serves as a reminder that it is still very much the show that people fell in love with. It may be growing into a more mature portrayal of bad behavior, but that just means that we have to grow along with it.