You’re the Worst follows a couple in the early stages of a relationship, when the idea of marriage can make people head for the hills (doubly so for this duo). From Weeds writer Stephen Falk, the show is an anti-relationship comedy that opens at a wedding. That’s about as romantic as it gets. Jimmy (Chris Geere) gets kicked out of a wedding for brutally insulting the bride and runs into Gretchen (Aya Cash), who has just stolen one of the gifts. As the title and the character themselves boast: Jimmy and Gretchen are the worst. So they hook up. It’s a raunchy comedy that delights in the freedom of airing on FX, and establishes that great sex is what originally brings the two together. Both are terrible at relationships — she explicitly says she’s scared; he replies he doesn’t believe in them — and both decide this isn’t going to work. They stick with it anyway — again, great sex! And because no one else will challenge them (or put up with them). Of course they will fall in love, but they don’t know that. Neither is willing to compromise on any aspect of their rotten personality.
It shouldn’t work. The idea of an anti-romantic romantic comedy is good, but You’re the Worst originally seemed like the result of a challenge to create the most unlikable characters on TV. Why would you watch two awful people in a doomed relationship? Those couples are infuriating and sad to hang out with in real life; I don’t want to seek them out on television. But You’re the Worst smartly takes to task bullshit idealized relationships and has a warped sense of humor about the importance of honesty. It’s also a very modern show, a product of its generation, with hit-or-miss jokes about Instagramming food and YouTube child stars (and at one point, Gretchen sarcastically references Terry Richardson’s “very tasteful” photo shoots).
Thanks to Falk’s stealthy writing and Cash and Geere’s effortless chemistry, the two leads become so unappealing that I find them fascinating and can’t look away. They are brutally honest, but in the second episode, you can see quick flashes in their eyes when something has cut a little too deep. It only lasts a second. You’re the Worst is relentless and unflinching about these characters being “the worst,” in a way that is somewhat admirable.
As with Married, people will be frustrated with Jimmy and Gretchen’s refusal to change. That’s understandable (but I urge you to at least watch past the pilot). The biggest problem is the underdeveloped side characters — an uptight housewife and a war veteran who has an off-putting friendship with a kid — who pale in comparison to the leads.
Both comedies are cynical but hilarious, a welcome antidote to the family sitcoms that arrive every fall. They’re at home on the network of Sunny and Louie. With any luck, they’ll follow in those same footsteps, building up unique stories while destroying overdone tropes.