In a world full of romantic comedies and constant remakes of old fairy tales, FX’s acidly smart You’re the Worst might be the most realistic take on love and the messes that comes with relationships. On Friday night at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, showrunner Stephen Falk and the cast, Aya Cash (Gretchen Cutler), Chris Geere (Jimmy Shive-Overly), Desmin Borges (Edgar Quintero), and Kether Donohue (Lindsay Jillian), got together to talk about one of the best new series of 2014. The dynamic among the group was palpable: they lovingly talked over each other and kept up jokes at a spitfire pace.
With the show, Falk set out to create what he described as a “British-y alcoholic Mad About You,” where the plot is more character-driven. He also spoke about the original idea for fan-favorite “Sunday Funday”: The cameras would follow a good Samaritan doing his selfless deeds around Los Angeles. Our “heroes” would then accidentally run him over and try to cover it up (don’t worry, he wouldn’t have died, only gotten seriously hurt).
The show, which returns on FXX in September with 13 episodes, could have been quite different if it weren’t for the spot-on casting of Cash and Geere. Flavorwire spoke to the two stars about how they got the roles, their approach to acting, and the legendary return of Sunday Funday.
Flavorwire: What is so wonderful about You’re the Worst is its depiction of such a real, authentic relationship. It’s not all picture perfect all the time.
Chris Geere: No relationship is simple. It never has been. I am a huge fan of romantic comedies anyway, but there was a structure to romantic comedies that has become a bit stale now, because it’s not that real. You don’t walk off into the sunset afterwards. Yeah, you might walk off into a sunset, but the next day, it might be shit again. And it’s how you deal with that. What makes a good relationship, what makes true, true love is how you get through the crap, the beginning, the middle, and the end. We’re trying to tell the story of a real couple and a real relationship. It’s not two unlikable people who want to be each other’s partner. They’re struggling with that, even though they don’t particularly struggle with that many other things in their lives. It’s just interesting for people to see a different take on an age-old premise, you know?
Aya Cash: There’s someone for everyone, but these two people would destroy other people — and yet, for each other, yeah it works. [When she was asked about her character’s season finale move-in with Jimmy and Edgar during the panel, Cash answered, “Poor Edgar.”]
How did you get involved with the show?
Cash: I had met Stephen probably a year and a half to two years before the casting of this show for another show. That other show I wasn’t available for, and wouldn’t have been right for anyway, but I just always remembered him as a normal human in this business, and they’re few and far between. When this came up, I read it and was like, “Oh, it’s that guy who I think is so great.” I read it and I was like, “They’ll never let me do this.” I auditioned, and then I auditioned, then I auditioned, and then I auditioned, and then I auditioned. And then I auditioned one more time, and then I got it.
Geere: I was actually very, very close to testing stage on another pilot for Lifetime, weirdly [HR with Alicia Silverstone]. I was throwing everything into that. My head was full, and my manager sent over this script. Instantly, I was like, “Wow, this is great.” But they wanted the character to be American. I read it and my American accent is not up to scratch at the moment. Is there any way I can try it in British? But not because I’m copping out on the accent. I read it out loud and the acerbic quality of Stephen’s writing could also lend itself to the British accent because it doesn’t sound as harsh. It could sound quite funny at the same time so I could try that. Stephen was up for it. Two weeks later I’m testing. And then we tested together, didn’t we?
How did that go?
Geere: It’s a terrifying experience.
Cash: It didn’t go well. I didn’t get cast off that session. I had to retest in New York with Stephen at the Orange Is the New Black offices [where he’s a co-executive producer] in the corner. I had basically made myself a mess by eating a muffin and wore terrible orange lipstick. They just were like, “Why don’t you, like, wear not that and like a normal shirt.” I was in leather. They made me retest, so I don’t think it went that well at first, but then we lucked out. [During the panel, Cash said that FX originally didn’t want her cast, but Falk gave her another chance.]
Geere: I don’t remember her from those tests.
Cash: Those situations are just not conducive to doing good work generally. You’re so anxious.
Geere: It’s an environment that has nothing to do with what it’s like on set. It was terrifying. It’s great that we’re actually here to tell the tales. How lovely is that?
How do you approach the characters now that they’re your characters?
Geere: I have found, this year, I can notice tiny little things that they’re writing for us a little bit more. Certain phrasing of things. The rhythm of Jimmy’s rants. It’s so easy to learn this stuff because it’s so brilliantly written. We’re block shooting at the moment, so we’re block shooting four episodes, and just picking up where we left off.
Cash: Gretchen gets a “hella” in there every once in a while. I just sort of approach everything the same. I like to distract myself until the moment of execution because I find if I pre-plan stuff, I get stiff. I’d rather just look another actor in the eye and see what happens, so it’s just basically about learning —
Geere: [Interrupting] Theater girl.
Cash: Figuring out block shooting is a whole ‘nother preparation, because every day, you may be shooting scenes from Episode 3, 5, 4, 1. You’re jumping around. You need to know where you are. This season, I have what turns out to be a season-long arc of something I can’t tell you about, but I need to know where I am in that arc at every time.
Geere: That’s lovely. We don’t get stale because we don’t go in with a fixed idea on how anything’s going to be because we know each other well enough and respect each other well enough as actors to just leave all that and see what happens. I like the fact that we have so many locations. I learned my dialogue and make sure I understand the rhythm of how the joke is meant and everything like that, but where the comedy comes for me, where I get really excited, is using the environment a little bit more to make it fresh. Apart from the house, which we’re in all the time, we’re always in a different space. That’s one of the benefits of not doing studio stuff.
Just like in “Sunday Funday,” which was amazing.
Cash: Oh, it’s going to be even better this year.
Geere: It has a theme. I’ve looked at the schedule and the way that it’s been scheduled in terms of production quality, it’s like a movie. It’s going to be epic.
Cash: There will be outfits and accidents and debauchery. It’s going to be an amazing episode. So if you liked “Funday” last year, you’re going to love it this year.
Photo by Jack Plunkett