Too often this season, the characters were cartoonish exaggerations of their signature qualities: Lindsay is super dumb and horny; Paul (Allan McLeod) is sickly sweet, until Lindsay leaves him and he sours; Jimmy is a pretentious blowhard; Gretchen is a selfish cynic. As a result, so many of the choices the characters made this season, or the ways they reacted to the behavior of others, rang false.
In one episode, Jimmy tells Gretchen he’s reevaluating everything in his life after the death of his father, including her, and begins making a pro-con list in his notebook. The writers treat it as a joke — Gretchen is sitcom-character upset, trying to steal Jimmy’s notebook from his jacket when he’s not around — but the episode highlights a problem with the half-hour comedy/drama hybrid that we’ve seen so much of in the past few years. You can’t treat characters’ mental health gravely one minute, chirpily the next. You can’t spend three seasons focusing on the fragile mental health of your female lead and then convince me she wouldn’t go seriously apeshit over her live-in boyfriend flaunting a pro-con list about her right in front of her face.
The third season tried to do too much, and as a result, it never cohered. There was the extremely un-funny bottle episode featuring the show’s two least interesting characters, Paul and Vernon (Todd Robert Anderson), on a road trip; the wedding episode composed of a series of one-take shots; the episode — the season’s best — told solely from Edgar’s (Desmin Borges) point of view, as he struggles to get help for his PTSD; Lindsay’s cuckolding Paul, and then her abortion; the death of Jimmy’s father; Jimmy’s second novel, excerpts of which we heard throughout the season. So many of these plots were surprisingly predictable: When Jimmy climbs a ladder to build a treehouse, you can bet he’ll get stuck up there; of course Paul and Vernon run out of gas in an area where there’s no cell phone reception.
There were some bright spots, particularly the magnified focus on Edgar and Dorothy (Collette Wolfe), who finally decides to quit her pursuit of becoming an actress and move back to her hometown in Florida — clearing the way, no doubt, for Lindsay and Edgar to hook up next season. But by the end, the show, like Gretchen and Jimmy’s relationship, ran out of steam. It’s a shame it didn’t work out, but there are other fish in the sea.