Who knew a mouse could be such a good metaphor?
This is the episode where stuff gets real. We thought that happened last year, when Gretchen told Jimmy there was only one way out of their relationship: “horrible sadness in pain.” Or maybe when they moved in together by accident. Or maybe we thought it happened last week, when Jimmy followed Gretchen to her crying spot.
But, no. This is the episode where Gretchen reveals she has clinical depression, and the build up to her admission is, like many other things on YTW, something we rarely see on TV. The “gang” is forced to spend all day at their house because the Los Angeles marathon makes it impossible for people to get around the city. Jimmy decides to spend the day trying to stalk and kill a mouse, but Gretchen can’t sit still. Early in the day, we see her subtle tells that something’s off. She rips up leaves absentmindedly, boozes hard, and dances without music. It’s only when Lindsay arrives does she seem to feel a sense of relief.
Until a few too Bloody Marys and beers sends her into panic mode. She rips everyone around her to shreds — calling Lindsay, Jimmy, Edgar, Dorothy, and even Vernon out on all their flaws — and retreats to her room, where Lindsay shows her true colors as a really, really good friend. (Who knew?) “It’s back, isn’t it?” Lindsay asks. Gretchen nods. “It’s gonna be like sophomore year when you wore the same Hoobastank T-shirt three weeks in a row and only ate Special K Red Berries. Are you gonna tell Jimmy?”
“No. I can’t tell him my brain is broken,” Gretchen responds.
And then, Lindsay delivers some of the truest lines of the season so far: “Gretchen, you have never been this much your disgusting self around anyone. I would have killed to let Paul in on my gross secrets… Don’t start keeping secrets now. Wear your stains on the outside of your clothes, Gretch. Tell him.”
She does, eventually. “Here’s an interesting thing about me,” she says when he asks her, genuinely, what’s been going on with her. “I am clinically depressed. It’s been going on my whole life, so I’m really good at handling it. It strikes whenever and I have no idea why, but it’s fine. I’m so sorry I never told you.”
Jimmy then asks what he can do and she says she just doesn’t want him to make a big deal out of it.
”Be okay with how I am and the fact that you can’t fix me.”
“Can’t I, though?” he jokes.
They hug, and just as the camera pans to Jimmy’s face, a mouse runs by. The mouse problem — and Gretchen — are not things to be “fixed.”
Depression isn’t usually spelled out on TV, at least not without an after-school special vibe. In a review of Bojack Horseman season 2, Flavorwire’s Pilot Viruet spelled it out eloquently: “Depression is usually depicted as men drinking too much (but never, ever talking about those less-than-manly feelings), or women hysterically crying in psychiatric wards, with loads of overly dramatic scenes of pills being flushed down the toilet and the subsequent going-off-the-rails montage.”
Even the word “depression” is rarely said with a clinical, medical sense, which is why Gretchen’s statement is so pleasantly jarring for TV obsessives. Seeing how the YTW team writes the rest of the season will be fascinating. Will narcissistic Jimmy handle Gretchen like she’s fragile glass or will he brush the whole thing under the rug?
Until then, the (truncated) Worstie rankings:
4. Nope, not the worst. Far from it! In fact… least worst: Edgar
Edgar’s wooing Dorothy — a.k.a. rando, a.k.a. theater bitch — and it’s working. When they wake up with nowhere to go, she’s down to hang with the worst people in Los Angeles and makes an effort to get to know Edgar’s mean, awful friends. Also she introduces us to her Avocadon’t Vine series, which sound better than half the stuff out there. Bonus points go to Edgar for his response to Lindsay’s claim she misses hanging out with him. “You should hang out with me and Dorothy sometime.” Well played, nice guy Edgar.
3. Eh, not great, but could be worse: Jimmy
Jimmy’s preoccupied with killing all the mice, and is actually pretty sweet to Gretchen while she drinks every drink in the house. He knows something’s off, but doesn’t know how to deal with it. And when she calls him every awful name you can call a writer, he lets the insults roll right on by, and genuinely seems more concerned with her well-being.
2. Oof. It gets worse: Gretchen
Girl can throw a verbal punch, no matter how she’s feeling. “This place is an emotional black hole,” she says. Though, at this point we have to disagree.
1. Absolute, hands-down, no-questions-asked worst: Lindsay
Lindsay lands as the worst on this list by default. (They’re all good this week; they are!) She’s ruh-ude as hell to Dorothy, says Edgar is her “backup side bitch,” and leaves her car in the middle of the freeway. You’re the worst Lindsay, though really you’re the best.