Don’t believe the cynical lovers at the heart of FXX’s ironic rom-com You’re the Worst. They may rage against the alleged bogusness of transcendent romance and soul death of conventional coupling, but they want it just as bad as a dog in heat craves a leg. Jimmy (Chris Geere) is a bitter British novelist. Gretchen (Aya Cash) is a jaded Hollywood publicist. They’re noxious and nihilistic and we should hate them, but we don’t, because Geere and Cash are terrifically hilarious and human in their roles and have bonkers chemistry, and because each episode bends Jimmy and Gretchen toward some positive change, however small. You’re the Worst keeps you laughing at its post-everything millennials with sensationally salty humor and keeps you hooked with a belief in old-fashioned redemption.
The first season found its comedy in watching Jimmy and Gretchen fail by degrees (and then completely) at keeping things between them totally meaningless. In season 2, Jimmy and Gretchen, now living together, struggle to prevent their don’t-call-it-a-relationship relationship from lapsing into banality or compromising their individuality. Or, in the words of Gretchen’s dim-bulb, divorce-bound pal, Lindsay (Kether Donohue): “There comes a day when every relationship turns gross, old, and boring, like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Gar-den-er. Don’t puss out early. Keep it awesome for as long as you can.”
The premiere flows with tart language, inspired references, and bawdy antics as Jimmy and Gretchen chase that mandate. The premise effectively reintroduces the characters (season 2 is newbie-friendly) but also flirts with self-awareness about the challenge now facing the show. How to ply the audience with the radical ribaldry they expect even as Jimmy and Gretchen grow beyond it? But then, how long before we get burned out on so much hideousness, too?
An uneven second ep gives some reasons to doubt the vision. A story about Jimmy inching toward self-sacrifice and Gretchen bumbling toward self-respect expresses itself through a tired scenario—a trip to the mall—and yields lackluster results. There’s more to do for Lindsay, now badly behaving toward a new identity herself. But the amplified idiocy subverts the character, as does her increasingly ridiculous abuse of food. The other resident sidekick, Jimmy’s pal Edgar (Desmin Borges), a war vet wise in the ways of the heart, seems intent on saving Lindsay from herself, because he’s a rescuer and he’s smitten with her, though she doesn’t see it. I suspect Edgar’s story, like with all the characters, is about breaking from patterns and roles that trap and demean him. But the sooner he moves beyond the pining boy-Friday cliché he represents, the better. You’re the Worst remains an irreverent yet surprisingly poignant riot, but season 2 has some adjustments to make to be the best it can be. B