7:30pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'You're the Worst' Stars on Finding Humor in Death and Taking Responsibility in Season 3
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday's "Bad News: Dude's Dead" episode of FXX's You're the Worst.]
The proverbial cat is out of the bag.
During Wednesday's You're the Worst, Gretchen (Aya Cash) finally told Jimmy (Chris Geere) that his father had passed away. While not something a typical person would refrain from doing, the move was a big step for Gretchen in a season that has her exploring responsibility, and has Jimmy struggling with love and family.
Wednesday's installment of the FXX comedy from creator Stephen Falk found Gretchen attempting to have Edgar (Desmin Borges) — or pretty much anyone else — tell Jimmy that his father died. Of course, the plan backfires and Gretchen is tasked with doing it after possibly the worst (yet amazingly funny) party ever.
THR caught up with Cash and Geere to break down Gretchen and Jimmy's season three journey so far in a run that has seen the couple declare their love for one another and struggle with responsibility.
The early theme this season seems to be about everybody taking responsibility. How are we seeing them toy with that idea?
Geere: The word love conjures up a whole lot of fear because it's that next stage of the relationship. And, as with Gretchen's washing of the legs revelation — or the lack thereof! — Jimmy realizes he doesn't know a lot about her. So this season is about discovering each other, but more importantly discovering stuff about yourself and stuff that maybe you don't like. There's a lot of reevaluating going on this year. Are you really happy in your job? Are you really happy in your relationship? Are you really happy with where you live? Are you happy with your friends? And there comes a point — they call it a midlife crisis — where anything can spur that on. Where is that going to put the relationship? Because now you've said "love," so you have to stick with them through all of that. And these people don't want to do that so it's challenging.
Jimmy and Gretchen really don't do anything the way "normal" couples do.
Geere: They don't like normal people. That's their worst fear: to become like a normal person or the "sweater people" from season two. But life gets in the way of what we want to do with our life. So we realize Jimmy is going to have to grow up here and have to become a little bit normal, and they don't like that.
And for Gretchen, "normal" is like a bad word.
Cash: Yes! But at different points in your life different things work for you. There are certain techniques that help you survive certain things that are then not useful techniques anymore, and then you have to learn new techniques. Gretchen is taking responsibility by going to therapy and trying to learn more about herself. And, of course, she's hitting a lot of surface-level stuff and learning a lot of pop psychology, and she's imparting that to her friends or just deciding this is how she's going to figure it out. But she's trying this season. And I think that's a lot.
After last season's exploration of clinical depression, you talked about how difficult it was to leave that storyline at work. How will Gretchen take this quest for responsibility deeper this season?
Cash: The truth is that Gretchen is on an upswing this season. She's on medication, she's in therapy, and she's working very hard. And she's also popped out of the lowest of the low of depression. Sarah Silverman describes it like she steps off a bus and it smacks her in the face and that's how it can come and go. So Gretchen is on an upswing. She's doing better, and I think there's some rebalancing of the relationship after being in that low low. So she's like now having to take responsibility for Jimmy having some issues and completely resisting that and not wanting a "sad boyfriend." It's strange sometimes to go from last season to this season where things are very different for Gretchen. But that's how life is, and things get balanced out. Jimmy's having a hard time now, and she's got to step up in some way.
Jimmy can be somewhat like a robot when it comes to his feelings. How will he respond to news of his father's death?
Geere: Absolutely. More than anything in his life — more than finding love, finding a nice house, being rich — Jimmy wants success. He's desperate for success, and this book puts him in a position where it could get there. And then the rug's pulled out from under him. So with this news comes 20 different emotions. It's great. I've been able to go around all the houses in terms of resentment, distraction, and all that.
Cash: But I love your guesses.
Geere: You love my guesses?
Cash: He comes around the trailer and we talk about what we think might happen in episodes we haven't read yet, and he comes up with these hilarious, amazing guesses. One of which is that Jimmy is going to find God.
Geere: He's going to find God! (Said in character) "Gretchen, I've realized the Lord is the answer." (Both laughing.)
Cash: Then we start to think that maybe Jimmy does find God, and then we read the next episode and nope!
As Stephen has said, Jimmy's experience is a universal one — the loss of a parent — but these characters never respond to anything in a typical fashion. How will Jimmy respond? Will he shut down?
Geere: Jimmy's desperate to find closure, so he will do anything with Gretchen's help to try to get there, but when it doesn't work it becomes infuriating. You try different other things, and they don't work and you start to think that your emotions don't work and why is that? But there comes a point that all four of them — Jimmy, Gretchen, Edgar and Lindsay — individually are like champagne bottles just being shaken every day: The cork comes off at some point. And the others get sprayed.
What's going through Gretchen's mind when she throws a party to trick their friends into telling Jimmy about his dad?
Cash: She has the best of intentions for herself! (Laughs.) It's true! She's like, "I don't want to be the bearer of bad news and have a sad boyfriend, so who can do it?" And he'll be mad at them, and then they'll be upset and they can deal with it, not me. And so if we all do it together, it's diffused.
But then she ends up being the one that tells him.
Cash: Because everyone else bails like pussies!(Laughs.) That's the only option left, and Gretchen is not an evil person. She doesn't want him to discover this in a way that's not with friends, and she cares enough to throw the party.
Going back to the season premiere, Gretchen has no problem saying that she loves Jimmy but he struggles with saying it but his actions really show his love for her. Is that the nature of their relationship?
Geere: She can say it, and he can show it. If they both were showers or sayers I don’t think it would work. But it's lovely seeing Gretchen do the whole "I love you" thing because it gives me so much to work with. Jimmy loves Gretchen way more than she loves him. And he loved her ever since the moment she put that sandwich into her handbag in the pilot. The feeling has always been there, but by saying it he's inviting a whole world of danger he didn't want to be in.
Cash: I agree with the fact that Jimmy loves Gretchen more. They really balance each other, and it is the nature of their relationship. I think they also are going to manage to hurt each other more than they should because of that. I think they match well, but because of their different ways of communicating they both jab accidently.
Geere: Gretchen is honest about the fact that she doesn't wash her legs. And when Jimmy says, "What else don't I know?" from that episode onward we start telling each other what we really think about everything. Some of those things are really hurtful, and some of those things are really unnecessary.
Cash: What do you keep private in a relationship? Everyone has doubts in a relationship. Everyone's attracted to other people in a relationship. What do you tell your partner and what is OK to keep to yourself and deal with yourself? And I think we run into problems with that sharing.
Geere: Where's the filter? Where do you cross the line?
It's interesting how much comedy is willing to explore more serious subjects — especially with your show and this season with death and last year with clinical depression. Why do you think it's so much easier for comedy to explore this darker subject matter?
Cash: What's the saying? A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. I think you can say really interesting stuff in comedy because it's a sweeter pill to swallow. And comedians have been getting away with stuff forever; this is not a new thing. People are responding to the new television sitcom doing it, but comedy has always walked the line of comedy and drama. And pain is what makes comedians funny. Have you ever met a comedian? They are some dark people. And the things that they talk about, they bring relevance through comedy. They allow you to look at it from a different perspective and see it and laugh at it, and then have empathy because your guard is down. And that's always been true.
Geere: The most comforting emotion at the moment is empathy. And to think that other people are going through the same shit that you're going through and to see that being truthfully portrayed is just nice to know. It's nice to know you're not alone in a world, which is actually pretty terrifying at the moment. You want to see people and go, "OK, they're messed up as well and that's why I love this." That's why I love it when people say they love the show because they find us relatable. Of course, my first reaction is really? But then I'm glad you can find some reality in our awfulness!
You're the Worst airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FXX.