Why 'You're the Worst' Depicted a Different Side of Abortion

Series creator-showrunner Stephen Falk and star Kether Donohue talk with THR about Wednesday's episode.
Byron Cohen/FX
Donohue and Cash on 'You're the Worst.'

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the "Talking to Me, Talking to Me" episode of FXX's You're the Worst.]

FXX's You're the Worst just featured the most matter-of-fact TV abortion.

Wednesday's episode opened with Lindsay (Kether Donohue) and BFF Gretchen (Aya Cash) having a very casual lunch — until Lindsay reveals that she's "eating for two for the last time."

That the irresponsible and comically insane Lindsay would opt to abort her "turkey baster" baby is not a surprise given that the character artificially inseminated herself with a turkey baster with sperm she kept in a frozen condom from on-again/off-again husband Paul (Allan McLeod). Yes, the pregnancy was done in a bid to manipulate him into coming back and taking care of her. And yes, Lindsay loves being loved but as it turns out, the idea of family — at least with Paul — wasn't something she really wanted.

In a moment of pause before going through with her "a-bo-bo," Gretchen saves Lindsay from what she thought was a pro-life protester. But as it turns out, said pro-lifer was going to suggest that Lindsay go through with the abortion. (Key for Lindsay moving ahead with it was Gretchen reminding her that her friends are her family, so she'll never be alone.)

"We're treating it very matter-a-fact," series creator and showrunner Stephen Falk tells THR. "Lindsay encounters an abortion protester but just thinks she's a nice lady who wants to give her advice, and Gretchen sees this and runs over and is like, 'No, terrorist, you're not going to stop us from using our women's rights.' And the woman just says, 'You know, in certain cases I think this is acceptable, and this is one of them.' And then she just has the abortion, and then that's it."  

Lindsay's abortion is almost an afterthought in the episode, which largely focuses on Jimmy's (Chris Geere) attempts to build a treehouse to rid himself of his father; Gretchen working on being more mindful; and Edgar (Desmin Borges) getting a job as a TV writer, much to his girlfriend's chagrin. Even the buildup to Lindsay's "a-bo-bo" is done as if she was running an errand — "Be out in 40 to 45 minutes," she tells Gretchen.

"It's legal and it's not to say that abortion is something that doesn't have ramifications emotionally for the people involved," Falk says. "But sometimes it doesn't, and we're trying to show that side."

Donohue, for her part, sees the abortion storyline as progress for Lindsay. "Lindsay's journey is toward her authentic self. And to get an abortion, she's finally being responsible," Donohue tells THR. "She's admitting the jig [with Paul] is up. She's finally admitting to herself, and then showing through action, that she doesn't want a baby. She's not ready or equipped in any way, shape or form to have a baby. And she's finally doing something for herself. She's owning her right to choose with everything in her life now. It symbolizes the turning point where she's doing something that is genuine and right for her and not to please anybody else. When I read that, it felt very powerful."

You're the Worst's approach to abortion comes as other small-screen series — largely dramas — have explored the subject in vastly different fashions. This season, The CW's Jane the Virgin had an open dialogue about the subject between a Catholic mother and her pregnant daughter that ended when they agreed to disagree.

Shonda Rhimes' ABC drama Scandal explored the topic in a Christmas episode nearly a year ago when star Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope had an abortion during an episode that featured first lady turned senator Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) successfully filibustering a bill that would all but defund Planned Parenthood in a ripped-from-the-headlines-inspired story. Rhimes previously explored abortion in season four on Scandal when a female Navy officer was raped. Grey's Anatomy also took on the subject when Sandra Oh's Cristina Yang had an abortion in season eight because she and then-husband Owen (Kevin McKidd) did not agree on having children.

Ahead of You're the Worst's third season, Falk noted that Lindsay's journey will be about taking responsibility for herself and what she's done. "It's just going to look different than one might think it should or one might have seen on TV," he told THR in August.

Donohue, meanwhile, called the storyline on You're the Worst "progressive" and praised Falk and the show's writers for portraying a different side of the abortion dialogue.

"A lot of people feel this pressure to fit into a conventional family. All of Lindsay's actions were being motivated by the status quo and what's conventional: having a wealthy husband, nice car, nice house with a picket fence. That was her idea of family," Donohue says of Lindsay's pre-abortion pause. "When Gretchen tells Lindsay, 'I know being an adult is hard, but I have your back,' Gretchen encourages her to see it a different way and see it like, 'Hey, I'm your family.' That's powerful."

Abortion becomes the latest serious subject that You're the Worst has explored. The show continues to explore clinical depression with Cash's Gretchen as well as PTSD with Borges' Army veteran Edgar.

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