'You're the Worst' Season 3: TV Review

Byron Cohen/FX
Still great.
8/31/2016

After a terrific, ambitious second season, 'You're the Worst' returns to prove the best is still to come.

Series creator and writer Stephen Falk was able to elevate an already excellent sitcom in FXX's You're the Worst to something even better in season two by exploring, with a deft touch, clinical depression. For a show that was mostly known for its raunchy and viciously funny dialogue, it was the kind of success that might have led to the tackling of another big issue in season three, which starts Wednesday night.

But Falk looks to be resisting the temptation to replace depression with, say, cancer or whatnot. As season three unfolds, what Falk has apparently done is something ambitious that also feels right in line with a natural progression for You're the Worst: He's kept a finger on the depression issue (to abandon it completely wouldn't ring true and would undermine last season's triumphs), while branching out into the similarly rich veins of family, personal responsibility (one can't always be awful or selfish) and what it means to be self-aware in love.

The importance of that last bit can't be overstated because it just might bear the most comedic fruit. Falk first set up You're the Worst with Jimmy (Chris Geere) and Gretchen (Aya Cash) being the embodiment of two wildly independent people who recoiled at the vaguest notion of love and affection — they were dead inside and wore their black hearts and searing sentiments about relationships with pride.

Tearing down walls was a crucial theme in the first season and things cleverly built to an accidental recognition that okay, fine, Jimmy and Gretchen didn't hate each other and they might just like each other less as a couple than a dangerous duo. Season two saw them grow — in fact, everyone in the series did and both Cash and Geere delivered wonderful performances. Season two ended with what felt like long-delayed gratification — both Jimmy and Gretchen telling each other "I love you" and it didn't, even for a second, seem unrealistic or saccharine. It was well earned and put season three in a position to tackle not just one disarmingly difficult topic but a number if needed.

And that last one — the "what now?" of two people saying something they've refused to say out of fear, past experience, worry and, yes, probably stunted emotional growth — now leaves You're the Worst and Gretchen and Jimmy able to very smartly tackle love in the age of cynicism.

Of course, the series also has two other intriguing and ongoing stories (which is saying something given how much room Gretchen's story needed and how riveting Cash's performance was); you'd be forgiven for forgetting that growth happened elsewhere.

Edgar (Desmin Borges) is forging something with girlfriend Dorothy (Collette Wolfe) that continues his character development and hints that Falk isn't done exploring PTSD. Borges' sweet portrayal of Edgar makes this a development that could get very interesting and emotional moving forward. Lindsay (Kether Donohue) and her pregnancy and dubious regrouping with ex Paul (Allan McLeod) might provide most of the comedy, while Edgar's issues are addressed and Gretchen's depression is further explored (this time with the help of a therapist played by Samira Wiley from Orange Is the New Black).

But what might trump all of that — and offer laughs, awfulness and, yes, enlightenment — is how Jimmy and Gretchen continue their growth and realize that neither of them is really the worst and maybe a little emotional honesty and tenderness isn't a condition that kills. Saying "I love you" isn't the end-all, nor is it the end. Exploring what it means to grow as a couple of individuals who previously would have chosen to kill themselves (or each other) rather than say those words will be intriguing and entertaining in Falk's hands.

The other stuff might get all the glory — as the depression angle so deservedly did. But don't underestimate the potential of examining what it means to be a couple too jaded to be sitcom-swoony but not too lost to give that love a chance. Something smart, not gooey, might come out of that on this fearless series.

Besides, Falk proves right out of the gate in season three that You're the Worst looks as creatively dangerous as ever.

Cast: Aya Cash, Chris Geere, Desmin Borges, Kether Donohue
Created by: Stephen Falk
Airs: Wednesdays, 10 p.m. ET/PT (FXX)
  

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