'You're the Worst' Season 3 Will Explore Family (and Responsibility)

Creator Stephen Falk talks with THR about what to expect from Jimmy, Gretchen, Lindsay and Edgar in the new season of the FXX comedy.
Byron Cohen/FX
Aya Cash in 'You're the Worst'

FXX's You're the Worst will follow up its critically praised sophomore run with a third season that, after exploring clinical depression, will continue to find comedy in serious issues.

Following Gretchen (Aya Cash) and Jimmy's (Chris Geere) drunken "I love yous" in the season-two finale, the couple will enter therapy to get a better handle on Gretchen's depression. (Enter Orange Is the New Black favorite Samira Wiley as their therapist.)

As for Edgar (Desmin Borges), he's not moving in with girlfriend Dorothy (Collette Wolfe) but the couple are all systems go — and that will prompt a larger exploration of the former soldier's PTSD.

Lindsay (Kether Donohue), meanwhile, will realize quickly that getting Paul back and carrying her ex-husband's child may not be as great as she envisioned after all.

Below, creator and showrunner Stephen Falk talks with THR about what to expect from season three and why comedy has become so willing to take on larger social issues.

What's the theme of season three?

The season is about family. It started with a constant joke in the writers' room about how every fall, every [broadcast] pilot is about, "… and they form an unlikely family." What the f— does that mean? Is that a theme? That's not a theme! At the same time, I'm telling you our theme is family but it's in a way of, "What does family mean?" What does it mean when your relationship partner starts to become your family? What is that line? What denotes that moment? And when you're someone like Jimmy and Gretchen, what does that do to you? What does that feel like? All the characters, in one way or another, are dealing with responsibility but also with that notion of what is family and what is their place in the world in that family? And how family f—s you up.

How will Jimmy and Gretchen explore that?

With Jimmy and Gretchen, the ramifications of having said "I love you" are one thing, but they're just symbolic of the fact that these two people find themselves in a relationship that's even bigger than they would admit they are in — and certainly that they wanted. They never thought they'd get to this point and they didn't want to be at this point — they probably still don't want to be at this point. Gretchen doesn't want to deal with some things that are coming up for Jimmy this season and he didn't want to deal with her depression. It's inconvenient; it sucks. He didn't want to give up any room in his house. These are people who resist and they, for me, stand in for all the ways we resist that kind of stuff. Yet they are doing it. So it's a constant struggle for them of, "We either keep going or it ends."

Gretchen and Jimmy are heading to therapy — with Samira Wiley set to play their therapist. What will therapy look like for these two?

It looks pretty gross and messy. These are two people who aren't that interested in psychology. I don't think Gretchen has really thought about her own psychology ever. Whatever she wants goes in her mouth or body and whatever she isn't happy with anymore is suddenly off of her call sheet. She doesn't even know that her mom is a bad mom until she really starts to think about it. And Jimmy isn't someone who would ever admit that his family has anything to do with who he is, other than as an opposing force and someone he's worked his whole life not to be. Therapy is going to be really messy, watching them both try to navigate the same space at the same time. A big reason we're doing that is because one of the major themes of this show is that no one is a functionary in real life to someone else. No one waits for something bad to happen or to feel something; it just doesn't work like that. It's not reciprocal, like oral sex. Shit just happens at the same time. There's so many times — I don't care how good your relationship is — where "this is my moment and now you're taking it with your shit?"
That is how it works and it's f—ing horrible. It's tough and so often you're just squashing your own needs. Jimmy and Gretchen don't have that ability and that's what's fun to watch: two needy people who are unable to ignore their own needs for someone else.

Speaking of people unable to ignore their own needs for someone else, let's talk about Lindsay and Paul. How much of her pregnancy will we see? What are we seeing here?

We're seeing someone who should no longer be in a relationship try to make it work for all the wrong reasons and in all the wrong ways. But I don't think it's a story "about" something. It's specifically about a person who isn't really a person yet starting to learn to be a person and do so very slowly. We're going to see Lindsay take responsibility for where she finds herself and for what she's done. It's just going to look different than one might think it should or one might have seen on TV. We'll see her work really hard to attempt to get everything she wants and needs, within the confines of her relationship, which is going to be very bad for Paul (Allan McLeod) and fun for viewers. What she does in the season premiere is the tip of the iceberg.

You're leaning in to Edgar's PTSD this season. What kind of responsibility do you feel as you tell his story this season?

A lot of responsibility, almost paralyzing responsibility, but I stop short of actual paralysis because then it would be a story we don't tell and that's worse than if we don't reflect everyone's experience the same way. We would never even try to say we're representing a definitive version of anything — mental illness, PTSD, relationships, anything. We're trying to explore what this specific character goes through with the benefit of research and talking to people and getting firsthand feedback. We spent a lot of time figuring out exactly how to do it and what the right story was. Ultimately, what we went with — very much in keeping with the show and how we did the depression storyline — is what it does to his relationships and his ability to have relationships. We found ways to narratively have fun with it — or to try and render it in an interesting and exciting ways.

In a larger sense, so many comedies are taking on a more serious nature — FX's Atlanta is doing an episode about mental illness; Carmichael Show has taken on Bill Cosby, Black-ish looked at the n-word and so on. Why is comedy, especially in this point in TV history, so willing to explore serious topics while most dramas don't?

There's not a lot of truly humanistic dramas on television right now. Parenthood is gone. Dramas have to be really big and attention grabbing right now, and comedies, therefore, are filling that vacuum of representing small truths of human experience. That, coupled with Peak TV and every basic cable network now doing scripted — the more shows there are, the more creative risks will be taken because they need to separate themselves from the crowd and stand out. And the blurring of genre. Just having shows like Shameless and Orange Is the New Black switching award categories and comedies, whether or not it's' a good thing — and I think it's a bad thing — those things all play into it as well. There's probably a certain amount of dick measuring — "We want our special episode." Which in essence, makes me want to run the other way.

And you're leaning into it in a different way—

We are. In a tidal sense, we were in the first wave with BoJack Horseman. For us, I'm very selfish in terms of not wanting to be restricted in the kinds of stories I can tell. I'm a student of television and a calculated businessman in certain ways, but at the same time I'm not trying to get articles written about the show because of the topics we bring up. Rather, I'm using the creative leverage that the network gives me in order to try new things.

You're the Worst season three is set to return Wednesday, Aug. 31, at 10 p.m. on FXX.