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What does love mean to a group of insanely dysfunctional individuals?
That’s the theme the second season of FX-turned-FXX comedy You’re the Worst is poised to explore when the Stephen Falk comedy returns Sept. 9.
The series, which broke out in its freshman season as one of the year’s most original comedies, centers on Jimmy (Chris Geere) and Gretchen (Aya Cash), two truly terrible individuals who realize that they’re both perfectly awful together. The season ended with Gretchen accidentally burning down her apartment building and forced to prematurely shack up with commitment-phobic Jimmy, adding yet another layer to their dysfunction.
Elsewhere, Edgar (Desmin Borges) realizes he has feelings for Lindsay (Kether Donohue), who hit rock bottom after husband Paul (Allan McLeod) revealed he wanted a divorce.
Jimmy and Gretchen are now living together. Is there a big story that you’re trying to explore with them this season?
The focus of this season is encapsulated in a quote that Paul gives early on — which is the definition of love. He tells Lindsay that love is putting someone else’s needs above your own. To which Lindsay — and all the other characters when they learn of it — respond “Eww.” That’s the theme of this season: Can these two narcissists put someone else’s needs, however briefly and however small increments, above their own? It sounds like a micro-story, but the macro-story is bigger and tangible. The thing that leads them to this kind of advancement, or at least small advancement, is the larger story.
Of the four, only Edgar seems capable of understanding what love really means and actually feeling it.
I think Edgar has the contrary problem: he needs to learn to put his own needs in front of other people’s.
What about Lindsay? What’s her trajectory given Paul wanting a divorce?
It’s really about her being adrift, and finding herself having moored her ship to this idea of being a wife to a banker. Now she’s back at it. Her best friend [Gretchen] is not really available to party in the same way. I think it would have been easy for us to have her backsliding into cockaholism and f—ing a different dude every episode but that would get boring. Instead, she’s very aware that Edgar is into her and uses that to her advantage. But her macro-story is about trying to become a better person, which is hard in the face of having a horrible sister [Becca, played by Janet Varney], who is the worst person on this show called You’re the Worst, and having a best friend who’s now deeply involved in her relationship. She’s really adrift, and in the end she does try to be a good friend, a good sister, a good ex-wife, and it doesn’t necessarily work out.
There’s a scene in season two where Jimmy and Gretchen steal a Google Maps car and punch the driver out. Where do you come up with some of these stories? What’s the writers’ room like when you pitch ideas?
[Laughs] It’s such a fun job. There are four writers and myself, and our script coordinator — who co-wrote an episode this season. The six of us hang out and talk. The four writers are very tuned in and social media savvy. As I often do, I could come in and ask, “I don’t have the time to find out — what did Angelina Jolie say today? I just know she said something.” And they’ll explain what happened. They’re just very keyed-in, tuned-in people and we all just happen to have really similar senses of humor and we fuel each other. We speak as the character, we act things out and we improv. It’s very annoying but we’re talking all the time. We’re going to meet Jimmy’s dad and his whole family and we’re just putting on bad English accents and talking to each other. It’s really kind of a lunatic asylum in there. Each of the four writers correlates with a main character of the show and their personalities have sort of fallen into theirs.
Considering how shameless everyone on this show is, is there anything that you won’t ever do on the show? What’s too far?
We had a much more violent ending to episode three last year when Edgar helps these Sundance assholes do research for a war movie. FX asked me to tone it down a bit. There are certain things, like dealing inherently with PTSD and veteran issues. My radar is also always up around women issues because I’m not a woman and I’m very sensitive to them, and I’m having a baby girl soon. I want to make sure that I’m writing characters that have a healthy view of sexuality, who aren’t ashamed of their sexuality and aren’t afraid to eat. It’s nerve-racking for me writing other races, so I’m always trying to make sure that I’m making everybody, no matter who I write, a three-dimensional, fleshed out person rather than a caricature.
What’s Jimmy’s family like?
Oh, it’s horrible. His family is so mean to him. They’re trash. As Lindsay says, “I thought all English people were fancy, but these are like Alabama English people.” Jimmy calls his family thieves, soccer hooligans and psychotics with lead aggression because he comes from a lead mining town. They’re all horrible.
What do they think of Gretchen?
They don’t care. They’re just there. Jimmy inadvertently invites them, and it happens to be during Eurovision Song Contest week, so all they want to do is watch TV, smoke cigarettes and watch TV.
In terms of Jimmy’s career, is he going to get back in the groove at all or is it more fun to watch him struggle?
He will his get groove on at a certain point. He will get a big proposal together, but there’s something introduced — an old piece of his writing that Gretchen finds — that leads him to his next thing. But in between that, he’s trying different things, so he’s vacillating. He meets with some studio executives — I can’t believe I’m giving this away — to novelize the TV show that he loves that was [revealed] in the first season: NCIS: L.A. He loves that show. And then he meets with a Michael Chabon, an Aaron Sorkin-type writer who needs him to help ghostwrite something for him. He’s a really pretentious dude.
You’re entering season two and Jimmy and Gretchen are living together. Clearly, season two is admittedly early to ask this but have you thought of what the end game is for this couple?
Someone brought up the fact that the theme song’s only lyric is, “I’m gonna leave you anyway,” and maybe we have to leave there, I don’t know. No, I could imagine doing a show where they would have a kid — these are the worst parents you could imagine. Although shooting with kids is a nightmare and I probably wouldn’t want to do that, but we’ll see. As long as we’re having fun and people like it we’ll probably do it. [We’re] probably not It’s Always Sunny” length — that’s a more contained show. We’re a little more narratively driven, so I think we’ll know when it’s supposed to end.
Season two of YTW, which will also feature a rap feud, premieres Sept. 9 at 10:30 p.m. on FXX. For more scoop, check out our deep dive interview with Falk about season two here.
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