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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the hourlong season four premiere of FXX’s You’re the Worst.]
FXX’s You’re the Worst returned for its fourth season Wednesday and three months have passed since Jimmy (Chris Geere) abandoned Gretchen (Aya Cash) on a Hollywood hill after proposing marriage. And, judging from the hourlong premiere, neither one of them are really ready to face reality.
Both of them coped with their breakup by running away: for Jimmy, that meant leaving town and going to a camper community where he could escape reality. And for Gretchen, it meant camping out at Lindsay’s (Kether Donohue) place and rarely leaving the apartment.
“You see what they have been doing and they’ve both been hiding in different ways from the betrayal,” You’re the Worst creator and showrunner Stephen Falk tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We thought a lot about what would be the most Jimmy and Gretchen way of fighting for what happened and that’s what you see in the premiere.”
As for Edgar (Desmin Borges) and Lindsay, well, the formerly needy sidekicks have now become the more reliable of the quartet — and a “friends with benefits” couple.
Below, Falk opens up about what to expect from the remainder of season four of the FXX critical darling.
Season three was about family and responsibility. What’s the larger theme of season four?
In a way, it’s exploring the aftermath of a betrayal and what that does to people on both sides. There’s a greater theme and it’s life leaves its dew on you. In other words, no matter how self-sufficient you are, life, people and experiences have an effect on you. There are ways in which all the characters are learning that this season: that no one is an island and no one can completely Etch a Sketch shake someone’s affect off of them, no matter how much they try. We’re operating on a couple levels: the typical step of a relationship going on a temporary break — like the Ross and Rachel “we were on a break!” thing. But also, then the grander notion of trying to escape someone’s life effect on yourself.
How did you wind up at that?
It’s something we all have been talking about. It’s actually a bastardization of a quote an ex-girlfriend’s mom told her about not dating too many people. It was something like imagine your sexuality is a stick and every other stick you rub up against leaves something on you. It was a weird way of warning her not to fuck too many people because no matter how much you think you’re over it, those encounters have an effect on you. In a greater You’re the Worst sense, at this point in season four, we felt they were done pretending that they didn’t need each other in a way. It felt like you started with two characters, Jimmy and Gretchen, who both either didn’t need love or were scared of it or didn’t believe in it and though they have moved in together and said I love you and even proposed, there’s even a sense that they exist — and they even said this — only because they know they can walk away from it at any time. That allows them to be comfortable with it. This felt like the point where they could no longer do that; they had to realize that and by proxy realize that they can’t walk away from experiences or relationships.
When the show launched in season one, you mentioned that the show isn’t a “will they or won’t they.” But now that Jimmy and Gretchen have split up, it has almost become that again — in terms of if they’ll get back together. How much of season four is about that journey?
Season four is a lot about that. We’ve always been interested in not just doing a story point and then resetting it right away. That always feels sloppy when shows do that. We like to see things play out and really mine the story for everything it’s worth. If we were going to have this betrayal, then we were really going to examine what happens now. What’s the world in which Jimmy and Gretchen come back from this? Is there? What do they look like if they’re on a break? If we keep them separate, is that still the show? Do we find a way to have them in each other’s orbit but not in a way that feels false or too easy? Season four attempts to fulfill the promise of what we set up at the end of season three and always flirts with the line from the theme song that says there’s no guarantees with these two. But in a way that hopefully has some tension but also some amount of inevitability in the way it resolves itself by the end of the season.
As you look to the end of the season, will there be an answer if Jimmy and Gretchen get back together or is that a story that could drift into season five?
You’ll have an answer by the final frame of the season.
The premiere illustrated how Jimmy and Gretchen each dealt with the aftermath of the world’s worst marriage proposal. How else will you explore how they cope with this breakup?
Pretty early on in crafting the season we realized that it was important to have them in each other’s orbit. We found a way to do that by episode four where they are not living completely separate lives yet they are still dealing with the aftermath in a very strong way. There’s a lot of revenge that needs to be accomplished. There’s a sense that Jimmy would like to forget about what happened and move forward. And for someone like Gretchen, that’s not possible or realistic — certainly not with what happened. They’re like two plants orbiting each other but their orbits start getting dangerously close to a collision.
You mentioned at TCA that much of the season finds Jimmy and Gretchen separated from one another. How did that present a challenge?
We had to test the quality of our mettle of what we could do where so much juice and fun of the show was Jimmy and Gretchen together and the way they take on the world. The challenge and the fun was both keeping them alive as an entity and at the same time having them continue with their lives and doing things both in reaction to the breakup and then separate from it. The challenges are to keep the Jimmy and Gretchen-ness of the show alive and I think we found some creative ways of making that happen.
Colin Ferguson is coming in as a love interest for Gretchen. What will she learn from their time together?
She meets this guy through a very Gretchen method and he really represents an alternative. That’s really fundamental to a messy breakup/non-breakup situation: to view and dabble with the other possibilities — what else is out there? What could I go to? It helps sometimes to solidify the breakup and sometimes it helps show, “Oh my god if this is my option I need to run back and make things work with the ex.” There’s a level in which Colin’s character exists like that for her and we’ll learn more about him and what his situation is as time goes on. But he really represents what kind of life could Gretchen have if she got out of her own way? That’s very appealing to a certain extent for her. At the same time, it’s not easy because he’s not boring and he’s not just safe; he’s also kinda weird and has his own shit going on, which is something Gretchen requires.
Will Jimmy also explore other alternatives?
Yes, there’s a girl in the offering for Jimmy later this season; it takes a very different course than Gretchen’s.
Of the foursome, Jimmy and Gretchen had their lives more together than Edgar and Lindsay. But this season, those roles are reversed. How much of that was that intentional?
It was 100 percent intentional. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the idea of rom-com sidekicks and yet they’re kind of necessary for the form. So early on in the first season, the writers made a specific choice to have Lindsay and Edgar realize they were sidekicks pretty early — like they gained self-awareness. It allowed them to continue to function in that role but not be purely be functionary characters. This is more of a natural progression of that and the inevitable evolution is that the functionaries become the ones that are actually functional. The main characters [Jimmy and Gretchen] are relegated to being a mess and less necessary. We see Gretchen in the premiere be so annoying that Lindsay has to say, “I don’t want to hang out with you anymore; I’m busy!” In the world of the show, that would never happen! Lindsay is always there for whatever Gretchen needs. That was the inevitable evolution. But the relationships continue, they just have evolved.
Edgar and Lindsay are in a good place both professionally and personally, though someone always winds up getting hurt in the “friends with benefits” scenario. What are the challenges for them this season?
The challenge for them is to figure out now that they’re “adults” and have entered the adult world — they both have legit jobs that require thought, effort and professionalism. The challenge for them is how they don’t get in their own way. We’ll see Edgar try to not re-create his Jimmy relationship but find a new friendship. He’ll be meeting a new guy and hanging out and seeing what that means for Edgar the civilian now to have a male friendship that isn’t just landlord/freeloader. It’s tied in with his job and the complications that arise have a big impact on that. And for Lindsay, she is trying to figure out her place in the world: What is she now that she’s no longer just a wife or a best friend? She’s trying to operate in a professional situation while still retaining her Lindsay-ness and that’s difficult for her. She has to put on this act and really early on she realizes that that doesn’t garner her any favors. So she tries to figure out if you can be the disgusting mess that Lindsay is in a professional situation.
Is Sunday Funday back this season or was last season really the last one?
No, sadly. I aim to please but I’m also am very aware of when something feels tired for us. That’s not to say that we won’t do it again next season and reboot Sunday Funday. But for now we thought they’re dealing with too much to run around and go to brunch and day drink all day. It just didn’t fit with the storyline this season.
Are there other bottle episodes this season?
There is a bottle episode where we don’t leave the house. We started with Jimmy and the first half of the hour premiere being in a completely different location with just him. And episode seven sees Gretchen going home back to where she came from and that’s the episode with Zosia Mamet.
Have you started thinking about what season five is? And in a bigger picture, what your ideal run for the show is?
I know what next season will be in a way that I never have before. I’m very excited about it. I’ve been loath to name a figure but I think seven [seasons] would feel really good. I can see next season and it feels like there’s two more steps up beyond that for Jimmy and Gretchen and for the show. And I know the cast would be very up for that. That would be a fun goal. Getting to this point with season four, where hundreds of shows have come and gone since we premiered is really fun. To find ourselves at middle age and feeling still really excited and invigorated is a nice place to be.
You’re the Worst airs Wednesdays on FXX.
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