Wednesday, September 6, 2017

REVIEW: 'You're the Worst' - Jimmy and Gretchen Adjust Horribly to Their New Realities in 'It's Been, Parts 1 and 2'

FXX's You're the Worst - Episode 4.01 and 4.02 "It's Been, Parts 1 and 2"

After proposing to Gretchen and immediately abandoning her on a hilltop, Jimmy has gone into hiding in the middle of nowhere in an attempt to escape reality. Reality does not comply. Gretchen takes baby steps toward reconstructing her life. Edgar and Lindsay struggle to find normalcy in their new post-Jimmy/Gretchen world.

"It's Been" is a terrific hourlong return for You're the Worst. It represents a key change for the show as well. Core dynamics have shifted in an attempt to keep the comedy as smart and funny as ever while not relying on the same tropes over and over again. The third season of this show was still terrific. It was a little more experimental and those experiments didn't always pay off. By the end of the run, it was also clear that the show needed to do something to change up its status quo. That's the exact conclusion that the creative team drew as well. So, Jimmy proposed to Gretchen and then immediately abandoned her on the hillside. It was such a surprising decision but one that also makes sense given these characters and the fears they have about relationships and intimacy. And now, both Jimmy and Gretchen's reactions to that moment feel true. This premiere is split up into two distinct halves. The first is all about Jimmy and the new existence he has run off to. The second is more like a a traditional episode of the show focusing on the characters left behind in Los Angeles. But it's still incredibly funny while revealing just how poorly Gretchen is coping with all of this as well. Both episodes benefit from airing back-to-back. They play as parallels to one another. They are catching the audience up to what life has been like for them in the three months since that proposal and abandonment. And now, things are bound to get even more complicated as they deal with the consequences of those actions.

Jimmy is literally running away from his problems once more. He made the decision to proposal to Gretchen. He meant it. But he also ran away out of fear about what such an action would do to him. He meant that too. He can't just take it back either. He did this absolutely horrible thing. He completely destroyed their relationship. Instead of turning around and dealing with that fallout, he is hiding out in a retirement community. That's a lot of fun. The first episode is pretty wistful and meditative. It corresponds to the mood Jimmy is in right now as well. He's cut off from the world he left behind. He's rid himself of all that he once cared about. He's turned his phone off and fallen into a routine with the local community. He's doing odd jobs around the neighborhood fixing things for people. He's really becoming quite skilled with tools over the course of this series. That's a skill set he didn't even know he had. He has a routine at the local karaoke bar. Plus, he has an arrangement with his neighbor, Bert (Raymond J. Barry from Justified), where they just watch old episodes of The Fall Guy. It's an idyllic life for Jimmy. Something he believes he truly wants. He can be left all alone and do whatever he wants. But he's still running away from his problems instead of facing them.

Jimmy is forced to accept that that is what he is doing over the course of this episode. As such, it's the more formulaic of the two simply because it does build to that happy ending that can force the main plot into motion once more. But it's still a ton of fun - especially when it comes to Jimmy and Bert swinging a golf club at a plastic flamingo in slow motion. These two are kindred spirits who appreciate not being told what they can and can't do. This community wants Bert to stop driving. He's a maniac on the road. He just sees that as people trying to meddle in his business. They are doing that because they care and want him to be a part of this community. Jimmy agrees with Bert... until he actually goes for a ride with him. After that, he's preaching about accepting the truth of the moment. It's pure hypocrisy coming out of Jimmy's month when he says it. Bert even calls him out for it. He never asked what Jimmy was running away from because it wasn't his business. But the handling of this situation forces Jimmy to realize the error of his mistakes and drive back to the city. He's finally ready to re-enter the lives of the people left behind. Meanwhile, Bert accepts that he can become a part of this community without losing his edge. Yes, he's getting older and can't do things. But he can still yell at younger people for getting in the way and not minding their own business. In fact, he's quite good at doing that.

The second episode is much more ridiculous and over-the-top. It's blatant and in-your-face with its comedy. It's the edge that the audience is used to with this show. It focuses on how things have dramatically changed for Gretchen, Lindsay and Edgar. It's fascinating to see it spend time on all three of them instead of just Gretchen. All of them have been affected by this breakup. But now, Lindsay and Edgar are actually the healthy ones of the core group of characters. That's such a startling realization. No one has been perfectly happy or well-adjusted on this show so far. This show derives most of its comedy from the horrible situations these characters create for themselves because of their actions. But it's fitting to see Lindsay and Edgar have this newfound success while still being themselves. It's fun to see Lindsay have her working girl montage with her own spin on it. Just because she's employed and has her own apartment now doesn't mean she's not going to still be cutting in lines and eating other people's food with her bare hands. She's still Lindsay after all. Meanwhile, Edgar has a solid job writing for a sketch comedy show. He's more successful as a writer than Jimmy ever was - despite it being two wildly different types of writing. But he's still the Edgar who worries about his friends while jumping on a trampoline in the middle of the living room. Things have changed but the characters are still fundamentally the same.

Of course, that change is actually quite destructive for Gretchen. She's not spiraling because she has gone off her medication. She's actually quite healthy when it comes to her mind. She has her routine of taking her medication and talking to her therapist. But she's failing to cope in other ways. She's moved in with Lindsay but hasn't left the apartment at all in three months - not even for the 45 minutes where Lindsay comes home for lunch to masturbate. That's not healthy at all. Gretchen is the one pushing Gretchen to have a life once more. She can't just follow her around hoping she'll always be her best friend. It's gotten exhausting especially with the new job she has. All of this culminates in a surprising way for Lindsay and Edgar. They actually hook up! After three seasons of teasing that dynamic, it actually happens. It's not a dynamic filled with emotions though. It's just casual sex with no feelings at all. That's the relationship they both want. They want to focus on work. And if sex happens again, they are fine with it. If not, they are still fine. That makes them seem incredibly healthy even though it doesn't seem destined to last knowing what this show is. Meanwhile, things aren't looking so good for Gretchen. She has officially moved Jimmy to the "exes" listing in her phone. But the only way she is coping is by sleeping with her other ex-lover, Ty, again. She's in a self-destructive pattern of smoking crack, having casual sex and performing all the words to "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies in order to avoid dealing with her feelings. But a one word text from Jimmy is bound to change all of that very quickly.

Some more thoughts:
  • "It's Been, Parts 1 and 2" was written by Stephen Falk and directed by Stephen Falk.
  • Which is the funnier moment of false realization: Jimmy believing he has coined the term "s'mores"? Or Edgar thinking he just invented "friends with benefits"? I would say the Edgar one just because it's going to be a recurring story. But Jimmy's moment was great because he previously believed s'mores were called "fluffer grahams."
  • The local library in Jimmy's new environment has an interesting collection of shows to watch on DVD. In addition to The Fall Guy, the other options include House of Cards, The A-Team, Wonderfalls, Deadwood, Ugly Betty, The Profiler and L.A. Law. Jimmy even tries to convince Bert to watch L.A. Law despite how outdated it may now feel.
  • Gretchen's clients believe she is traveling Europe and forming new contacts there for a global expansion with their music. Sam and the boys genuinely seem to believe that as well despite her not all that believable Skype call. Of course, it's also amusing to see how the show explains away Honeynutz's absence. Apparently, he's getting a colonoscopy for some reason.
  • It's amusing how everyone agrees that work is only suppose to happen in the day. Work outside of that is just unbearable. And yet, that's the new responsibilities that come from Lindsay's promotion. She's really excelling as an assistant stylist despite showing up hungover from crack and trying to kiss her boss when she is getting that promotion.
  • Seriously though, it's epic to watch Gretchen burst out into "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies. It's so completely random. And yet, it's completely fitting because of her new obsession with radio and especially a channel that plays '90s music. After three months of staying in the apartment, she has the whole song memorized. That's very impressive while also a little sad in the context of this story.
  • Jimmy to Bert: "Yeah, you're right the DVD selection is pathetic here. But what do you expect from a town whose tax money all goes to opioid treatment and bark beetle eradication."
  • Jimmy to Bert: "You're only 71? Jesus Christ. You look like a boat dock came to life."
  • Lindsay's boss: "Read these. They're a good start for understanding my style philosophy. And influences. And probably the origins of my body dysmorphia. Why I eat ice for lunch."
  • Gretchen: "I know. Let's go kill someone!" Lindsay: "Focus!"