TV Review: You’re the Worst (2×05) “We Can Do Better Than This”

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Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of “You’re the Worst.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.

When the last 20 seconds of an episode far exceeds the minutes leading up to it in terms of narrative and emotion heft, it’s time to reevaluate how the episode structures are being broken down and tighten up the scripts.

At the very least, this week sees the characters in pairs, better than last week where they all had their separate storylines. Jimmy has been forced to take on a side job writing episodes for NCIS: LA (a show he hilariously loves) but is finding himself experiencing debilitating writer’s block. However, not before Gretchen and Edgar can get appalled at the notion that Jimmy is recapping episodes for a living (“Jimmy, are you grading this episode?” Yes, readers, I can laugh at myself), Jimmy decides that to feel better he’ll latch onto Edgar, who is going to an improv stand up show, having joined the troupe after last week’s introduction to them. He believes he’ll be going to make fun of them (dusting off his infamous heckles) but instead finds that he’s impressed with them. Edgar meanwhile finds a girl who is totally into him being a veteran, allowing him to take his mind off of Lindsay, which is a nice change of pace for the character.

Gretchen and Lindsay have a thinner storyline where the two decide to not speak about men and prove that they can come up with interesting intellectual conversations without trash-talking people or mentioning kids. Lindsay’s “This is feminism, right? “is my favorite line of the night. However, taking Lindsay’s mind off of men and her hatred of Paul dating another woman takes leads her to the internet, where she begins to get political, much to Gretchen’s annoyance.

The title of the episode “We Can Do Better Than This” lends the crucial and harsh question of whether or not any of the characters really can. They project themselves on others, highlighting others’ shortcomings and insecurities to make them feel like they’re better people because of it. As a group (maybe aside from Edgar), they’re toxic: they’re selfish, self-absorbed, shallow and mean spirited. They cut each other down more frequently than they build each other up, as demonstrated this episode with Jimmy going to heckle an improv group that Edgar was proud of, or Gretchen tugging on Lindsay’s insecurities about Paul in order to feel less alienated from Lindsay’s new interest in local politics. They’re a petty bunch, and I’m not sure at this point in time if they can be better, whether it’s at their desired careers or as genuinely good people. They are the worst; I don’t know if it’s the show’s plan to make them better people by the end of it, and I’m not sure it should be. They don’t grow in this episode, but there were hints of self-awareness, at least with Jimmy, who has spent the series up until this point unshakably egotistical about his first and only novel. If many people didn’t buy it, it’s because the general public couldn’t understand it, and if those who did read it didn’t like it, then they get go to hell. In “We Can Do Better Than This,” Jimmy starts to see other’s talent and appreciate it, becoming less and less confident, believing he’s little more than a visitor in life, unlikely to make any significant contributions.

All of this changes when he gets home and sees Gretchen masturbating to his erotic fiction he wrote when he was eleven–something she had mocked him for earlier. He reads it to her and decides that this is what he was meant to do. He’s going to write an erotic fiction but as an adult.

Then the ending happens, and the silliness that had preceded it gets washed away in another gut punch of an ending. Last week, we saw Gretchen disappear into the night with her burner phone, and this week, when she does it again, we see that Jimmy knows about it. Chris Geere’s face, like Aya Cash’s last week, give us all we need to sell the emotional heft of this moment. It’s a great moment and a powerful one but again exemplifies the problem with season two so far. Everything is far too splintered and too overstuffed for anything to truly stick except for these brief moments of emotional gravitas. This show is great for laughs (I laugh more during this show than many of the other comedies I watch combined), but it needs to start corralling its characters and giving them some substantial story lines.

With much left unsaid by the episode’s end, with each character masking the truth or potential conflicts between them with jokes, alcohol and sex, we’re hopefully heading towards some open resolution of the storyline.

Thoughts? Who liked it more than me?

6/10

She is a 23 year old in Boston MA. She is hugely passionate about film, television and writing. Along with theyoungfolks, she also is a contributor over at TheMarySue.com . You can contact her on Twitter (@AllysonAJ) or via email: allyson@theyoungfolks.com.