This week is the premiere of what may be my favorite new show of last year: YOU’RE THE WORST. Created and written by Stephen Falk, the series is about narcissistic writer Jimmy and pathological liar, PR rep Gretchen and their amusingly terrible relationship. They are joined by each of their best friends, Jimmy’s roommate and former dealer Edgar, and Gretchen’s longtime friend, Lindsay, whom she lost to the suburbs a year or two prior. The central couple and their two friends feel like an updated and much darker version of MAD ABOUT YOU (a series I had been nostalgically watching just a month before this series premiered its first season). Season One debuted quietly in the summer of 2014 and grew a strong online following leading to FX renewing it for a second season. In the fall of 2014, two other series (A TO Z and MANHATTAN LOVE STORY) attempted to be modern takes on the the Paul Reiser 90’s sitcom, unfortunately for them they were terrible. I wonder if this series had aired after the two network series if it would have hurt or helped YTW. It having aired first made me love it more, but I wonder if network audiences would have been able to stumble upon it as a pallet cleanser for the other shows. Either way, season two is here and in honor of its impending premiere I will break down the infamous episode 5: SUNDAY FUNDAY.
The Set Up
SEASON ONE, EPISODE FIVE: SUNDAY FUNDAY
This series usually employs three or four storylines. The A-Story will always be Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship, and the two secondary stories are split between Edgar and Lindsay. Occasionally, Jimmy and Gretchen will have separate storylines, but it is much less common. For this episode, the three storylines are as follows:
A-Story: Jimmy attempts to subtly help Gretchen choose between going to Tribeca with her other fling, Ty, or staying and hanging out in Los Angeles with him.
B-Story: Edgar wants to put on the best Sunday Funday ever.
C-Story: Lindsay is unhappy in life but cannot find the root of the problem.
A: Gretchen arrives at Sunday Funday and tells Lindsay that she has an offer from Ty to go with him to the Tribeca Film Festival. She is torn and has decided to distract herself from making a decision by getting wasted and enjoying the day with Lindsay and Edgar.
B: Jimmy, humiliated to be involved in Sunday Funday, points out the embarrassing nearby hipsters who are also embracing the ridiculousness of the day. Edgar confidently declares that they are completely different as he shows off his list of activities and that with him as the day’s guide it will be the best Sunday Funday ever.
B: The Hipster Ringleader returns Edgar’s list to him, saying that Edgar dropped it. The Hipster leaves but Edgar is suspicious of the kid.
A: Lindsay privately tells Jimmy about Gretchen’s invite from Ty. Jimmy decides to dive into Sunday Funday, instead of taking off, in an attempt to change Gretchen’s mind.
B: The group arrive at the record store only to be followed in by the hipsters. Edgar looks worried.
A: Jimmy quizzes Gretchen over who she likes more: Peter Gabriel or Phil Collins. Gretchen frustrates him when she refuses to decide.
B: Edgar races the Hipster in flipping through records. Edgar loses and the Hipster leaves confidently with his crew.
A: Lindsay says she has to leave to join the “salad-eaters” on the west side. Gretchen convinces her to stay by buying her a record. Clearly Gretchen knows she needs help in making her decision.
A: Jimmy continues to give more pairs for Gretchen to choose between. She avoids choosing by either not choosing or finding a third option Jimmy didn’t think of.
A: Gretchen gets a text. She tries to hide it from Jimmy, but he calls her on it and she apologizes, trying to downplay it.
B: The gang arrive at a taco stand in a graveyard, only to see that the hipsters are already there. Edgar fumes.
A: Gretchen asks Jimmy what the big deal is and he says “because I’m asking you to.” Gretchen realizes that Jimmy knows about Ty’s offer.
A: Gretchen confronts Lindsay about spilling the beans to Jimmy. Lindsay denies and bolts, she has a party to get to on the west side.
B: The left over trio go shopping cart racing, only to find themselves actually racing the hipsters again. Edgar and Gretchen can’t control the cart and dive off before it hits a giant can filled with water, drowning Jimmy.
A: The trio go to an open house and Gretchen uses it as an opportunity to force Jimmy to take a shower while she gets him some clothes.
A: Jimmy comes out of the shower to see Gretchen on the phone with Ty. He ditches his best friend and girlfriend.
A: The hipsters arrive and Edgar confronts them about stealing his list. The Ringleader claims that he already new of the open house on his own, scoffing at Edgar.
A: Gretchen befriends the “sloppy sweatshirt” hipster for a minute to commiserate about their boy troubles, but she quickly becomes bored and walks away.
A: Gretchen declares she needs Lindsay, so Gretchen and Edgar ride on hipsters’ bikes, letting Edgar’s nemesis give them a ride across town.
C: Gretchen arrives to find Lindsay enjoying herself in with the other suburban women. Horrified, Gretchen drags Lindsay away to talk privately.
A: Jimmy sits alone in a diner eating pancakes and eggs. He appears to have a realization and texts Edgar to find out where they are.
C: Gretchen confronts Lindsay about her actually enjoying the suburbs. Lindsay explains that she enjoys being the center of attention with them.
C: Lindsay says she is unsure what it is about these parties that makes her unhappy. Paul asks her a simple question and Lindsay snaps. The problem isn’t the other women, it’s Lindsay’s marriage.
A: Gretchen attempts to console Lindsay, telling her that no relationships are as perfect and nice as they seem. Jimmy arrives and she has a moment of hope in her relationship.
A: Gretchen finds Jimmy. He makes a final plea referencing all the pairs he has made that day, hoping to convince Gretchen. Gretchen tells him to just tell her directly what he wants.
A: Jimmy asks Gretchen not to go to Tribeca. She says she won’t and the two leave together.
B: Edgar confesses his own insecurities to the Ringleader. They hug it out and Edgar discovers his list on the Hipster’s arm.
B: The Hipster confesses he stole the list and his own shallow insecurities. Edgar is validated and leaves confidently.
C: Lindsay sees Paul with a baby and is questioned about when she wants one of her own. She panics and runs out of the party.
THE END 22:00
The structure of this episode are fairly straight forward. The Teaser and First Act set up the dilemma for the A and B-story, with Jimmy’s declaration to stay and join Sunday Funday as a clear First Act Decision. Act Two provides each character with a series of progress and reversals, with the Midpoint being the loss of Lindsay. The end of Act Two shows Gretchen/Jimmy’s Low Point clearly when Jimmy leaves, causing Gretchen to be physically stranded and Jimmy alone. For Edgar, Jimmy’s leaving is also the Low Point as it leads to Gretchen declaring with disappointment, “Well, Sunday Funday is over.” Gretchen’s Plot Push is to see out Lindsay as she cannot make this decision on her own. Meanwhile, Jimmy sitting at the diner and texting Edgar is the Plot Push and Third Act Decision. Jimmy’s arrival gives Gretchen her Third Act Decision to choose him if it is what he wants. The Climax is Gretchen agreeing not to go to Tribeca when Jimmy directly asks her not.
As for Lindsay and the C-Story, this has a shorter structure. The Set Up is Lindsay’s annoyance of having to go to the Westside but putting it off while she hangs out with her friends, her Action is to go to the party where she has a great time, the Climax is Gretchen’s confrontation of Lindsay and Lindsay’s realization that there is a problem in her marriage. The Resolution is Lindsay is not facing the problem, but literally running away from it in the end. This structure is not full Three Act structure, but one traditional sequence. It is common for subplots to have these fewer beats and screen time, and is happening more and more even in half hours as serialized storytelling becomes the number one format. In the past it has been much more prevalent in one hours, but as the number of cable half hours skyrocket, so does the need for more complex character arcs for binge-able series.
Again, if you have not seen this series do yourself a favor and get on it! This series has some of the best half hour writers and cast on television right now, and is definitely a must watch.