Gretchen was not supposed to mail Jimmy's deadline-threat letters. Which means, of course, Gretchen mailed Jimmy's deadline-threat letters.
Sure, his motivational writing technique was a little confusing, but also, Gretchen has been on another planet lately — or, more accurately, she has totally retreated into herself, disappearing under layers of melancholy and sorrow and blankets. (Is there an Emmy for "Best Work With Blankets" because, if so, mazel tov in advance to Aya Cash!)
Anyway, before the consequences of those letters become terribly clear, Gretchen and Jimmy have sex that takes a rough turn. She tells him to slap her "if you can get over your fear of hurting me" — and he goes for it in a way that seems like he has approximately zero fear of hurting her — then the forlorn lovebirds turn to their cell phones, where Jimmy discovers his family is already on a plane bound for LAX. Oops! He'd tell them to suck his dick, but they're already in the air.
"I cannot have these lunatics in my house," he says, which is exciting because what kind of lunatics could they possibly be?
Jimmy leans on Gretchen for help, but she folds fast. She admits that she lied about being better and when he insists she step up, she says, "I don't wanna." Jimmy then utters the truest words ever spoken: "Nobody wanna!"
(Time for an important sidebar about something that's been bothering me: Gretchen has suffered from clinical depression for years. She has a job which presumably comes with health insurance. It's not her first time at this mental-health breakdown rodeo, so … why doesn't she have a plan of action? Where is Lindsay, who was at her side when she first took a dip in the darkness? Why haven't we heard about anything that could actually be useful for her, like seeing a therapist or taking medication? What did she do the last time this happened? Why is everyone just sitting around as if this serious medical issue will magically solve itself? Is Gretchen just supposed to pad around Jimmy's apartment in a drunk, leggings-wearing haze for the rest of her natural life?)
Okay, back to the episode. This is where I must admit — I know, I'm sorry, I want to love everything about this show too! — the Shive-Overly clan disappointed me. They're one-dimensional terrible people, which is a surprise, considering how You're the Worst is fantastic at producing three-dimensional terrible people. (See: literally anyone except Edgar, that beautiful soul.) But the Shive-Overlys are, save one, a bunch of loud, self-loathing bullies. Their sick burns are more like noogies: "I've forgotten what soft hands you have. It's like shaking hands with the royal baby. The girl royal baby."
Jimmy's dad is a jerk who buys a gun just because he can — the dealer brings it right to the door, go USA! — and has a very unrealistic bonding moment with his son that is maybe supposed to redeem him, but really doesn't. Though he's clearly been stuck in a bad place since Jimmy's mom split for a hot guy named Tony, he doesn't seem like he was ever a particularly charming bloke.
Jimmy's two sisters, Di and Fiona, are vicious; one works at a Tesco supermarket that sounds like a hellscape. He does have a good sister, Lily, who works at a strip club because her family has taught her that "university is just a place wankers go to study poetry and fist themselves." So instead, she got a tattoo of Dobby the house elf in a place we can't see on TV. I thought there'd maybe be something more from her in this episode — she does spend the day running around town with Edgar — but, nope.
Lindsay's assessment of the Shive-Overlys says it best: "I thought all English people were fancy. But these are like Alabama English people." Watching them get glued to the singing competition on TV felt like watching that one episode of Black Mirror all over again. As if it weren't creepy enough the first time!
When Jimmy has to work, Gretchen takes his family to Whole Foods. Then it gets weird. They get very overwhelmed and realize that, maybe, their lives are empty and meaningless? And their hometown is a waking nightmare? ("The last horse in our town was used to make gelatin for the lunatic asylum.") All I really got from seeing Jimmy's family is that it's a not-so-small miracle he grew up to be as not-terrible as he is.
At one point, Jimmy explodes at his family and tells them to leave: "You are just unhappy, uneducated garbage! And I want you out of my house!" And they all laugh at him. It's heartbreaking and strange.
Eventually, he winds up back at the bar with the bartender from the Halloween episode. After Gretchen tells Jimmy that she can't listen to him vent, this new girl has the magic words: "Start from the beginning."
Meanwhile, Gretchen deploys Lindsay to help Sam with a wardrobe crisis. Sam wants to look extra dope because Shitstain and Honeynutz dropped a diss track that mocked him "so thoroughly they have me doubting my signature style that GQ magazine once called 'courageously headache-y.'" He needs to fire back with a response, and when he hears Lindsay singing to herself, decides to enlists her in his efforts. She teaches him the ultimate blow off: New phone, who dis. It is awesome. More Lindsay and Sam, please!
With only three episodes left, this seems like a good opportunity to zoom out on the season. There's a part of me that is grateful that the show is going there: doubling-down on the dark undercurrents that make its protagonists the "worst." Gretchen's aversion to monogamy and Jimmy's general disdain for humanity aren't just affectations, and getting more than just a glimpse of that is useful, compelling stuff. But sometimes, it can feel a bit like a bait-and-switch. This isn't really the same show we were watching last season, is it? Sometimes the darkness-to-funny ratio feels a bit … off.
So I'm torn. The ways You're the Worst pushes beyond the usual confines of form is impressive, but I wish it wouldn't be so devoted to deep character development that it forgets to crack ridiculous jokes. It feels like the show is doing with darkness what, in its last season, Parks and Recreation did with love and happiness — going all-in on the emotional lives of its characters at the expense of filling the half-hour with humor.
What do you think? Bonus points for anyone who writes a draft of Jimmy's love letter to Becca in the comments.
The worst: How to choose just one Shive-Overly? I couldn't possibly. I'll choose two instead: Di and Fiona.
Runners-up: People who provide no context for their stories, locally sourced flamingo eggs, Jimmy's nicknames, particularly "Crybaby Fartface" and "Little Jizzman."
A few good things: CoolBookGirl14 on Goodreads, who called Jimmy's book an "emotional rollercoaster," Lindsay's hook for Sam's new song.