One of last season’s most troubling revelations — in a season chock-full of them — was that Gretchen had never sought professional treatment for her clinical depression or taken medication. So I was relieved, really, to see her agree to see a psychiatrist who subsequently sent her to a therapist. (What’s the difference? Let Gretchen explain: “A psychiatrist is like, ‘Here, take these pills, ho.’ A therapist is like, ‘Tell me your shit, I couldn’t make it as an actor.’”)
I get why Gretch goes to this therapy appointment with her eyes rolling so hard they’re practically glued to the ceiling. I really do. And I get that Jimmy is, despite his growth, still a fundamentally self-absorbed and reckless person. But given the startling low Gretchen hit last season, you’d think Jimmy would be a little more encouraging about the whole “my girlfriend is finally getting help” thing. Instead, he spends the episode riffing self-indulgently about the most truly free moments of his life. The top five, of course, in ascending order: “Leaving his parents home, dumping a girl hard, deciding to eat a whole pizza, HAMMOCKS, and finishing a writing project.” I maintain what I said last week about this show’s stellar list-making abilities.
“Fix Me, Dummy” reveals that Gretchen has “one little chore” to do at Jimmy’s house — checking the mail. She refuses to do so, and what initially seems like a swipe at her incompetence is later revealed to be a symptom of her depression, which slaps her in the face in the worst way by the episode’s end. But we will get there in due time!
First: Jimmy’s book proposal. Edgar, who I’m pretty sure is the only character who actually read Jimmy’s novel, has some notes. “I just wanted to say thank you for valuing my opinion,” Edgar tells him. “I don’t, never have; less valuable than a dog’s opinion,” Jimmy responds, and duh, he’s already sent off the proposal. So, why have Edgar read it at all? “Because I wanted you to go, ‘WOW, you’re so smart, Jimmy! I could never do that. I’m a stupid baby.’”
When Gretchen shows up at therapy, it’s with Jimmy in tow. Soon enough, he quickly hijacks the session to bitch about Edgar’s critiques of the book proposal — “I don’t even know for sure that he can read!” — while Gretchen kills time in a corner. Somehow, her therapist Justina (hey, Samira Wiley!) manages to keep her cool.
Most of Gretchen’s reactions to therapy are not all that surprising — “I thought the happy pills were supposed to fix me,” “How is this a real profession? This feels like a scam” — until she gets to the crux of why she doesn’t want to open their mail. “Because they always want money. Or it’s jury duty. Or your grandmother sent you a check for your birthday and then you feel guilty because you never call her and then you can’t get out of bed for a month.” Is there an Emmy for escalating? If so, Aya Cash: For Your Consideration.
Then Justina makes the rookie mistake of telling Gretchen she’s allowed to say anything. Cue me, on my couch, praying: Please don’t say the N-word, please don’t say the N-word. Instead, thank God, Gretchen spits out some creative tumbling passes of profanity, which she ends by calling Justina a “titty-sucking bitch.”
Post-session, Gretchen begins stalking Justina. She’s supposedly doing it just to tell her she’s totally never coming back, but as we all know, she realizes she needs help and doesn’t want to admit it to anyone, including herself. Again, some phenomenal escalating here: “You told me there were things I could do, insinuating that I could have fixed myself anytime I wanted, and that is negating my story. It is tired, it is patriarchal, and it is rape culture-y. You are basically a rape apologist!” Basically!
I think the most impressive Gretchen riff, just in terms of Cash’s performance, comes after Justina says, “I’m proud of you for standing up for what you want.” Her response is truly priceless: “Who are you, my mom? Joke’s on you, my mom would never say that! I know you’re not my mommy. Like, what if I started calling you Mommy? How weird would that be?”
Gretchen is almost unnervingly self-aware — what kind of person knows how to articulate “being vulnerable makes me angry” — but I nevertheless had medium-good feelings about her progress. And then she gets home, faces the stack of mail, and finds an obituary for Jimmy’s dad with a very loving note from the Shive-Overly clan: “Shitty Jimmy, Dad’s dead.” To make matters even worse, she opens this envelope just as Jimmy learns that his book proposal has sold, sans any Edgar-endorsed improvements.
Moral of the story? Never open the mail.
I wonder if the YTW writers will ever post Jimmy’s book proposal somewhere on the internet, like how the Veep team put together Splettnet.net and Jonah Ryan’s campaign site. It sounds hilarious, horrendous, and absolutely like something I would read from start to finish. Naturally, in Jimmy’s effort to tear apart Edgar’s notes one by one, he discovers — shocker! — that constructive criticism makes his writing better. Other people who discover this enlightening fact: the homeless veterans who let Edgar edit their cardboard signs.
Meanwhile, Lindsay spends the entire episode in a tacky “sexy nurse” getup while doing some real body-horror shit to Paul, who has been duped into believing he backed into her kitchen knife. As Lindsay’s treatment of Paul deteriorates over the half-hour, and her childish attitude about “taking responsibility” grows and grows, it’s clear who takes the title of the Worst this week.
The Worst: Lindsay. Or, more generally, not nursing your husband back to health when you’re the person who stabbed him.
Runners-up: Asking for edits when you can’t take criticism, managing depression, nicknaming a neighborhood “WeHoCa” for “west of homeless encampment,” the cost of pig’s blood, when you can’t reach the remote, being vulnerable, the electricity bill, being a feminist who still can’t spell patriarchal right on the first try (a.k.a. being me, writing this recap).
A Few Good Things: Taking responsibility for your own life, selling your book proposal, Edgar’s idea for a sign for that one homeless guy — “From future, time machine broken, need money for plutonium (FYI: The Cowboys win the Super Bowl next year)” — not going to sleep with your shoes on, eating a whole pizza.