A question for you: I am aware of, and delight in, the premise of this show, wherein our two heroes are morally bankrupt dirtbags who might not deserve love but drunkenly stumble into it anyway. I know these kids are supposed to be the worst. But I am wondering, is it possible that they have gotten worst…er?
I ask because it is also possible that, in the years since You’re the Worst premiered, your recapper’s personal threshold for selfish, willfully cruel behavior has, like Hillary Clinton’s fragile health or Donald Trump’s grip on reality, diminished greatly. But it also feels like Gretchen, Jimmy, and their trash-pack crew of frenemies are worse than they used to be. Even as their self-care routines seem to improve, their treatment of each other grows more heartless by the episode.
As “Bad News, Dude’s Dead” opens, Gretchen crashes Justina’s breakfast and we learn that Gretchen has been totally up-front with Jimmy about his dad’s death and they’ve been working through his grief together — oh, no, wait, that’s not what happens at all. What I meant to say is, Gretchen has occupied herself by tricking Jimmy into giving her back rubs and scoping out “this iguana on Instagram who is so over it.”
Does Gretchen only care about how telling Jimmy will “suck so bad” for herself, or is that just her way of avoiding her avoidance strategy? Is she totally in denial about how much she cares about and doesn’t want to hurt Jimmy? I have a hard time sussing that out, to be honest, and am very curious to know how you all read this sequence. Gretchen does get in some quality burns when Justina scoffs at her stalking, though: “Stop Foursquaring yourself every time you leave the house like the mayor of Thirstytown. Also, stop using Foursquare like the mayor of 2011.”
Justina breaks one of her rules for Gretchen (sensing a pattern here) and tells her what to do. This may shock you, but the character who knows that actions have consequences thinks Gretchen has to tell Jimmy about his dad.
As is the rule in sitcoms — even hip, subversive sitcoms like this one — as soon as Gretchen theoretically makes up her mind to Do the Right Thing, a whole bunch of obstacles just magically materialize. She can’t tell him now; he’s getting his (insufferable, perfect) author photo taken! (Sidebar: I love Jimmy’s insistence that his absurd, gross procrastination techniques, including getting drinks with an editor and jerking off, are “all writing.”) She can’t tell him just yet; he just promised to take Gretchen on a “restorative trip” as a “preward” for dealing with his writerly madness. She can’t say anything today; even though Jimmy thinks a cruise is just “a floating red state,” he’s on the verge of booking the Famous Pets of Instagram Cruise so Gretchen can meet “Sombrero Iguana, Bus Stop Goat, and Cookie Pig.”
Lindsay warns Gretchen against being the deliverer of bad news. “You are no longer Jimmy’s fun sex hole,” she advises, but (a) why would anyone take relationship advice from Lindsay and (b) did we not just establish that Jimmy and Gretchen love each other and have agreed to be more than fun sex holes? Oh well! Gretchen has the straight-up sadistic idea of throwing Jimmy a congrats-on-the-book-sale party and making everyone else tell Jimmy his dad is dead.
Lindsay is another one who makes me keep asking myself: Was she always this vacant and vicious and borderline-sociopathic? I get that everything has to escalate and all but why is this woman — who CLEARLY has zero interest in being married or pregnant, to Paul or, probably, to anyone — so invested in convincing herself she’s happy in her circumstances? And I know Gretchen’s got shit to deal with here, but is Lindsay really not going to tell her best friend (?) that she needs to make some decisions, like, yesterday, before she can’t get an abortion and accidentally kills Paul?
Gretchen is too stuck in her own head to judge Lindsay’s shitshow of a life, so Lindsay spends the entire episode telling herself — not in her head, but aloud, meaning everyone in the room can hear her — that she loves Paul, and because he stands up for her one time she says it at the end of the night like she really means it, and I just … ugh, I’m sorry guys, this relationship needs to end. Let Lindsay be single! Paul can still be around — he’s still Vernon’s friend, maybe he can adopt the apparently orphaned Killian — but I think we have crossed a line of implausibility and horror that is not sustainable.
The party, as you may have predicted, does not go all that smoothly. Jimmy is full of condescending glee at the prospect of the party; 8,000 points for the delivery of this little vomit-inducingly obnoxious riff: “It would be positively UNSPORTING of me to deny you the pleasure of basking in my success, even though nothing good happened to you. I never understood that impulse, really. Although we do tend to gather around a fire.”
Even with the sort of slo-mo, stripper-style popsicle-licking and money-raining and teen-motorboating and whatnot, the party seems … lame? I get sad when I realize none of these jerks have any other friends. And, not that I missed her a ton, but wouldn’t Dorothy be there? Is she too busy for this tragedy of a celebration?
Edgar, extra-haunted now that he’s off his meds, tries to be the (only) adult in the room and tell Jimmy the truth. Jimmy is dismissive, as is his way, and completely misinterprets Edgar’s efforts. The book, Jimmy realizes aloud, is “about my need to disprove the notion that at the core, I’m just shit. Which all started when I was a kid — oh my God, it’s really about my father.” (So perfect that Edgar bolts from the room chanting ‘Bing Bong Bing Bong,’ a callback to the most emotionally devastating moment from Inside Out.)
By the time Gretchen tells Jimmy his dad is dead, he has already left his dad a voice-mail that starts off sour but ends in this sweet, gleeful line: “I just wanted to let you know, I sold a book, Daddy!” As Gretchen slowly dips out of the screen, Jimmy’s face is nothing but blank.
The Worst: Not trying to make a genuine connection with your dad until after he’s dead.
Runners-up: Gretchen’s understanding of how time zones work, Killian’s dad abandoning him at the mall, how Lindsay never finished her GED, not having footprints because of that time you stood up on a Benihana grill, hand-crutches, only being allowed to have hobbies that cost less than $25, anyone who isn’t Bruce Springsteen playing the harmonica, the state of Paul’s wound, the prospect of Becca as a mother to a daughter.
A Few Good Things: Pretending to be “with the network” to steal food from a TV set, the fact that Edgar shot a camel because he thought there was water in the hump (sounds like something I would do, no judgment), Jimmy’s heckle file (there’s a Tesco folder! So British).