From the very beginning, You’re the Worst has shown us the very best (and worst) of what a toxic relationship can be. Jimmy and Gretchen have found that sweet spot in between total self-destructive behavior and a refusal to moralize on that behavior. They stole a cat, they spent the first few months of their cohabitation drinking and doing coke all night, they had a battle of one-night stands to make sure their points were even in the game of who’s banging how many other people. In most other shows— well, these things wouldn’t happen. But if they did, the characters would at least come together to discuss having learned something, anything. Jimmy and Gretchen, on the other hand, are the worst. We know that. And that’s why they’re allowed to be their terrible selves, and their tiny, nearly inconsequential epiphanies seem like major growth.
They’re also balanced out by their respective BFFs, Lindsay and Edgar. (Don’t let Jimmy’s “friends are for babies” spiel from last night fool you. Edgar is a best friend if ever there was one.) Sure, these two have their issues— Edgar is battling PTSD and Lindsay boned her way through all the strangers in Los Angeles— but they also have a strange innocence that made what I have to imagine is every single viewer thrilled when they started bonding last season. They were a perfect pair of
sidekicks Beyoncés who were not only great relief from Jimmy and Gretchen’s destructive A plots, but they really did help each other. Lindsay helped Edgar stay clean and Edgar helped Lindsay cut open her jaw wires so she could eat pancakes. (And, of course, more than that, help her believe she doesn’t need to wire anything shut just to fit in with the other West Side wives.)
When these two started forming a strong bond, we were ecstatic. They were great together, and we figured it was only a matter of time before their friendship turned to more. And we were right. At the end of last season, all it took was one emotional Kate Bush karaoke number for Edgar to find that spark.
The problem (or ONE problem) was that this crush was one-sided. For the first two episodes of the season, Edgar had been focused on winning Lindsay’s affections. And once Lindsay figured this out, her immediate instinct was to exploit Edgar’s feelings and make her do stuff for him. Really hurtful stuff, like wingman for her and help her take sexy pictures for her Tinder profile. (And yes, Edgar didn’t have the worst time doing that last one, but it’s still a shitty thing to make a guy do when you know he’s crushing on you.) This was the first time I actually started to think Lindsay could be the eponymous worst. Even when she spent half of last season cheating on her sweet husband Paul, she didn’t seem nearly as heartless as in these few scenes with Edgar. And while I was angry at Lindsay for doing these things, I was more upset with the show’s writers for reducing Edgar and Lindsay’s bond to this abusive, callous, doormat dynamic.
And then last night, something shifted. The latest episode, “Born Dead,” focused on Gretchen throwing a party for her old friends, and while it, like a lot of this season so far, felt a little more generic or more sitcom-y than what we grew to love last season, Lindsay and Edgar had a more honest and touching moment than anything we’ve seen from the already painfully honest show. So far, it had been easy to hate Lindsay for using Edgar, and our enthusiasm for ‘shipping these two had been killed because we wanted better for Edgar. But last night, after pining after her and pretending to be her boyfriend to make Paul jealous, it became clear that Edgar really isn’t any good for Lindsay, either. Lindsay is going through a serious and traumatic life upheaval, and while she may distract herself with cocaine and Tinder randos, she’s in pain. We may think a nice guy (as in REALLY nice, not the MRA kind of “nice guy” we usually hear about) like Edgar is just what she needs, and he is full of so much love it really is hard not to want him to shower it on Lindsay, especially when he does it so very well.
But in the end, all he’s really doing is enabling her to be selfish. In “Born Dead,” she finally at least caught a glimpse of that, of taking an honest look at herself and how she interacts with those around her. Take this heartbreaking exchange:
Lindsay: “Edgar, I’m sorry… For using you to try to make Paul jealous. Amy’s [Paul’s new girlfriend] great… She’s nice. And you’re nice. And Paul is nice. And I’m, well… not.
Edgar: I think you’re great.
Lindsay: No, I’m materialistic. I’m incapable of being alone. I never really learned how to shower that good. And how does Edgar respond? With a fantastic, Nicholas Sparks fairytale of a kiss. Something that should (and would, in a Nicholas Sparks fairytale) be wonderful, and give her the self-esteem boost to be a happy, healthy person. But in the reality of this show, all it did was bring her back to the simplistic plan of making Paul jealous. By offering up what he thought was true affection, it was only a crutch for Lindsay to not look inward. Edgar’s love or lust or crush or whatever you want to call it should, in a perfect world, be something more. But just as Lindsay is no good for Edgar right now, his unconditional affection is no good for her. She needs conditions. She needs honesty. By offering himself up as her doormat, he’s only ensuring that she never has to be responsible for keeping her own feet clean.
Jimmy and Gretchen may beat us over the head (in the best possible way!) with their failings and self-destruction, Lindsay snuck hers in. Gretchen’s growth moment of the episode, realizing she’s growing up and can dance at home instead of going clubbing was sweet, but Lindsay’s was quieter, and much more profound. It was a beautiful Beyoncé of a moment for a character that could so easily be the quirky sidekick. I only hope Edgar and Lindsay regain their pure friendship status— hopefully stronger than ever— before one character really hurts the other.