A major defining characteristic for nearly everyone on You’re the Worst has always been their inability to see other people as fully formed humans. From their relationships with each other, to the ways they view exes, midwestern boys, and neighbor kids, nearly everyone has a total inability to see the world as anything but the movie of their life, and themselves as anything but the one and only important character. The one exception may be Edgar, but his utter commitment to playing a human prop in Jimmy’s story is not that much different. It’s still relegating humans (just in this case that human is himself) to supporting roles and refusing to give them the respect they deserve.
This type of narcissistic protagonist isn’t unique to this show, of course. Seinfeld springs immediately to mind, although You’re the Worst’s narcissists actually seem healthier, in a way. Sure, their egos are played for comedy, but they’re also never asked to back down or be “nice people.”. In a different set of circumstances, they may easily be entirely unlikeable. But because we rarely see them interact with the world, and instead mostly just with each other, their horribleness creates a fascinating dynamic that doesn’t need to waste a lot of time defending itself.
This season, though, took a sharp turn. Where season one had Gretchen, Jimmy, and Lindsay’s narcissism played mostly for laughs, it suddenly got dark. The brilliant “LCD Soundsystem” was all about Gretchen trying to patch up her “broken” brain by putting on another couple’s life like a new jacket. (Because that’s what people are, right? Just a set of elements you can adopt?) Jimmy didn’t understand Gretchen’s struggle, so when his earnest but superficial efforts fell flat, he nearly gave up on her entirely. Lindsay— well, Lindsay has maybe never taken another person seriously in her entire life.
But last night, we finally got to see someone outside the circle say these magic words:
Because while Gretchen saw kissing Nina as a fitting and appropriate path to closure and/or getting even with Jimmy, it obviously never crossed her mind that Nina is a person, not a tool. While that moment on its own is totally satisfying, Nina is not Gretchen’s impetus for change. Not even close. Instead, that’s Jimmy. No, Jimmy didn’t “fix” Gretchen (at least not entirely, and not on his own), and a decision to try medication won’t be the final end of her depression. But in making a commitment to be healthy, and by being there for Jimmy, she did take a huge step towards being a happier, more stable person. And she wasn’t the only one.
Edgar has spent the series making himself into Jimmy’s sidekick. He lives to serve Jimmy, and in turn, Jimmy tells Edgar what’s best for him, though of course what he says is best really rarely is. This season, Edgar has also been trying to fit himself into a relationship with Dorothy, who, as Edgar realized, he may be letting control him just as much as Jimmy. So what would be the best solution here? Ditch Jimmy? Ditch Dorothy? Or both? No, Edgar’s act of change was as simple as realizing he got to have a choice, and room for growth, and be able to ask for things or (as he does, repeatedly) “refuse” things.
Lindsay, too, seemed to come through the other side of her pain, possibly finally being ready to commit herself to a loving, healthy relationship. Except it’s all too clear that that type of “normal” relationship isn’t what Lindsay needs; at least not just for the sake of having it. All season, she’s been holding Paul up as the end goal in mental health and emotional and financial stability. It seemed like she had finally turned a corner in committing to not “trapping” Paul with her pregnancy, so that then when they came together in a beautiful karaoke duet mirroring Lindsay’s breakout scene of the season one finale, it seemed like maybe they really did belong together. Except how does their new journey together immediately start out? With Lindsay being relegated to Paul’s sidecar, the Kelly Rowland to someone else’s Beyonce, right back where she started. The difference, though, is that this time she recognizes it.
Jimmy finally hit what may have been his bottom as he reached “Level Three Jimmy Drunk.” On his way there, he ranted about Gretchen, calling her a lemon in an extended metaphor comparing girlfriends to cars, he ruined yet another one of Becca’s events, and he nearly torpedoed Edgar’s relationship. But by the end, by completely destroying himself, he finally made himself vulnerable enough to depend on Gretchen, and to be honest with her, as well as realizing that she may be a challenge, but that he has no interest in a “Monday crossword.”
While the characters didn’t come out of last night’s episode totally different people, it was pretty amazing how much everyone changed, or at least realized their potential to change. Hell, even Becca and Vernon were more honest with each other, and in cutting their baby gender reveal cake together, shared a more tender moment, than we’ve ever seen. This season went so far in such a strong direction, it’s really impressive that they ended up in a place so strong, and so familiar to what the show has always been. It was that perfect mix of hope and despair, with struggling individuals, but with beautiful bonds whose strength they don’t always recognize, but we do. Now that we know there will be a third season, it’s exciting to have no idea where this show might go.