GODDAMNIT, GRETCHEN. GOD. DAMN. IT.
I knew Stephen Falk was going to have a bit of an issue making a romantic-comedy where the main couple shouldn’t be together, but I also trusted him to figure it out in a way that felt artistically honest and satisfying. Or he could have inexplicably written Jimmy off the show entirely, and I would be fine with that (P.S. I’m not here for Jimmy). What I did not expect is that Falk would figure out a way to present Gretchen’s urge to reconnect with Jimmy as completely understandable even as I hate the very idea with a wildly inappropriate passion.
See, in case you’ve somehow missed it, I identify pretty strongly with Gretchen. In no small part because I used to be crazytown-bananapants self-destructive. Although, god help me, I was definitely never as cool (also in my defense, never actually as self-destructive as Gretchen. Never even tried coke let alone Homeless Guy Window Coke. Also never offered to blow a high school kid in an abandoned strip mall when I was a thirty-year-old woman Jesus Christ, Gretchen, what are you doing? (sidebar: she was calling for help, dummy. She desperately wanted Heidi to show she cared enough to not let Gretchen commit statutory rape. Where am I even at in this aside?)) Right. Gretchen and I might both be crazy.
The issue with being slightly self-destructively crazy is not just that sometimes former friends can find the spots in which to really turn the knife (“Not a safe bet”, Heidi?! You fucking bitch. If you were going to rip Gretchen’s heart out, you probably should have just gone ahead and killed her. Finding out that not only does everyone see through your fun, wild facade, but also that you were right to pretend to be someone else because what’s underneath isn’t really that great anyway? My worst fucking nightmare. The fact that Gretchen lived through it means she’s a goddamn beast. Also I’ll stop with the parentheticals now. I promise). Being really, truly, self-destructively crazy means that not only do you not think you deserve to be happy, but that the things that actually make you happy might not be that great for you.
Which means that when Gretchen was trying her hardest to want to be in a more serious relationship with Boone, she didn’t really mean it. I’ll contribute it all to Aya Cash and her I-can’t-understand-why-you-don’t-have-an-Emmy-yet acting, but you could literally see it on her face. She was faking her happiness at being important to Boone, and she knew it. Hence the late night phone call with Jimmy that recreated their first late night phone call a little too pointedly. And that’s where Stephen Falk comes back into play. That son of a bitch knows what he’s doing. He maybe can’t make the audience fall for Jimmy again, but he sure as hell can make us fall for Gretchen falling for him again. I want Gretchen to be happy, and therefore know that she should not be with Jimmy. But I also want Gretchen to get want she wants, and what she wants is him. It’s completely self-destructive, but it’s still what she wants. Who are we to tell her that’s crazy?
(Actually, we’re people who have made it to the other side of this particular form of crazy in one piece. Just come move in with me, girl. We will get you through this together. (Very last one. For real.))