As much as we’re taught to crave comfort, we’re also taught to fear it. While it comes with feelings of safety, it also can mean stagnation, boredom, or—even worse—becoming boring yourself. So what, then, does comfort mean for You’re the Worst, a sitcom conceptualized around two people falling in love despite their overwhelming reluctance to do so?
Last December, following the finale of the FXX show’s second season finale, Claire Lobenfeld wrote on the Muse that “You’re The Worst has been often celebrated for being the anti-romcom and while the genre has seeped its way into sitcoms via shows like How I Met Your Mother, New Girl and The Mindy Project, the way Worst acts in opposition to them is much less ‘anti,’ and more about refusing to put a veil over the sheer ugliness that comes along with loving someone.”
Lobenfeld’s characterization of the show rings true into its Season 3 premiere, which sees its leads, Gretchen (Aya Cash) and Jimmy (Chris Greere), falling further and further into the terrifyingly throes of boring domesticity. In the a telling scene that opens the episode, the pair, still nervously cohabitating, debate mid-fuck over who gets to come first.
“We can, you know, both,” says Jimmy, suggesting—his voice dripping with insecurity—that maybe, quite possibly, they can orgasm together.
“Like at the same time?,” responds an equally incredulous Gretchen. “Will it be scary?”
Yes and no, it turns out. Learning more and more about each other (like that Gretchen is fluent in Spanish and rarely washes her legs) brings them closer together, but—as any late 20-something struggling to exist in a modern dating world that values casualness over settling down can tell you—such vulnerability comes with significant risk.
“Those words [“I love you”] are like a verbal contract,” Jimmy admits in a rare moment of unguardedness (he’s used to being frank with his opinions, but not his feelings). “They’re like a promise and I am not ready to make that promise.”
But Gretchen, who throughout the episode has been struggling both with getting Jimmy to admit he loves her (something he confessed drunkenly at the end of Season 2) and accepting her own new role as a girlfriend in a monogamous relationship, comes through with a relatively profound epiphany.
“If ‘I love you’ is like a promise, it’s just a promise to try real hard,” she says. “It doesn’t mean you can’t fail.”
But while boring, safe comfort might secretly be what’s best for Jimmy and Gretchen, it’s certainly not what works for everyone. Gretchen’s best friend Lindsay (Kether Donohue), pregnant and reunited with her husband Paul (Allan McLeod), has realized—yet again and quite possibly too late—that domestic comfort (the image of which she’s strived to project since Season 1) is decidedly not for her. Edgar (Desmin Borges), Jimmy and Gretchen’s roommate and a veteran suffering from PTSD, craves comfort more than anything, but finds it completely outside his reach.
It’s all relatively heavy for a half-hour comedy, but subjects like this are nothing new for You’re the Worst’s creator Stephen Falk and the series’ writers, who’ve all been elegantly blending serious issues (last season’s main conflict focused largely on Gretchen’s struggle with clinical depression) with humor in a way that’s neither heavy handed nor flippant since the series’ inception.
Many a sitcom has been touted as rightly reflecting the existence of American millennials, but few have rung as true—at least to my own life, though you might find different—as this one. Everything is miserable, yeah, but it’s also fine.
...At least until it’s not.