FXX comedy “You’re The Worst” has broken traditional storytelling format before, namely in the fifth episode of its third season (“Twenty-Two”), where Edgar (Desmin Borges) took center stage and proved the show is truly an ensemble. But the fourth season premiere, “It’s Been,” will toss all rules out the window by dedicating its first half-hour of back-to-back episodes solely to Jimmy’s (Chris Geere) post-proposal journey.
“Stephen asked me to grow a beard, so I knew that A) there was going to be a time jump and B) Jimmy was going to run away,” Geere tells Variety. “And I thought, ‘Of course he’s going to run away!’ He’s not going to turn the car around and try to sort it out, is he? He’s going to take his own self-indulgent amount of time to realize that he needs to take responsibility for his actions.”
After proposing to long-time girlfriend Gretchen (Aya Cash) at the end of season three, Jimmy panicked at her use of the word “family” in describing their relationship. He got in his car and sped away, abandoning Gretchen on the Hollywood hill on which they had just shared a very tender, perhaps even uncharacteristic moment. The fourth season premiere will find her stuck in a state of arrested development, unable to go home or move past the events. She crashes with Lindsay, who Kether Donohue is proud to announce has finally “got her s— together and got her own apartment,” while Jimmy ends up miles away in a retirement trailer park village.
“We’ve seen wild with both of them before, but because of what happened last year, that event has sent them both spiraling into new territory,” Geere says. “It is nice to see Jimmy being as obtuse and belligerent towards elders as he is towards everyone else in Los Angeles. He doesn’t change too much.”
Since Jimmy has been MIA — even going so far as refusing to turn his phone on — Gretchen hasn’t had any closure and doesn’t know where they stand in their relationship. Though the show has explored her bouts of depression, this season, Cash notes, Gretchen starts in more of a manic state.
“Gretchen isn’t going to handle things super well, considering that’s how she normally is. But I feel like she thinks she’s taking care of herself, and that’s the way she knows how. We all have different tools,” Cash says. “She’s still taking her medication, and she’s still Skyping with her therapist, but that doesn’t mean that’s a fix-all. It doesn’t means she’s OK. When you get blindsided like that, I think it’s normal to go down.”
Borges points out that the show is exploring a role reversal for the players this season. “Whereas Jimmy and Gretchen, in the previous seasons, have been the quote-unquote stable ones — at least as stable as you can be within the world of ‘You’re The Worst’ — now the script is completely flipped,” Borges says. “Edgar is on his second season writing ‘Doug Loves Sketches,’ and he’s got new threads, he’s got a new confidence, and him and Lindsay are buds and understand that at this point they’re the responsible ones in the foursome. It can be scary at times but ultimately freeing.”
Lindsay doesn’t just have her own apartment, but also she is interning at Priscilla’s (Kathleen Rose Perkins) fashion house, trying to become a stylist. “A lot of the bulls— is cut out of Lindsay and Edgar’s lives. Lindsay’s not trying to manipulate anyone or get money out of Paul anymore. Her intentions are pure,” Donohue says.
Of course, circumstances can change quickly, but people don’t truly change who they are that fast, if at all. So the characters still have a lot of struggles, and therefore a lot of story, upon which to still embark.
“Externally she has a job and all that but internally she’s still not that healthy, and she’s trying to figure out why. Really I think for the first time, this year, she is doing a real soul search and trying to understand ‘How the f— did I end up like this?’” Donohue says of Lindsay.
For the time being, Edgar doesn’t seem to be experiencing any major PTSD triggers, per Borges, though he notes that the season is “building an under-layer of a possible resurgence of it” based around Jimmy’s eventual return to Los Angeles and the house that Edgar has more fully made his own in his friend’s absence. While Borges is excited to play a more successful Edgar this season, sharing scenes with Doug Benson and Steve Agee as he works on a show-within-the-show, the gritty reality of a veteran who can’t quite shake his life in the service is something he relishes portraying, as well.
“I like to climb the mountain as high as I can and then fall as drastically and quickly as I possibly can,” Borges says. “I think as an actor that’s the [most] fun juxtaposition to play because we get to root and root and root for the character, and then we watch them hit rock bottom, and then we’re rooting for them to dig out of that again. So, we’re always staying on the side of the character.”
The two-part premiere may not be the only episodes that ask the audience to follow the characters individually, though. This season, Geere and Cash both say, the show is exploring the characters individually more than ever before, resulting in less shared screen-time for the once-central couple. Instead, they are pulled in new directions and paired up with new players, starting with Jimmy and Bert (Raymond J. Barry), a grumpy elderly man Jimmy sort-of befriends in the premiere.
“Jimmy will get to a point where he realizes he’s not living in reality, though he says he is, and that’s enough to take him back to LA,” Geere says. “He thinks if he makes the grand gesture of driving back and simply apologizing, then that would suffice, and this season is basically the fact that he is so wrong. She’s not going to let him get away with it.”
Other new faces on this season of “You’re The Worst” will include: Zosia Mamet, who will guest star as an estranged friend from Gretchen’s childhood; Johnny Pemberton, who guests as a new work colleague of Edgar’s; Lou Diamond Phillips, who plays a version of himself, a fleeting father figure to Lindsay, whose mother once dated him; and Colin Ferguson, as someone Gretchen starts dating after the season premiere.
“I assume that [much of the audience] will want us to get back together, but it is interesting where at least my character goes. I think there will be some question marks about whether or not Jimmy is the right person for her, for at least a little while,” Cash says.
These changes reflect the kind of risk-taking, edgy comedy the show has always set out to do, says Donohue. “I think part of the investment in the show is the investment in that boldness,” she says.” I think [the audience] would be disappointed if there wasn’t curveballs thrown at you. Normally we do wait until a few episodes in to throw that curveball, but it’s very Falk-esque to throw [it] out of the gate, too. I think it’s cool. It keeps the audience on their toes. And it keeps us on our toes, too.”
“You’re The Worst” premieres season 4 with two back-to-back episodes on FXX Sept. 6, starting at 10 p.m.