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‘You’re the Worst’ Boss on Season 4: Incremental Growth and Friends with Benefits

SPOILER ALERTDo not read if you have not watched “It’s Been,” the Sept. 6 two-part premiere of “You’re The Worst.” 

FXX comedy “You’re The Worst” has returned with a two-part season premiere that saw its core characters separated. The first half-hour was focused on Jimmy (Chris Geere), who had run away (literally!) from his problems after realizing he wasn’t ready for longtime girlfriend Gretchen (Aya Cash) to become his “family.” The second half-hour focused on where the three month time jump found Gretchen, as well as her best friend Lindsay (Kether Donohue) and Jimmy’s best friend Edgar (Desmin Borges).

“It felt like we wanted to deal with the aftermath of the event, of the betrayal, but it felt like if you wanted to do that properly, you needed time to marinate,” showrunner Stephen Falk tells Variety. “If you did something so horrible, you would need time to run and hide from it.”

Falk talks with Variety about where the fourth season of “You’re The Worst” will find Jimmy and Gretchen now that he is finally ready to win her back, as well as what it means that Edgar and Lindsay finally slept together.

Is there temptation to tell more of the missing three months through flashbacks this season?

Not really. I think just leaving them for three months and finding them again tells that story in its own way. I don’t think there’s a lot of mystery. We wanted to show how they would handle this horrible event and what would an extreme version of that be. For both of their cases it was literally not going home. She would go to her girlfriend’s and stay there, that felt interesting, and for him, he just kept driving and turned off his phone. He was so scared, like when you hear little kids get caught shoplifting and run away from home. He’s trying to make a new life, until his real life finally finds him. I think we’d only do flashbacks, like we did in season one, if we needed to fill in gaps in a holistic story way. But we know in this first episode we’ve told what’s happened to them.

It’s bold to open the show solely on the one who did the horrible thing, but throughout the premiere Jimmy actually does things for himself and others and seems to become a better person. How much of that is genuine growth that will carry over to the real life to which he is returning?

I would say maybe a little bit, but I think character growth should probably be incremental, if at all. People don’t usually change overnight, and if they do, it’s a put-on. Whether you make a big swing or not, you’re always kind of the same person. So I would say having to deal with this old guy who probably shouldn’t drive anymore and having to deal with these people who are so outside of his normal world, he doesn’t really care, but he’s kind of forced to care a little bit. So he does something nice, but he does it in a selfish way. It felt like a good penance to watch Jimmy go through this thing, kind of do something nice, and then it felt very in character for him to go, “Oh yeah, I did something good, I’m going to give Gretchen a shout.”

And the way he reached out to Gretchen was a very old-Jimmy way of doing things.

It’s the worst thing you could do after you completely betray and humiliate someone, wait three months, and not say, “Hey we need to talk” or “I’m a horrible person, I would love the opportunity to explain myself, and I hope you will give me the chance.” Instead, he just basically goes, “‘Sup, girl?” It’s the s—iest thing.

How will Gretchen react to that text? 

Gretchen is someone who doesn’t feel like she has an agency in her life. She’s not a “do-er” of things. There’s a scene in an upcoming episode where Lindsay literally asks her what she’s going to do about something, and she says, “Well, I’m not really a do-er, I’m more the ‘I forgot to get them a wedding present, so I’m just not going to be friends with them anymore’ kind of person.” She lets things happen to her. I think rather than “What am I going to do?” she would wonder what is going to happen to her next. She follows what people want from her.

Since Jimmy has been gone and Lindsay is busy building a career, will that finally force Gretchen to start leading her own life instead of following them?

She’ll find other people to make decisions for her. And we’ll see why. We’ll see more of her family of origin, which is instrumental in what she became and why. We’ll really see the depths of how little agency she feels she has, which I think is very frustrating to people in her life and maybe even to viewers, but which I think is very true to life. She’s strong in some ways but then also in other ways, she’s really not. So we’re going to see a little bit more of Gretchen be a bath toy that just bobs around.

Do you want the audience to root for them to get back together at this point, or to just root for them individually?

We’ve always sought to be a traditional rom-com, so my goal has never been to pull the rug out from under the audience or to make them sad. And a lot of people were angry and bummed out after last season. My philosophy is always that characters have to behave in surprising but inevitable ways, so I think we’ve told people upfront that we’re following a relationship, but there’s always a danger. We tell it with the theme song! But my goal is not to make people think love is not possible.

On the flip side, both Lindsay and Edgar seem much healthier and are succeeding in many ways. Can they keep up that momentum, or is a big crash coming?

Obviously nothing should ever be completely easy for a character because without conflict there’s no story, but while I like that idea, I don’t want to let Edgar and Lindsay become real adults for the first time and then slap them down for their sins against the show. If anyone’s growing, it is them. But it’s always, again, incremental and two steps forward, three steps back.

What is the status of their relationship now that they’ve slept together?

What was fun for us was to explore the idea of “Can you just be friends with benefits? What would it take for two people to do that and neither catch feelings?” It started to feel like if anyone could, Lindsay and Edgar who are both very straight-forward people and are both in a really good place, focused on something else, could they just bone and be okay? Clearly they’re kind of seeking each other for comfort when the normal order of their lives has been upended, so it’s a confusing time, and maybe any port in a storm, but for them to go “Can we do this? Are we okay? I think so,” that felt like a good reward for the characters.

How important are their new work lives this season?

I think it’s really important. Certainly for Edgar, I never wanted to tell a story about a veteran and that’s all he is. I think a central tension we can’t ever get away from, because he can never really get away from it, is the idea of a veteran trying to define himself by more than just being a veteran, while at the same time not allowing the world to forget about it. It’s too easy [to forget]. Our government does, pop culture does, we ignore them because it’s hard. And with Lindsay, we watched her deal with the fall-out of doing what she thought she should in marrying the staple, boring guy. It was three seasons of that, and finally she extricated herself, so we’re going to see this season Lindsay trying to get to the bottom of why she is the way she is and getting to that in a very direct way.

And what’s the status of Sunday Funday? Last season characters said they were doing their last one, but will something happen to change their minds?

I won’t say it’s the final one forever, but for this season we’re true to our word. It just felt like “Slapsgiving,” like we were just doing it because people were waiting for it. We didn’t want to do it just for the point. And they’re all kind of apart for a lot of the season anyway.

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