12.10.2015
culture

'You're The Worst' Boldly Showcases Real Human Messiness

Season Two veers way outside the half-hour comedy box.

If you tuned into last night's season finale of FXX’s critically adored relationship series You’re The Worst, you’re aware of the insanely bold turn the dark comedy has made in its second season. Namely, [SPOILER ALERT!], the reveal that one of the two main characters, Gretchen (played supremely by Aya Cash), is suffering from actual clinical depression and heavily self-medicates to quasi-function as a human in the world. 

The idea that one of the beautiful lead characters of a popular TV show could turn out to be suffering from long-term, serious (fictional) depression is something I cannot remember seeing in all my viewing years. It’s all too real, completely heartbreaking and, for so many of us, a shockingly personal problem to try to manage honestly within the confines of a half hour comedy. 

Gretchen’s depression is not a problem that’s solved over the course of one, two, or many episodes. We see the people in Gretchen’s life try in myriad ways to “make her happy,” and lift her out of her “funk.” She tells them over and over that this is the real her, not a phase, and there’s nothing they can do to fix her. We, as the audience, see the people in her life turn her depression into an issue about themselves, projecting their own vanity and narcissism through the prism of her illness.

Image via FX

It’s all too real, completely heartbreaking and, for so many of us, a shockingly personal problem to try to manage honestly within the confines of a half hour comedy.

The show also illustrates the common practice of self-medicating, which Gretchen frantically does as her depression rears up. We see her pound alcohol, snort pills, and generally put anything into her body that might bring her some modicum of emotion beyond sheer emptiness.

This hollow feeling is also so beautifully delineated, it should be transcribed into a self-help book. Take, for example, the exchange Gretchen has with her boyfriend, Jimmy, after yet another of his attempts to lightheartedly change her mood: “You need to stop. It's like you have amnesia. Every day you think things are going to be different, and I'll just be happy. Well, maybe you can understand this: I feel nothing. About anything. Dogs, candy, old Blondie records, nachos, you, us, nothing.”

Or, eventually, this: “Jimmy, I'm scraped out. I'm... that car we sent to Mars, flipped upside down so the sun can't reach my solar panels. I've always been able to flip myself back over eventually but... I ran out of times. This is how I am now. And it's not okay with you. Nor should it be.”

You’re not alone if these sentiments make your heart shatter. Almost everyone has someone in their life who suffers from depression and, no matter what, cannot seem to shake it. Years pass, new medications come and go. The disease remains, encapsulating the person “we once knew” and changing them irrevocably.

Image via FX

It’s hard to not feel anger toward someone who is stuck in this place. Oftentimes, the person suffering is the angriest at all. Because their own internal chemistry is fighting against them and it can be a losing battle, much of the time. For a show like You’re The Worst to decide to split this topic wide open, showing the ugly nastiness, selfishness, and mean-spiritedness on both sides of the diagnosis, is bold as all get out.

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