4 Reasons ‘You’re the Worst’ is One of TV’s Smartest Comedies

There’s no shortage of good comedies on TV today. We have everything from the smart political humor of Veep, to the decidedly more family-oriented Modern Family. Holding up the fringe end of things, we have delightfully bizarre offerings like Rick and Morty and BoJack Horseman. Name a comedic niche, and odds are a quality show is currently occupying it right now. When it comes to romantic comedies though, there’s little doubt that FXX’s You’re the Worst reigns supreme.

Having kicked off its third season, the smart, poignant series comes to us courtesy of Stephen Falk, a man most known for his work as a writer and producer on Weeds and Orange Is the New Black. You’re the Worst has been cursed with tragically low ratings throughout its history, having averaged a meager 560,000 viewers in its first season, followed by an even more dismal 200,000 in its second. Even so, it’s managed to garner significant critical praise along the way, keeping it alive as one of the best comedies on TV today. But what makes it a must-watch?

1. A real, honest look at modern relationships

You're the Worst - FXX

Gretchen and Jimmy on You’re the Worst | Source: FX

The basic premise of the series follows Jimmy, a down-on-his luck writer and lifelong cynic, and Gretchen, a fellow cynic and general screw-up. But instead of the usual rom-com trope of having two broken people meet, fall in love, and fix each other’s problems, we get an honest look at what would actually happen when two chaotic people collide. Things start with the awkward (and all too real) phase of being too afraid to deal with labels, followed by a steep descent into a co-dependent relationship that only feeds into the flaws of both characters.

The thing is, real-life relationships are far messier than Hollywood would have us believe, and that’s where You’re the Worst becomes the most important rom-com on TV. We get a peek inside a relationship that really could exist in our own world, warts and all. More than that, it ties in the darker pitfalls of coupling off that don’t often have a simple solution anywhere but in a Jennifer Lopez movie.

2. A wicked sense of humor you have to be just a little messed up to enjoy

You're the Worst - FX

You’re the Worst | Source: FX

The humor you see on You’re the Worst isn’t like anything else you’ll see in mainstream comedy TV. The jokes aren’t tied into overt pop culture references, crazy roommate hijinks, or even cute misunderstandings. Instead, we see a large swathe of cringeworthy humor that has you doubting your own morality even as you laugh hysterically.

We see that play out especially in Jimmy’s best friend, Edgar, a maladjusted war veteran trying to figure out his life as a civilian with PTSD. As The New Yorker describes him, “in Edgar’s case the show is daring enough to tease both his tendency to tell horrific war stories and the V.A.’s shoddy treatment of veterans.” The cringeworthy yet frighteningly hilarious writing doesn’t stop there either, giving us two eminently unlikable leads in Jimmy and Gretchen, that we’re also intensely invested in emotionally.

3. Showing us the true face of clinical depression

You're the Worst - FX

You’re the Worst | Source: FX

“This is a comedy, why are we talking about clinical depression,” you might ask. When it comes to depression though, there have been shockingly few, if any, accurate depictions of what it’s like, how it affects both people who have it and their loved ones, and the way it can transform a relationship. You’re the Worst dives in headfirst, giving us what the LA Times calls “the best depiction of clinical depression. Ever.”

At its heart, what ‘You’re the Worst’ understands that most shows, most individuals, don’t, is that clinical depression often functions as a sine wave. There are good times, times when you’re as close to normal as you ever manage, times where it feels like you’re finally free of the shadow of illness that stalks your every move, and you hope those days last forever. But nothing gold can stay and soon you’re suffused with darkness again.

In one of the most heart-wrenching and shockingly true-to-life arcs you’ll ever see in a comedy, You’re the Worst takes us through Gretchen’s silent battle with depression. We see her attempting to stave off its effects with drugs and alcohol, while simultaneously trying to push Jimmy out of her life. Hollywood’s fixation on the “love fixes all” panacea is one of the driving factors behind our society’s collective misunderstanding of what depression really is, and You’re the Worst takes on that trope head-on.

4. It’s fearless in every sense of the word

You're the Worst - FX

You’re the Worst | Source: FX

You’d be hard-pressed to find a high-concept comedic realm that You’re the Worst hasn’t covered. The AV Club runs us through the list, describing the show’s focus on “paralyzing insecurity, cynicism as a natural check against oppressive societal optimism, complacency breeding spiritual death, the compromise of ego for the betterment of a collective,” and plenty more.

These aren’t topics you’ll see anywhere on a network comedy, much less anywhere else on TV right now, making it that much more important that You’re the Worst continues to exist. So when the show returns to FXX on August 31, tune in, keep it alive, and help guarantee at least another season of one the best comedies television has to offer.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest

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