Stephen Falk’s criminally underrated “You’re the Worst” enters its final season promising a happy ending to the story of its two narcissistic, vulgar, blowhard protagonists. However, anyone who has been following the show since its inception will be holding their breath. After all, if there is anything we know about these characters at all at this point, it is that they are prepared to eject at any moment.
The season premiere does not assuage nor deepen these concerns but rather creatively sums up everything about the show to this point. We flash back to the ’90s, where a video store owner and amateur filmmaker Jake (Morgan Krantz, “Neurotica”) meets fellow cinephile, Gemma (Caitlin McGee, “I’m Dying Up Here”), browsing the “Staff Picks” section of his store. They immediately hit it off, exchanging snappy banter and revealing a shared desire to see an extremely rare French film called “The Intransigence of Love.”
Roughly ten minutes into this picturesque meet-cute, it turns out this budding love story is an entirely fabricated one, with our protagonists Jimmy (Chris Geere, “Ill Behaviour”) and Gretchen (Aya Cash, “Fosse/Verdon”) attempting to create a compelling fiction about how they actually met while guzzling down the complimentary alcohol. Falk’s writing lovingly skewers ’90s movies, as well as general romcom tropes, but it also seems to admire them. He understands the universal desire to continue making these types of films and to articulate the intense emotions stemming from a special romance, but as he has always shown, he believes that such romances are much more multifaceted than they are usually portrayed and also deserving of a more true-to-life treatment.
Although the couple themselves would surely despise anything remotely resembling the tropes of the rom-com genre, their real moments of sheer sweetness (e.g. Jimmy’s support during the worst spell of Gretchen’s depression) that have led them up to this point in their relationship are just as important. Sure, Gretchen and Jimmy are terrible people; they both have run out on each other and have broken each other’s hearts in cynical fashion. Perhaps more so than any show on TV, the show never backs down from showing the ugly, messy side of modern relationships. However, Gretchen and Jimmy have also made real sacrifices for and have come to understand each other more than anyone in their lives.
The second half of the season opener returns viewers to the rose-tinted flashback world of “Jake” and “Gemma,” with Jimmy and Gretchen actually playing their invented personas. After a brief reunion at a New Year’s Party, Jake and Gemma are separated for a while before a dramatic scene at the “Le France” film festival, in which Gemma, now an acclaimed director, is winning an award. Out of nowhere, Jake arrives at her press conference to ask a question about where she got her first film camera, and before long, the two fall in love all over again. Enter a brief interlude including a confrontation with a portly French film professor, which yanks viewers out of the reverie, back to the real world. The story gets hastily wrapped up as Jimmy and Gretchen decide to barge out of their meeting.
Their final conversation reveals the crux of the episode. While they have been too embarrassed by their actual love story to ever tell it to any of their current companions, it is the only one that actually feels real. “You’re the Worst” has always celebrated the gloriously ugly journey the couple has taken, and in this final season, it will be exciting to see whether they can finally commit to it.