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'You’re The Worst': “Born Dead” Review

Tom Bunting ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

After a strong finale and a somewhat forgettable second episode, You’re The Worst is back in top form with the strong “Born Dead.” This week’s episode does a great job building on just about every major character while cleverly using the show’s surprisingly strong cast of recurring characters. You’re The Worst might be the most cynical sitcom on television, but “Born Dead” also continues the show’s streak of being one of the most earnest.

Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX
Photo Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

After last week, Jimmy Shive-Overly (Chris Geere) and Gretchen Cutler (Aya Cash) are still trying to make domesticity work without ever acknowledging it. After realizing Jimmy is under the impression she doesn’t have any friends, Gretchen throws a party to reconnect with her old group of girlfriends. Of course, her friends have matured even though she hasn’t. With the exception of the “stereo-stealing Corey,” they’ve all changed and become responsible, much to Gretchen’s horror. The importance of the party is lost to the self-described friendless Jimmy who, in a true fashion, only maintains an Instagram to insult an autistic twelve year old who beats him at video games and to make fun of his ex-girlfriend’s husband, Vernon. It’s great to see Vernon Barbara (Todd Robert Anderson) back this season with the same inexplicable combination of obnoxious frat boy and annoying nerd that made him so hilarious last season.  After establishing his party ground rules (“This is a civilized house. No gang colors.”), Jimmy spends most of the party stuck in a backroom with Vernon.

Meanwhile, Lindsay still tries to prove that she’s over Paul (both him and his new girlfriend Amy are invited to the party), while Edgar continues to pine after her. The new Lindsay-Edgar dynamic felt a little mean last week, but it works much better here: Edgar decides he’s from a lineage of honor (despite coming from, in his own words, “a family of home invaders, identity thieves, and in my Uncle Xavier’s case, the Butt Stabber of San Pascual”) and must ask Paul for his permission to pursue Lindsay. When Lindsay’s Tinder date for the party turns out to be a catfishing nine-year-old, she decides to use Edgar to make Paul jealous. Paul’s continued niceness works best when he’s in contrast with the rest of the character’s abject meanness.  The multiple layers of manipulative misery from the forced Lindsay-Edgar pairing work really great when combined with the completely honest niceness of Paul and Amy.

Pictured: Aya Cash As Gretchen. Photo Credit: Byron Cohen/FX
Pictured: Aya Cash As Gretchen. Photo Credit: Byron Cohen/FX

Specific language and labels are a recurring theme this week. Gretchen wants to throw a party, not a “get-together,” because that’s what old people have. Jimmy doesn’t want “friends,” even though it becomes apparent as the party goes on that he has people who are emotionally connected to him (Vernon and the ten year old neighbor that Jimmy has enlisted as bartender for the night). As the party goes on, Lindsay realizes that, unlike Paul, Edgar, and Amy, she’s not a “nice person,” and feels guilty about manipulating Edgar. Even an increasingly jealous Paul screams at Jimmy that he has a “girlfriend.” The characters of You’re The Worst have always seemed deeply uncomfortable with the prospect of being healthy adults beyond the most basic of surface levels, and it’s really interesting seeing them grapple with these vague-but-defining labels.
More so than last week’s episode, “Born Dead” is a really fantastic introduction to You’re The Worst. It demonstrates all the show’s best qualities: the strong character development, the show’s incredible ability to explore big themes through earnest-without-melodramatic dialogue, the hysterical writing, and the really great acting.  Party episodes are pretty cliché for a sitcom at this point, but the show even uses the familiar setting to highlight the strong cast of bit-players, an asset the show should take advantage of more.  With equal measures of funny and heartfelt, “Born Dead” is this season’s best episode yet.

Episode Grade: A-

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