You’re the Worst takes a trip into a problematic history

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The latest episode of You’re the Worst is called “Not a Great Bet”, and takes us with Gretchen back to her generic hometown of roads, rebellious teens, meth-heads, dead malls, and a history of self-deception. Gretchen spends literally no time in a room with any of her family, choosing only to lie over the phone, haunt in her empty parents’ house, and finally, watch her new niece or nephew behind protective glass.

In a way, she considers herself above them, an important and cool LA somebody, happy to have left the dead end world of her hometown behind and found an interesting career. But her life is a mess and she’s lonely, despite her new relationship with oddball Boone. Her inability to spend real time with her family leads her more willingly than ever to act out and lash out.

In her old gathered knickknacks, she is reminded of her middle school friend Heidi, who had some form of terminal illness. But after a quick Google search, it is clear Heidi has survived and has bought the local rollerskating rink. In terms of outdated, kitschy things, a rollerskating rink does fit the bill pretty well, and Heidi (now played by Zosia Mamet) reveals it’s not a financial success.

But Heidi is acting oddly, quiet and withdrawn, in a way that it’s unclear what’s going on until the very end. Heidi pushes Gretchen to go further and further, but only when she sees her misbehaving in the first place. This escalates from a simple trespassing in an abandoned mall (classic metaphor) to literally sexually propositioning a teenage boy. Although Gretchen makes her “dare” half-jokingly, she wants to be attacked for it.

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Heidi does not oblige, instead asking her to go ahead, as she made a deal. The teenage boy is the victim here, despite appearances. Gretchen is an adult, and she pushed the envelope by kissing a random girl, getting Heidi to realize exactly what Gretchen has become. Heidi reveals as they walk away from an abandoned rental car (an abandonment of adulthood in a metaphor), that Gretchen is the one that left Heidi behind and was no longer a friend.

She was everything to everyone and nothing to no one. Heidi sees in the way Gretchen attempts to reconnect in such a facile and over-the-top inappropriately sexualized manner that Gretchen has gotten even worse. So why does she bother to hang out with her? It’s something to do, really, in a town where nothing happens. Heidi’s life seems happy enough, but we know almost nothing about her family life, if one exists.

In a show called You’re the Worst, we see a lot of people acting badly. Gretchen in this episode sought out and intentionally tried to go down her worst path, terrified as she seemed to be of any confrontation with her family. Gretchen may not have hurt someone like Jimmy hurt her, but this episode showed that she still has issues with maturity and accepting her own past. She fears that nobody will “fight for her” still, but does she even know who she is?

The episode was slow and dreamlike, sad and beguiling. I think Zosia Mamet is a very good actress, which let her show off a subtle, sad performance. It’s not the funniest episode, but it feels important in our understanding of who Gretchen was and who she became. I’m not sure yet whether it will explicitly tie into the other storylines, but it was nice to take a break and see the sadness of just one character for a change.

What did you think of this episode? Tell us in the comments below!

 

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