‘You’re the Worst’ Switches Gears With a Promising Start to Season 4

From its inception, “You’re the Worst” has never been a show to follow the rules. After all, the show’s main couple Jimmy (Chris Geere) and Gretchen (Aya Cash) meet outside the former’s ex’s wedding, him practicing a list of pre-meditated heckles written for the occasion while she walks out of the festivities with one of the wedding presents under her arm. Think of it as the meet cute from hell. These offensive monsters are wrong for pretty much any human relationship, not to mention society in general; yet, they’re somehow perfect for each other. The show revels in such awkward unions, where abhorrent individuals manage to charm each other before their self-destructive tendencies quickly unravel the goodwill they had amassed. Untangling and re-tangling such Gordian knots is the show’s sweet spot.

This leads us to the million-dollar question posed at the end of season three: could Jimmy and Gretchen possibly recover from his most selfish, impulsive and self-destructive act of defiance to-date? After proposing to Gretchen at the top of the Hollywood sign, Jimmy goes to his car to get them a sweater (“to have sex on,” of course), but then simply drives away. Seemingly, if there were one hurdle that these two unlikely romantics wouldn’t be able to surmount, this would be it.

Well, season four’s premiere toys with the viewer’s desire to receive an immediate answer to that question. Instead, we open with Jimmy, completely shut off from his former life and residing in a retirees’ motor park community somewhere in the deserts of San Bernardino. He supports himself doing odd jobs around town, which is totally contrary to the manicured, pompous, verbose Mancunian we’ve gotten to know over the past three years. He avoids electronic communication, including his switched-off cell phone, which leers at him from a desk covered in junk. His lone pleasure – aside from the occasional karaoke night at the local dive – is sipping whiskey and watching outdated shows like “The Fall Guy” and “L.A. Law” with his grizzled septuagenarian friend Burt (Raymond J. Barry).

On the other side of the state, Gretchen is hardly doing any better. The audience first sees her frantically greeting her best friend and emotional prop Lindsay (Kether Donohue) while toting a bag of crack rocks. Gretch later reveals that she hasn’t left Lindsay’s apartment since Jimmy jilted her – exactly three months and two days ago by her recollection – because she’s afraid she’ll run into him. Even after they learn that Jimmy isn’t in L.A., Gretchen struggles to leave the apartment even for an evening, and winds up bothering Lindsay at work instead.

Having the two main characters start off the season in geographically distant but emotional similar spaces seems to be pointing toward one thing: a chaotic reunion. From an emotional perspective, they are both hiding, Jimmy in the desert and Gretchen in Lindsay’s apartment. Both are eventually forced out of seclusion, Gretchen by Lindsay’s tough love and Jimmy by a harrowing glimpse of what he could become in Burt. But right as Gretchen attempts to move on by hooking up with a different ex, Jimmy reaches out to her with an enigmatic text message that simply says “Hey…” The show certainly has a Sisyphean task if it intends for the two to reconcile, but creator Stephen Falk and co. have already made their point: Jimmy and Gretchen are catastrophic together, but they’re even worse when they’re apart.

Aside from the main characters, the premiere also weaves in the story arcs of Lindsay and Edgar (Desmin Borges). While Lindsay is flourishing for the first time in her life as a fashion designer’s assistant, Edgar has quickly worked his way up from improv hopeful to professional sketch writer. After whiling away in housewifery and struggling with PTSD respectively, the two come to the realization that they aren’t the screw ups anymore – Jimmy and Gretchen are. The role reversal emboldens them, as they embark on a NSA relationship. This move is certainly a crowd pleaser, since the show established early on that Edgar carried a flame for Lindsay, and fans are likely to root for their success. Knowing this show, however, there’s no telling how long (or if) it will last.

With its fourth season opener, the show proves that it remains as daring as ever and is nowhere near out of ideas. Geere and Cash are a powerful acting tandem, his quiet introspection and sudden verbal assaults perfectly contrasting her 18-different-types-of-crazy vigor. Meanwhile, Donohue and Borges provide a lighthearted contrast while also embarking on intriguing new plotlines, including their potentially fruitful relationship. The show is still out to keep the sentiments as real as possible, while pointing out the absurdities that underlie all human relationships and affection. In short, it’s playing to its strengths, but not playing it safe.

You’re the Worst” season 4 premiered Sept. 6 and airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FXX.