October 21, 2015, 10:30 p.m. (EST), FXX
People don’t come with all parts included. We all of us have flaws, imperfections, chinks in our armor. Sometimes, growing up is a matter of fixing those flaws, of kicking bad habits and learning how to minimize your worst tendencies. But sometimes, it’s a matter of understanding that which cannot be fixed. Sometimes, it is about the recognition that not all problems have solutions. Some problems we just have to bear. Some storms we just have to weather. You can’t walk through life as if you are entitled to only sunny days. You didn’t sign up for it, but that’s not what you’re in for in this game. You have to take the good with the bad, both in yourself, and in others. You might be able to kill one mouse, but there’s always another on its way.
“There Is Not Currently A Problem” is not just the best episode of You’re the Worst this season, but among the very best episodes of television I have seen this year. It is simultaneously the show at its comedic and dramatic best, a fall down funny episode that packs the punch this season’s lesser entries have been missing. It’s a bottle episode (any readers who followed me from Review to Be Named know I have a soft spot for that form) that packs a large swath of the ensemble in Jimmy’s house, throws out a wide variety of runners that have the meat of whole subplots, but still manages to focus on Gretchen, how weighed down she is by her depression, and how hard she fights against admitting it to herself or anyone around her. Even when she admits it to Jimmy at the episode’s end, she says she knows how to handle it. But as we’ve seen over the past few weeks, she can’t handle this facet of herself, not entirely. No one can. It isn’t a weakness of Gretchen’s, nor chance for Jimmy to ride in on a horse and save her. It’s an immutable fact with which both will have to contend.
This is a stunning episode of television from beginning to end. Every little beat of it works so well it blew me away, from Jimmy’s complete ignorance of The Lion King to Dorothy’s complete unwillingness to be rebuffed by everyone in the house’s obvious distaste and hostility (Jimmy’s face when he sees her in the house is absolutely priceless, as is Gretchen’s immediate diagnosis of her as a “theater girl.” The episode’s setting during the LA marathon allows for a lot of spot-on jokes about the City and its culture (my favorites were “It’s the worst driving day in Los Angeles.” “Is it sprinkling?” and the entire group’s laughter at the idea of walking, culminating in Jimmy’s phenomenal impression of a New Yorker: “What are we, New Yorkers? ‘Come on, let’s walk, and get a pizza bagel with Mayor Guliani!’”), and Jimmy’s mouse obsession is a perfect bottle episode plot (its functionally just “Fly” from Breaking Bad or “Cooperative Calligraphy” from Community, but that means the show is aping two of my favorite bottle episodes). But one of the smartest things about “There Is Not Currently A Problem” is that it doesn’t lean too heavily into anything. Every character has something going on, but Gretchen’s struggle is given room to breathe.
It culminates in Aya Cash’s finest moment on the show to date, a searing monologue in which she tears into everyone in the house. It’s kind of an obvious beat, the sort of moment episodes like this frequently build to, but she plays Gretchen’s disgust so wonderfully and leans into every turn the speech takes. It’s even peppered with great subtle moments of interaction. Jimmy’s “aww shit” when he realizes he is not immune to her tirade is great work from Chris Geere, but the way Cash blows right past it is just incredible. But the speech wouldn’t come off as well as it does if every character she addresses wasn’t so well realized. On the surface, she is right about Edgar’s PTSD, Dorothy’s improve crutch, Vern’s fratty worthlessness, Lindsay’s vacant uselessness, and the Jimmy’s pretentious martyr complex. We know all this. But we also know more about each of these people. We’ve seen enough of the good that it stings when she points out the bad, even in Vern, who is basically immune to the insults. Gretchen decries the “completely beyond her control wiring issues” in her old apartment, but its all too clear those are as apt a metaphor as the mice that plague Jimmy’s house. This show works as well as it does not because it is subtle in that department, but because its obviousness is only clear in hindsight, when it hits you like a truck.
The episode’s ending is the second straight stinger that just blows me away. Chris Geere’s reaction to Gretchen’s confession communicates terror, concern, and then a firmly installed brave face all within about five seconds, and as Jimmy says the wrong thing in the right way, we see that, unlike last week, he gets it. He knows he won’t catch this mouse. But he loves Gretchen enough he can’t stop trying. That doesn’t make him right, but it does say something good about him. Yet Gretchen has come to terms with a core facet of herself this week, and with the fact that she can’t deal with it. We’re all of us broken, and none of us can really be fixed. We’re all human, and there’s no manual in existence for our condition. All we can do is learn to be in the world as who we are, and learn to lean on the people we choose to be in it with. We won’t find all our missing parts in one another. But we may find a way to stay standing anyway.
- “Fine! Then you’re not allowed to talk about random dogs you see!”
- “It’s Sunday, why are you showering?”
- “So would you say it’s a problem free philosophy?” “Well, that’s a tad simplistic.”
- “Gretchen’s a lunatic of whom I should be profoundly ashamed, and yet I’m fine with it.”
- “She makes me put the seat down when I pee!”
- “I napped in a sunbeam!”
- “Bed booze! Why didn’t I think of that?”
- “Shit! I don’t want some whack-ass baby, but I have needs!”
- “He’s kind of my backup side bitch, and he likes it.”
- “We know, you were in a war. Get over it!”
- “Yes, there will be a lawsuit!…There will be no lawsuit.”
- “Wear your stains on the outsides of your clothes, Gretch!”
- “Shhh. Rocket ship to heaven.”
- “Be ok with the fact that you can’t fix me.” “Can’t I though? I got that mouse.”
“There Is Not Currently A Problem” is not just the best episode of You’re the Worst this season, but among the very best episodes of television I have seen this year.