How You’re The Worst Became One of TV’s Best Comedies

You're The Worst creator Stephen Falk talks with us about landing on FX and why the bad guy and girl are so good...

Editor’s Note: We’re diving into best comedies currently on television this week. To see all of our coverage from Den of Geek’s Comedy Week, click here.

After going through a string of women content with spending their mornings snapchatting their way through the line at Starbucks, along comes the one who left the party early and swiped a blender. It’s enough to make you reassess what it is you’re actually chasing.

In television terms, how many painful NBC and ABC rom-coms can a person sit through in a calendar year before jumping ship and landing into the cable-television abyss?

I felt a little dirty bringing FX’s You’re The Worst out in public so soon. Watching it on the train, with 9-to-5ers passing by on their evening commute, I needed to suck in a few belly giggles and turn my computer away from the aisle as a sizzling threesum sequence ended in an eruption… of laughter. At first glance, FX’s unromantic-romantic comedy isn’t hooking in the Ross and Rachel crowd, but miss-matched cynic Jimmy (Chris Geere) and ticking time-bomb Gretchen (Aye Cash) spent an entire season in a will-they-won’t-they for the ages. 

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When You’re The Worst returns for its sophomore season on Sept. 9th–moving from FX to its comedy outpost FXX– it will seek to build on a freshman campaign that found a way to put a crisp spin on every dime-a-dozen relationship trope as seen on (broadcast) television. The premise is two virtually undateable people slowly figure out that misery may love company. It’s hardly a new idea to have a relationship unfold between two people afraid of commitment–How I Met Your Mother recently did it for a few seasons with Barney and Robin–yet You’re The Worst found the right balance between laugh-out-loud funny and clever relationship building to develop into the most promising rom-com we’ve seen in years.

“I wanted to do a British-y, cable-y misantropic version of Mad About You,” creator Stephen Falk told Den of Geek. “ It felt like FX at this time was a place that would be willing to go there with me and allow me to forget about the buzzword likeability, which I heard ad nauseam working for the networks.”

Early in his career, Falk made the rounds at the broadcast networks, writing a number of pilots before landing under the wing of esteemed showrunner Jenji Kohan while writing for Weeds during the backend of its run (he also penned an episode of Kohan’s Orange is the New Black). Falk’s first shot at the helm of a series earned a strong critical response and averaged 1.6 million viewers, a sizeable haul for a cable comedy, but the official word of a season two green light lingered until a few weeks after the season one finale. Still, Falk barely broke a light sweat.

“FX does have more of a history than the network of being patient with their shows,” he said. “I felt fairly confident because we captured a lot of critical steam and the numbers were picking up as the season went on.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58dsSyXR_Mo

In finding a home at FX for You’re The Worst, Falk felt it was the right fit in terms of the trajectory of his career and the current landscape of cable television.

“FX as a network was shown to be one that took risks and to try things,” Falk said. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia should not be left out of here. It was a landmark show. It was three knuckleheads that wanted to create work for themselves and came up with this very unsentimental sitcom that went way further than Seinfeld in terms of its characters being incredibly self-centered and misanthropic. [FX President] John Landgraf took this little crappy video they made and gave them a show and kept it on for years.”

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In many ways, You’re The Worst feels like it was shaped from the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia mold. Like Sunny’s Gang, “likeability” doesn’t necessarily apply to Jimmy and Gretchen, nor does it need to.

“I had a sense that FX would see to what I was trying to do; tell a love story about the dark parts in all of us,” he said. “I don’t think my characters Jimmy and Gretchen are bad people. They’re complex and do bad things. It happened to be after I sold the show that the networks picked up four or five romantic comedies to series, none of which have made it to a second year.”

You’re The Worst will have to prove if it’s a keeper in season two, but for now it has us believing in something like a love story again.

“Romantic comedy as a genre was ready to be reinvented and taken to a different and more honest level,” he said.  

For more on Comedy Week, check out the Den of Geek Presents Podcast…

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