Welcome to Role Call, where we call up TV’s leading ladies to talk about their most vital, memorable, and feminist episodes.
This Tuesday, You’re The Worst star Aya Cash explained over the phone she had only one message for viewers of her cult-favorite comedy: Pray. “Pray to whomever you pray to that we get another season,” she requested ahead of Worst’s season 4 finale, “It's Always Been This Way.” Well, Cash got her wish before the season-ender even aired, as the comedy, about the titular Worst people in Los Angeles, was renewed by FXX for a fifth and final go-around. After a polarizing season that drove the Worsties apart — and sometimes all the way to their childhood homes — “Always Been There” reminds us why is YTW is the best rom-com in the television game. And, that is because the show isn’t afraid to blow up its genre’s conventions while also embracing them like a big glass of Trash Juice after a long, hard day.
The season 4 finale finally gives viewers a satisfying end to its season-long classic rom-com dilemma of Gretchen Cutler (Cash) needing to choose between the ex-boyfriend who abandoned her on a hill after proposing, romantic lead Jimmy Shive-Overly (Chris Geere), and handsome, secretly unhinged, single dad Boone (Colin Ferguson). In the final showdown between the two prospects, Gretchen lets out all of her rage at Jimmy, going red-faced over the fact he “doesn’t get to apologize” for asking her to be his family and then “punishing” her by disappearing for three months. As Gretchen breaks down, Jimmy and Boone compete to prove to their teary love interest, who’s battled depression for decades, she is “very lovable.”
All of this competition doesn’t directly lead to Gretchen choosing one of the sweaty guys, who, she realizes, both have their glaring flaws. No, she says, “I choose… I choose… I choose myself.” Each time, Gretchen’s voice gets a little stronger and, finally, she’s able to breeze past both men and leave Boone’s house. This feminist move would be the expected cliffhanger to hang season 4 on. Yet, as Jimmy accepts a disappeared Gretchen’s choice and prepares to drive away from Boone's house, she runs into the street to reveal she’s ready to be with Jimmy.
You can’t actually make a feminist or not feminist choice — feminism is about having the choice.
It’s easy to criticize Gretchen’s fast romantic role reversal, but Cash sees her character’s choice differently. “I’m about to sound like a real douchebag,” the FX actress jokes, “But, Rainer Maria Rilke said this thing about how you can’t have two halves to make a whole. You have to create something outside yourself. You have to be whole.” Gretchen finally makes herself whole by seeing she is worthy of love, and choosing a partner simply because they picked you is a “a pretty low bar,” as Cash puts it.
“That’s what Gretchen is learning,” Cash continues. “And, honestly, the reason I think she can choose Jimmy immediately after that is because she chooses herself in the moment before.” Finally, with clear eyes, she can see she genuinely wants to be with Jimmy, with whom she now has a leverage thanks to her newfound self-worth; that’s what makes the reunion empowering. “For me of course it’s feminist because feminism is about being able to choose,” Cash explains. “You can’t actually make a feminist or not feminist choice — feminism is about having the choice in my mind.”
Yeah, but wasn’t it all really fast? It’s part of “artistic license,” the actress says.
Speaking of artistic license, it’s shocking to see You’re The Worst end with Gretchen sporting her engagement ring moments after she hops into Jimmy’s car, slaps him for his terrible behavior, and kisses him. It’s hard to figure out where the music publicist was hiding the ring this entire time. “Let’s call it artistic license unless there’s a vagina pocket that’s been keeping it in for the entire season,” Cash says with a laugh. “In my mind she’s kept it on her because it means something to her. She can’t quite let it go.”
Although seeing our leads end the season back together and debating the benefits of an October wedding seems predictable, the road to reconciliation was a tough one, with a few near-reunions, some puke-drenched hookups, and that one time Gretchen “finger-bombed” Boone’s ex-wife Katherine (Lucy Montgomery), as Jimmy says. It was You’re The Worst’s least rom-com-y move, since the series naturally runs on the chemistry of its core couple. Cash admits the choice was “a big risk,” adding, “People will go with it or they won’t, but I don’t feel like our writers ever make the safe choice.”
That outlook was on full display during the mostly-silent driving scenes of “Always Been There,” where Gretchen and Jimmy get “closure,” as Cash describes it, without words. At this point Gretchen is pretending she has a future with Boone, but, her unquestionable compatibility with Jimmy is showcased not by something average like them finishing each other’s sentences. Rather, as Gretchen sticks one leg out of the open convertible, resting it on the top of the passenger door, Jimmy, who is driving, does the same on his side. It’s the quietest way possible to see these two mirror each other and also illustrate they’re both kind of menaces to society. No one should be supporting that kind of vehicular danger, but, these two will. With the golden hour vistas and ocean sounds, the duo’s solo scenes are all loaded glances, feelings, and very few words.
We can continue to expect the unexpected for You’re The Worst’s final season, airing on FXX in 2018. While Cash agrees a wedding, which would throw together the gang and their various bonkers families, “would be really fun,” we shouldn’t pencil the Cutler-Shive-Overly nuptials into our TV calendar just yet. Cash recalls when YTX creator Stephen Falk attended a reading of the screenplay she’ll soon direct, he had one major note towards the end when a big choice came up: “Don’t go with the expected.”
“I think he’s not interested in doing something we can guess,” Cash muses of her show’s future. “So, honestly, if I could guess it, it probably won’t happen.”
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