Why Lindsay's Big You're The Worst Mothering Decision Is So Moving & Funny

Photo: Courtesy of FX.
Since the dawn of You’re The Worst, our Worsties have each gotten a moment that deeply humanises them and sheds some light on their actual inner lives. Gretchen Cutler (Aya Cash) received an entire season of this when the FX cult comedy fearlessly explored her clinical depression. Last year, Jimmy Shive-Overly (Chris Geere) dealt with the death of his father, Ronny (David Schaal), in a way that was bracingly realistic. During that same time, we got “Twenty-Two,” an episode entirely from the perspective of Edgar Quintero (Desmin Borges), which shows how the veteran lives with PTSD. Yet, Lindsay Jillian (Kether Donohue) had yet to get her own big, emotionally revealing storyline. Thankfully, that ended with last night’s “This Is Just Marketing,” which saw Lindsay finally find something she loves: her sister Becca’s baby, Tallulah. The episode-long arc is one of the most moving and hilarious moment of the entire series.
Throughout most of “Marketing,” Lindsay is unsure of how to act around Tallulah and at one point agrees the infant “looks like Billy Corgan fell asleep in a jacuzzi.” Despite Tallulah's resemblance to certain members of the Smashing Pumpkins, Lindsay — who we already know was an expert at “Baby Things” from the scenes before she decided to have a matter-of-fact abortion — can’t stop staring at her niece and happily picks her up when no one is looking. It becomes evident just how much Lindsay cares about Tallulah when the baby’s mom, Becca Barbara (Janet Varney), passes out drunk on the toilet, leaving her tiny daughter on the bathroom floor. Lindsay rightly loses it on Becca, tossing her sister in the shower, blasting her with cold water, and demanding to know what the hell is wrong with her. As Gretchen takes care of filling Becca with so much coffee it might “shoot out of her butt,” Lindsay cradles Talulah.
Kether Donohue, who plays the wonderful Lindsay, exclusively reveals to Refinery29 she brought her own friend’s story to her character’s “full-blown survival, mama mode” reaction. When one of Donohue’s pals was still push-me-around-in-a-stroller age, her mother had a problem with her legs. But, the moment this friend almost accidentally tumbled down the stairs in her stroller, everything changed. “Her mom didn’t know what came over her, it was like this primitive, survival instinct, that her legs didn’t hurt anymore. She literally jumped from the steps and caught the stroller in time so it wouldn’t hurt her daughter,” Donohue explains. “I thought about that a lot when we did the Becca scene because no matter what Lindsay’s awkwardness may have been with the baby or the fact that she’s never had a baby, the minute she sees [this] baby is in some sort of trouble, she steps in and fills that role of caretaker.”

"There’s no right or wrong way to be a woman."

Kether Donohue
Seeing Lindsay as caretaker makes a subtle important statement about women: we contain so many multitudes. “It’s nice to have a female character on television that can be a total mess and is promiscuous and, at the same time, oh, she has these really great maternal instincts,” Donohue admits. “And I think that’s really true to women.” That feels especially true when it comes to Lindsay because in the scene before she “does the right thing,” as Donohue puts it, to save Tallulah, she pulls out her breast in the middle of the Barbara kitchen while under the effects of Edgar’s new seduction techniques. Yes, a woman can display NSFW nudity around stainless steel cooking appliances and still be as warm and maternal as the 1950s ideal that was June Cleaver. As Donohue warns Hollywood, "We’re not [so] simple.”
These complexities are what make Lindsay’s episode-closing monologue so special. After Lindsay realises she loves her niece and her little Billy Corgan face, the budding fashionista ponders the fact she’s never felt “real love” before looking at Tallulah. While the emotions scare Lindsay after a lifetime of avoiding them, she recognises the vulnerability that comes with love might be “totally worth it.” Yet, she lands on an unexpected final destination, saying in a voiceover, “I never want to care about something that might go away. So, I choose for my job to be my everything.” This means Lindsay has decided to officially close herself off to big, risky loves like a real relationship or even children out of fear. Instead, she'll stick her career, since she thinks it can never hurt her.
While we’re happy to see Lindsay becoming her most successful self, even Donohue believes this might not be the right choice for Lindsay. “I love [the monologue] so much because I think it’s a commentary on why certain people become workaholics,” the actress says, noting the ambitious choice might look good on the outside, but has a dark side too. “Being a workaholic is also its own form of addiction that people turn to to fill that void of not wanting to be hurt, not wanting to be vulnerable — not even knowing how.” That does sound an awful lot like Lindsay’s decision making process right now, which is why her boss’ response is so important.
In the final moments of “Just Marketing,” it’s revealed Lindsay is actually giving her big speech to hard-working stylist Priscilla (Kathleen Rose Perkins), whom the assistant believes “eats, sleeps, and shits work.” After spending time with Tallulah, Lindsay wants to be just like the supposedly closed-off Priscilla. The only probably is, Lindsay read her boss completely wrong. “What the hell are you talking about?” Priscilla deadpans, explaining she is married with two children of her own and three step-kids. The moment feels like a very funny response to the beaten dead horse that is asking whether women can have it all. Priscilla has some things, like a step-daughter to get Botox with and far too much work, and doesn’t understand why it has to be one or the other.
Now that we’ve finally gotten a peek into Lindsay’s love-free brain — and have seen her confronted with the fact love and success aren’t mutually exclusive — the rest of season 4 seems more exciting than ever for the character. Thankfully, it sounds like Lindsay’s upcoming storyline will live up to our expectations, as Donohue teases in the back-half of the season “the writers take us on a really nice journey of exploring Becca and Lindsay’s childhood.” We’ll meet the pair’s mother, Fay, who will be played by soap star Robin Riker, and their step-father, whose role will be filled by Lou Diamond Phillips.
Whatever "curveballs" creator Stephen Falk throws our way, it already sounds like things will only get better after Lindsay's big, life-changing monologue. “I’m just very grateful for Lindsay’s journey this season because it’s really nice to just play a character that shows all of these different aspects of a woman. And there’s no right or wrong way to be a woman,” Donohue says. “And I just think that’s nice.”
We do, too.
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