You're the Worst has no shortage of compelling, memorable characters.
The "core four" - consisting of main couple Gretchen and Jimmy and their respective best friends Lindsay and Edgar - are at the center of a fictional universe replete with more amazing recurring "randos" than you could shake a stick at.
Kether Donohue's Lindsay Jillian has been a fan-favorite ever since Gretchen's ditzy BFF burst onto the scene with her unabashed goofiness, over-the-top behavior, and hilarious one-liners in tow.
In a recent Q&A, Donohue discussed whether the series can be considered a rom-com, how she views her character in Lindsay's "worst" moments, and the importance of women like Lindsay being shown on television.
On what sets You're the Worst apart from other romantic comedies:
I absolutely think it is Stephen Falk’s unique twist on the genre. I think it’s a really fresh take on romantic comedies because typically in romantic comedies you can kind of predict what’s going to happen and the characters are kind of cookie-cutter and kind of surface and in You’re the Worst what sets us apart is that no character including the supporting characters, which is pretty revolutionary in my opinion, nobody stays surface, everybody is a complex multifaceted human being and [the show is] not afraid to show darker sides of life and what goes into sustaining a romantic relationship because relationships are hard work and we don’t normally see that in the genre, typically speaking.
On her view of her character:
Rule #1 of acting, in my opinion, and this is what a lot of acting schools teach you is never judge your character, so from the moment I got the pilot script when I was first auditioning for the project [I had that mentality]. My audition scene was Lindsay in the pilot telling Gretchen that she blew four guys at her high school reunion. So obviously, y’know, when I saw that I was like OK, don’t judge this character. Every human being has reasons for doing what they do and saying what they say and one of the honors and joys of playing Lindsay is that – externally, on paper, she does the most awful things! Especially as we saw [You're the Worst Season 2] Episode 4, when she stuck a turkey baster up her vagina to artificially inseminate herself with her ex-husband’s sperm, I mean that’s pretty bad. [laughs] But as an actor you can’t approach playing a character like that by judging them. I think the worse things someone does, the more compassion as an actor you have to have for that character.
On women in the media:
When I was a student at Fordham University, my major was Communications and Media Studies and one of the most powerful things I took out of that experience was learning that you can either put things out in media that reinforce dominant ideologies or you can put out content in media that challenges those ideologies. And being a female, just what I grew up with, I was surrounded by girls with eating disorders and I know people who have been sexually abused and I know that all of these issues go hand in hand with the images of women that are presented to us in media. I think it’s crucial and necessary to show women on TV who are not a size 0. And that’s not to put down women who are naturally thin because that’s also not something I’m trying to do either. It is necessary to have a more diverse “palette” of women’s bodies in television and I am very passionate about that.
On Lindsay’s arc this season:
Lindsay’s motivation right now is more driven by “Oh shit! I’m alone. This has never happened before and nothing’s going my way.” So when you’re in a position like that you’ll just go to any lengths to get your life back to the way it was. Hence why she shoved a turkey baster up her vagina [laughs] When something in your life happens that’s chaotic, you do whatever you can to tie things in a bow and get them back to normal. That’s really not happening for her, she’s really not able to get things back to the way she wants.
Lindsay’s journey of learning how to be by herself is explored in detail and in depth and there’s hilarious moments of that and also really sad moments. Because it’s kind of sad that at times she can’t even do things that like a five year old would know how to do. But that’s the hope, the hope is that she will be able to forgive herself and come to terms with the hurt that she’s caused people in her life and hopefully be able to redeem her dignity in some way.
On her friends’ and family’s responses to the show:
What’s awesome for me, and the highest compliment that I could receive from a friend, is when a friend tells me, “Hey, Kether, if you were not on the show, I’d still watch this.” For me, that’s the test. Obviously, I have very supportive friends and for years and years they’ve tuned into projects I’ve been on to support me. And what’s really nice is that my friends aren’t tuning into this to support me, they’re genuinely tuning in because they like the show. And it’s really cool! It’s the highest compliment I could receive from a friend.
On what the Los Angeles setting adds to the show:
In our minds, New York has this realness to it and this cutthroat, no-bullshit attitude, and stereotypically L.A. is kind of known for phoniness, so what I think is cool is the juxtaposition between the kind of superficial image we have in our heads of L.A. that everything’s fine and dandy all the time, against these gritty characters that are very New York at heart, so to speak. The characters are not at all what you think of when you think of L.A. The characters are so raw and so real and just no-bullshit, but they’re in this town that profits off of the bullshit.
On Lindsay’s begrudging respect for Paul’s new girlfriend Amy:
A lot of the questions that the cast gets is “How does You’re the Worst set itself apart from other romantic comedies?” And I think [Lindsay’s respect of Amy] is one of the examples of what makes our show fresh. So, for example, in a lot of comedies or generic romantic comedies, if someone’s boyfriend cheats on them or is with another girl, stereotypically the two girls get into a catfight and the ex-girlfriend is mad at the new girlfriend. What’s cool is that because [show creator] Stephen Falk is a feminist and he’s so open-minded, he chose to not make Lindsay and Amy enemies. But rather it’s the first time you see the compassion that Lindsay has.
On who she’d like to share more scenes with:
Lindsay and Jimmy didn’t have as many scenes together [last year] and so this season when Chris [Geere] and I got to work together it was really awesome and we enjoyed that experience. Also I love working with Todd Anderson (who plays Vernon)—he’s just such a hilarious, professional, spontaneous, authentic actor and I love doing scenes with him. And I think Lindsay and Vernon are just hilarious when they get together.
On Lindsay’s future “musical adventures”:
Lindsay will be singing twice. There will be some rap music and there will also be some really nice music along the lines of “This Woman’s Work.” I can’t say what context either of the songs will be, but both musical adventures of Lindsay are awesome and I know the audience will really enjoy both of them.
On her background in theater:
I think there’s a saying where theater is kind of where you learn how to act and it’s an actor’s medium and I would agree with that on a lot of levels. I’m from New York, born and raised, and when I graduated college my first job right out of college was this off-off-Broadway show.
I love the stage because there’s no editing and you have to keep it fresh every night. If you suck on a Wednesday and your friend comes to the show, you can’t be like “Oh well, I was really great last night on Tuesday.” The theater really forces you to be in the moment and be fresh from beginning, middle to end of the play. When you’re doing TV or film, you can have a great take the first half of the take but maybe the latter half of the take is not as great but the editors are geniuses and they can help you out a bit. I think the theater keeps actors sharp.
On her dream theater role:
Oh my god, there’s so many! I love “A View from the Bridge,” I would love to do something from “A View from the Bridge.” I love the Shakespeare play “Measure for Measure.” And it’d be really cool to play Lady Macbeth one day [laughs].
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.