"LCD Soundsystem" represented a bold, risky move, and it totally paid off.
You're the Worst Season 2 Episode 9 was touted as being unlike any other episode of You're the Worst that had aired before it, in promotional materials and by the show's social media.
They certainly weren't exaggerating. It flipped the focus, zeroing in and spending most of its limited air time on two completely new characters, virtual strangers, as we saw Gretchen's unraveling mental state from a wholly new angle. And it was perfect.
I've been wondering when this series will finally be unable to keep besting itself. I keep thinking that one installment was the best of the series, only to have the next match or even top it in quality. "LCD Soundsystem" kept up this pattern, building on You're the Worst Season 2 Episode 8 Halloween shenanigans in a much more somber, intimate affair.
We met Rob and Lexi, the two halves of a slightly older married couple, who are both almost unbearably cool. They are effortlessly cool. Gretchen, at some point prior, sensed that and became totally enamored with them. She followed them around like a lost puppy, marveling at their ability to be married, have a child, settle down, and still seem to retain the happiness of a free, untethered life.
Of course, it wasn't that simple. Hints mounted in heaps and piles over the course of the day in the life of Rob and Lexi, making it clear that Rob at least was fundamentally dissatisfied with his married life, with his adorable daughter Harper and his wife's decreasing pot-smoking.
His outpouring of complaints to a horrified Gretchen, when Lexi and Jimmy stepped out of the room, was moving in that it was delivered in such a nonchalant, eager way that he totally could have just been saying all that in an attempt at making conversation with Gretchen, a fun 30-something with no responsibilities, in a "hey, I'm cool like you!" kind of way. Or he may have totally meant every single thing he said. I'm not sure which is worse.
Lexi also made several remarks about missing "their Largo days" of clubbing, partying, having sex in the bathroom of a venue where Vince Vaughn also was, etc. but it was pretty clear that Lexi at least understood what it really means to grow up and have no regrets about it.
Conventional and scary, hell yeah. But the death of fun? Not necessarily. To be a slave to an idea of coolness is why some of your friends never grow and in the end are actually less themselves. And counterintuitively lead less authentic lives than the buyers-in.Lexi
Her line about the friends who refuse to grow up was really smart and didn't feel preachy. Gretchen seemed really taken with that idea, and it provided an excellent specific callback to You're the Worst Season 2 Episode 3, Gretchen's party episode, where her friends who had moved on and grown up tried to explain to her what that was like. She was resistant, and more aligned with her insane druggy friend Cory.
Even way back when, in the season premiere "The Sweater People," this concern of Gretchen's about growing up and leaving childhood behind has been prominent. It's incredible how we've come to see this fear in a whole new, inherently less comedic light since Gretchen's clinical depression resurfaced.
The really amazing thing about this show is how tragicomic it is. I truly believe that the show remains very funny. Tonally, there has been very little change. Yes, there have been moments of extreme sadness or seriousness, like Gretchen's rant in "There is Not Currently a Problem" and her silent breakdown during this ending scene, but each episode as a whole remains incredibly funny.
Stephen Falk clearly understands what depression is, and what it is not, and that is why Gretchen's arc this season is so astoundingly good. There is a common misconception that depression means you are visibly, noticeably depressed all the time. You have no fun. You don't laugh. You are one thing only and that thing is: depressed.
And while that may be true for some people (obviously, your mileage may vary), that is simply not always the case.
Jimmy provided a fantastic example of someone who just doesn't 'get' depression and has this misconception about it; not out of malice or ignorance, but in the way that he simply cannot fully understand it because he has never been there or experienced it.
He believed that because Gretchen was smiling and having a great time at the haunted house from actual hell that she was 'cured' and that her depression had miraculously vanished, thanks to his loving efforts.
The show, on a larger scale, enacts this idea. The show can sometimes be funny and absurd, because sometimes depressed people are and/or find things to be funny and absurd. It happens.
I miss our Largo days, Sandwiches. Don't you? Our Largo days.Gretchen
Gretchen can do the silly, ridiculous things that she did in "LCD Soundsystem" like feed a dog nachos and then steal it, pretending to be Lexi at a park and freaking out a stranger with her faux-overshare and it can be funny and scary and genuinely upsetting and emotionally affecting all at once. This is the beauty of the show, what makes it such a unique animal.
This was really all about Gretchen, and for good reason, but Jimmy did make a few memorable appearances and had some of the best lines as usual, in his pompous know-it-all way.
Writing is very seldom actual writing. Maybe on the outside it looks as though I'm drinking and playing darts and eating craisins out of the box in my pocket, but this is part of the process. It's all writing. And I need you to respect my process.Jimmy
There was that time where Jimmy voiced every ridiculous thought that I've ever had about the writing process, and really underscored how asinine it was. That was pretty hilarious. His complaints about the writing process and the way that he ragged on TV writers were fantastically meta.
Jimmy's punishment-based writing system was also a great minor subplot, though it got basically zero focus in favor of Gretchen/Lexi/Rob things. Which I'm okay with, for now. Sometimes, a show with multiple protagonists really needs to zero in on one, for greater artistic purposes, and now was one of those times.
- Literally zero Lindsay and look! I'm not even complaining about it. That's how good this was, you guys.
- We got a half a second of Edgar with Jimmy at the bar but I think I honestly would have preferred he be absent entirely like Lindsay. Hate to see him relegated to the side like that and it makes me wonder what the point of his appearance even was.
- Was anyone else terrified that the dog would somehow die from the nachos Gretchen had fed it? Talk about tragicomic. Luckily, Sandwiches made it out in one piece and did not wind up staring at the inside of a coyote.
- Will we see Lexi and Rob again? Do we want to?
- I'm not a stickler or big believer in awards, but Aya Cash needs some kind of widescale recognition for what she's accomplished so far this season. Incredible work.
What were your thoughts on "LCD Soundsystem"? Did you like the narrowed, one-off focus, or did you miss Lindsay, Edgar, and all the other randos too much to appreciate it? Share your thoughts by commenting below and remember that you can watch You're the Worst online here at TV Fanatic if you've missed anything.
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.