Megan McLachlan talks to You’re the Worst‘s Chris Geere about the brilliantly challenging FXX comedy
It used to be that TV comedies and sitcoms reserved drama for one “very special episode,” after which, everything returned to normal. But FXX’s You’re the Worst threw that concept out the window. In season two, the raunchy romantic comedy revealed Gretchen’s (Aya Cash) depression over the course of many episodes and how it affected everyone around her, including boyfriend Jimmy (Chris Geere).
It’s rare for any series, comedy or otherwise, to address this topic, especially without tying a bow around it at the end of the episode and calling it a day. But You’re the Worst tackled the delicate subject with class, realism, and most impressive of all, laughter. Emmy voters, are you listening?
I chatted with Chris Geere about season two, why it was one of the most challenging moments of his career, and what’s in store for season three, which returns to FXX August 31.
Season two of You’re the Worst on FXX was especially well-received with its depression storyline. Were you a little surprised when you discovered the show was going to go in that direction?
Yeah, I think it was a surprise to combine the word “comedy” with the word “depression.” Actually the bottom line has always been we trust Stephen [Falk] so implicitly that there was never any doubt that it wouldn’t be as accurate and lifelike and funny as it turned out to be. I was so impressed with him and with FX for having the faith in us to do it and to challenge something so serious like that. And I was also just really proud of everyone in the cast. It was great that Stephen gave us all an opportunity to show a real range of acting as well. At the beginning of each episode, it was slapstick-y and funny, and then by the end of it, the audience is crying with us. You don’t get that in many comedies.
You really don’t. And I think you had such a tricky role last season because the focus was on Gretchen with her depression, but you had to be more reactionary as a character that didn’t understand what was going on. How did you approach that as an actor?
That’s so lovely of you to recognize that! Because it was without a doubt the hardest season of TV I’ve ever done. I had to really fight my natural instincts. Jimmy’s doing what a typical man would do, and what I would do as well. He tries to fix the situation. Then he can’t fix the situation, so he automatically goes to the next go-to situation, which is to run away… into the arms of someone else. I had to constantly look at why he was behaving this way. He’s not a bad guy. All this stuff comes from insecurity and a lack of knowing how to handle these social situations.
I think the script, the way that it played out, allowed me to understand what was going on, then really not understand what’s going on, and then be a bit mean. There was a whole range, and I just had to go with it. It was incredibly hard because Aya [Cash] and I, when we’re on set, she’s just excellent. She gives me so much in terms of reacting. But the hardest thing was [when it came to the depression storyline] that I didn’t have any reaction from her at all, because she was so in the zone. She’d be staring at walls or be under a blanket. Or she’d be crying. She’d be texting on her phone in the scene. And I’ve got these two-page monologues going on, and I feel like I’m just doing a scene on my own, because she’s got her own storyline going on. That was really tricky. I think the great thing about Season 3 (which started filming June 20) is that it’s more “Jimmy and Gretchen Versus the World” rather than “Jimmy Versus Gretchen.”
Do you know anything about season three? Can you give us a sneak peek?
Stephen only gives us four episodes at a time, so I only know what happens in the first four. It’s brilliant. It’s gone in a direction that I never thought it would go in. It focuses a lot on the four of us and the relationships developing. We’re evolving in work and in our relationships, and all the problems that come with that are just so funny. I’ve got this speech in episode one, and I’m trying to learn it at the moment. It’s another classic Jimmy rant. There are about 10 words in it that I have to look up because I’ve never heard of them before. I’m a fairly intelligent guy. I have no idea what these words mean! But this monologue, I literally can’t learn it without laughing out loud. It’s so funny.
What I think is interesting about Gretchen’s depression is that Jimmy is a bit depressed himself, especially with his writing and his career. Do you think Jimmy failing to see Gretchen’s depression reflects a bit of him avoiding something within himself?
Absolutely. Aya said before in an interview, which is very true, is that these people can’t do the amount of drugs and the amount of drinking and behave the way that they do without there being some severe demons in there. I think season three is going to explore why Jimmy behaves the way that he does. To be honest, I think unfortunately, in this day and age, there’s a depressive quality to every human being. With characters like Jimmy, he’d never admit to that. He needs Gretchen to be able to show those darker sides of himself. I think there’s an awful lot going on with his relationship with his family. The betrayal they’ve shown to him over the years has made him into the nightmare that he is now. I think the relationship between Jimmy and Gretchen will be much stronger this year because they’ve said those magic words at the end of season two [they said “I love you” in the last episode].
Were you at all nervous that maybe Gretchen and Jimmy were going to break up? I know I was whenever Nina was introduced.
Bottom line is I knew they’d get back together, because we were already talking about Season 3. Ending the season with them apart would be a bit unfair. They had to earn the fact that they get back together. What I was worried about, which later I realized was actually a good thing, was that the audience was going to suddenly hate Jimmy because of what he was doing. Obviously, cheating on her with Nina was a terrible move, but I had to play that as if he didn’t know how to behave. So he did only what he knows best, which is to run away. I’m glad they got back together at the end.
Where do you see Gretchen and Jimmy going? Do you think they’ll stay together?
Yeah, I think they’ll be together forever. But they always have an out. They can always bail at any time. “I’m gonna leave you anyway.” [Like the theme song says.] “We’re going to end up breaking up, so we may as well enjoy being together.” That’s what they’re doing. They’re falling deeper and deeper in love all the time.
Do you think that the show speaks to the Millennial generation? I personally think it’s one of the most perfect examples of this generation on TV.
Yeah, why aren’t more people watching then? [Laughs] It’s so annoying. It’s not that we want to become the biggest comedy of all time. I think it’s really relatable. It’s just been shown in England, and some of my mates back home finally got a chance to watch it, and they said, “This is exactly what British TV needs.” Honestly, I’ve never met anyone who’s said, “Yeah, I’ve watched it. It was rubbish.” They either love it or haven’t seen it. That’s a pretty good average. I think it relates to everyone. It’s a really tricky time at the moment to find love in this world. There are too many options; social media has an impact on that. It’s very hard to find love, and I think this show is a good demonstration of how hard it is.
Catch up with Chris Geere on You’re the Worst on Hulu before the new season starts on August 31 on FXX.