You’re the Worst: “Genetically Inferior Beta Males” Season 3 Episode 8 Review

Photo Credit: http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/gretchen-plays-mom-rest-gang-very-funnyyoure-worst-244471

Gretchen finally has a successful therapy session…even if it’s not exactly on her therapist’s terms.

Gretchen’s therapy has been put on the back burner for a few episodes, save for a casual mention here or there about some words of wisdom Justina has given her. This hasn’t really been a problem, since You’re the Worst has been churning out fantastic entries for several weeks now. Still, it’s nice to know that this isn’t a plot thread that’s going to be forgotten. “Genetically Inferior Beta Males” finally sees Gretchen have a therapy session that really sticks…even if it isn’t really a session in the conventional sense of the term.

Funnily enough, the episode begins with Gretchen almost “getting fired,” or kindly asked to leave therapy for good. She isn’t taking it seriously, and mostly just uses her hour to hurl whatever insults she can think of at Justina. Still, Gretchen being Gretchen, she’s not going to be told what to do. After her mother is brought into the conversation, Gretchen bets Justina that she can fix all her fucked up friends using her mom’s rigid parenting skills. It’s a bet that Justina doesn’t accept, but it’s thrust upon her anyway.

It’s clear from the start that this idea is going to blow up in Gretchen’s face. One of the most interesting things about this episode is how gleefully it employs the narrative structure of a typical sitcom. Gretchen’s plan paves the way for three succinct plots that each go expectedly awry. Even though we know where things are headed, however, “Genetically Inferior Beta Males” is still a total joy to watch. We’ve come to know these characters so well that even in the confines of this storytelling frame, they’re still utterly exuberant.

The first plot follows Jimmy and his newfound sense of self. After procrastinating from writing his book by playing “Zoo Entrepreneur,” he’s cut off from the internet by Gretchen, who’s using her mother’s stern tactics to get him to be more productive. Instead, he goes to the reservoir down the way from his home and becomes delighted by the great outdoors and trying new things.

The best part about this plotline is when Jimmy’s new “say yes” mentality lands him as a guest on Vernon and Becca’s podcast “Vernon Down the House.” There’s so much to love here, from the forced radio banter and wacky sound effects to Becca’s mid-episode break to record an advertisement. Also, there’s just the fact that Vernon and Becca, a couple we constantly see arguing, has this secret project together that they both genuinely seem to enjoy.

The podcast makes Jimmy realize that everything he’s been doing for most of his life has been in opposition of his father—including writing. Now that he’s free of him, he decides that the future is bright and he should explore other career options. His first few choices are to be a “master carpenter,” “treehouse architect,” or a “singer-songwriter,” so clearly this will end badly. Strike one, Gretchen.

The next plot follows Lindsay and Paul’s new marital arrangement, and it’s the most progress we’ve seen with this storyline in a while. Paul’s small talk during Lindsay’s time with Raul is ruining the moment for her, so Gretchen berates her into going back to her husband and demanding stricter terms. This backfires as well, as Paul decides to research cuckolding and delves into it even further buy crawling on the ground like a worm and buying a penis cage.

There are so many funny things about this, namely that Paul’s desperation to save this sinking ship of a marriage took him to the point of wearing a penis cage. Allan McLeod’s physical comedy is top-tier, as are his constant moans of pain while Lindsay attempts to have a threesome.

Of course, what’s most important about this plot is that Paul’s commitment to cuckolding leads Lindsay to text Gretchen that she wants an abortion. It’s a stark turn of events, and I’m extremely interested to see how this show handles it (I have a feeling it will be with aplomb). Anyway, strike two for Gretchen.

The final strike is the most important, because it’s the one that makes Gretchen realize that her mom’s method of pushing people toward’s success was probably not the best way to go about things. She walks in on Edgar filming a “Dr. Weed” video—basically a silly YouTube series he started for other veterans since he started self-medicating his PTSD with pot. Gretchen sees this as an opportunity to launch a new career for Edgar and so, using a mix of her mother’s relentless determination and her publicist skills, she gets him an interview with a journalist.

Edgar gives a truly heartfelt speech about the problems with the VA and how, though it’s not a solution for everyone, pot has really helped him with his problems. The next day, it turns out that the journalist was actually a marijuana activist and that Edgar’s interview was edited into a pro-weed propaganda video.

Weed people are, according to Edgar, “worse than people who study abroad or atheists.” His anger at Gretchen (Desmin Borges is great here) is what finally snaps her out of it. She realizes that her mother’s method of helping people isn’t helping them at all. In fact, it didn’t even really help her.

The final scene of the episode sees Gretchen once again storming in on Justina while she’s in a restaurant. This time, though, she actually has a breakthrough and is able to link one of her first depressive episodes to a time when her mother made her feel bad. It’s a poignant moment for Gretchen, and I absolutely loved how comfortable she feels opening up, despite being in a crowded restaurant. You’re the Worst is nothing if not committed to finding humor in dark situations.

“Genetically Inferior Beta Males” might have followed a basic sitcom formula, but it’s characters were still able to break conventions and come off being authentic and three-dimensional. In other words, this show knocked it out of the park once again. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Welcome back Samira Wiley! We missed you!
  • Now that we know that a lot of Gretchen’s problems stem from her mother, I am dying to meet her (and for someone really great to play her).
  • The best part of Jimmy’s day at the park is his fascination with a dog fetching a ball. “You retrieved the projectile! But why?”

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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