You’re the Worst: “The Seventh Layer” Season 3 Episode 9 Review

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You’re the Worst turns a road trip with two of its most overlooked characters into a surprisingly nuanced examination of traditional masculinity.

I have to admit, I was skeptical going into this week’s episode. Paul and Vernon, though funny in the small doses we’ve been given of them, haven’t yet carried an entire half-hour. Often times when a shoe takes the characters that are resided to being the comic relief and makes a whole story about them, it doesn’t work—the episode is all one-liners with no real weight or story.

Still, You’re the Worst is not your run-of-the-mill sitcom. This series has already proven that it can take well-worn concepts and make them feel fresh and modern. “The Seventh Layer” is another example of this, as an episode that could’ve easily been a total drag proves to be authentic and heartfelt…while also being totally hysterical.

Truthfully, this might be one of the only meditations on fatherhood and masculinity that also features two men furiously masturbating into a campfire. But such is the style of You’re the Worst. One minute you’re laughing at the absurdity, the next minute you’re hit over the head with a dose of reality.

“The Seventh Layer” follows Paul and Vernon as they go on a small road trip to pick up a bassinet for Vernon and Becca’s baby. Vernon’s opening monologue sets the tone for the episode, while also being an elaborate way of haggling with the seller of the bassinet. It works because a) Vernon has had several moments of wisdom this season, and b) he’s at once insightful and selfish by trying to blame his money-slave predicament on his wife’s own unhappiness.

Vernon and Paul’s trip is unexpectedly extended when Paul’s car breaks down; something that aggravates him even further because Lindsay invited Raul over and now he’s not going to be there for it. Lindsay’s cuckolding of Paul has been mostly played for laughs, but “The Seventh Layer” finally allows this put-upon husband to express himself. Yes, the beginning of the season saw him forcing his idea of marriage onto his wife, but now the dynamic has reversed itself and been amplified tenfold.

Things get really interesting when Paul discovers that the reason his car broke down is because Vernon purposefully put diesel fuel in it. His home life isn’t exactly blissful either now that Becca has him on a strict budget and he’s hardly allowed to have fun. If this were a competition of whose marriage was in bigger shambles, it’s safe to say that Paul would win. Still, “The Seventh Layer” doesn’t pit these men’s issues against each other. Instead, they’re able to bond and commiserate.

A lesser show would likely have made the bulk of this episode about these two men complaining about what nags their wives are and how emasculated they feel. As I said before, though, You’re the Worst is not one of those shows. Paul and Vernon’s venting works because it’s less about how terrible their wives are and more about how unhappy they realized they both are. By putting the focus solely on them we get an episode that gives us an honest an refreshing perspective from two characters who’ve been mostly in the background until now.

There’s also the fact that both Becca and Lindsay have done some particularly terrible and selfish things to their husbands, so the venting feels wholly justified. It’s just nice to see a show employ this type of narrative without taking the easy route of female-centric insults.

The episode also smartly justifies Vernon and Paul’s late-night decision to run away to Mexico. The conversation surrounding the idea isn’t about leaving their wives and future children high and dry per se, it’s more about the fact that they don’t think their negativity would be a positive impact on their offspring. Again, a lesser show wouldn’t have been able to sell this as well, but through a mix of the genius writing and Allan McLeod and Todd Robert Anderson’s genuine chemistry, it’s totally believable.

Part of the reason this episode worked so well is because the pairing of Paul and Vernon together is so brilliant in the first place. Paul is a timid square and Vernon is a happy-go-lucky frat boy. Their juxtaposition is played for laughs, but it also works well to get both men out of their comfort zone. Paul is finally able to admit that his wife purposefully stabbed him because Vernon inspires some confidence in him. Vernon, on the other hand, decides not to go to Mexico after all, and though he blames it on the bassinet being stolen while the two of them camped in the woods overnight, it’s clear that Paul has been an influence on him as well.

The episode ends with the two men realizing that they need to take more control in their own happiness. Much like Edgar’s revelation with his PTSD, Paul and Vernon have decided to actively try to make the lives they have better instead of running away from them. There’s no telling how this will play out, but it’s safe to say that watching them at least give it one more shot will be intriguing. After all, who knew that watching these two bozos do things like swim in dirty lake water and jerk off together would be so inspiring? Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Vernon had way too many great one-liners to list here, so I’ll just choose my favorite: “Nah, I can’t get sick. To build my immune system, I lick weird stuff at the hospital all the time. In surg, they say, ‘Scrub up,’ I just fake go through the motions.”
  • Also highly enjoyable: Vernon and Paul’s nicknames for Blizzard smoothies with different alcohols mixed in. Rum = Rizzard. Gin = Gizzard. Wine = Wizzard.
  • Okay, one more Vernon line: “People forget I’m a doctor and that I know shit.”

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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