I was going to heckle the shit out of You’re the Worst. I was going to walk up right up to its stupid, desperate-to-be-loved-but-would-settle-for-fingerbanging-you-if-you’ll-let-it-sleep-over face and say: ‘You’re the Worst – you’re the worst.’ Then I was going to laugh. ‘Ahahahaha’, I would say, ‘Ahahahahahahah-hahaha’.
My original idea for this piece was that You’re the Worst is not as good as its own theme tune, ‘7.30AM’ by Slothrust. That song captures everything that You’re the Worst has been trying to say since it spat out its first sub-Chanandler Bong, pseudo-piquant epigram. It’s so good that when I first started thinking about this article, I saw it as a (fair enough, very pompous) 500 word review of that 20 seconds of music.
I can’t write that anymore.
‘I wanted to say I’m sorry’. (Or some bullshit like that).
Until recently, You’re the Worst was just FXX’s version of that relationship comedy you’ve been seeing on every other channel for a while now. It was slathered in drugs, casual alcoholism, swearing, nastiness and sex, but really it was still just another show about two narcissistic dicks from LA who supposedly had problems with committing to a relationship but still ended up in one anyway.
It promised characters that were selfish, egocentric, even nasty, but it lied to us. Its protagonists, Jimmy (Chris Geere) and Gretchen (Aya Cash), had that same desperate need to be liked, loved and redeemed that the characters of every other homogenous, formulaic scrap on TV do. Sometimes You’re the Worst was funny, like when it was describing university as ‘a place that wankers go to study poetry and fist themselves’ or scrambled eggs as ‘a dish so pedestrian its name is the recipe’. More often, though, it’d disappoint by ending an episode on something like ‘I wanted to say I’m sorry’. Basically, it was Peep Show but without the courage and sincerity.
‘I’m gonna leave you anyway. / You’re gonna walk right out that door. / I’m gonna watch you walk away.’
Its theme tune, on the other hand, never disappoints. Every one of those precious 20 seconds (of a song that’s normally 2 and a half minutes long) has an emotional honesty that the show itself shied away from.
Slothrust, a three-piece of grungy noisemakers who sound like they were born in a basement twenty years ago and have only been allowed out to buy Sonic Youth re-issues, have that loud-quiet thing you remember making you jump up and down as a kid. And they top it off with a strung out vibe that makes their singer’s repeated protestation on ‘7.30AM’ that ‘I’m going to leave you anyway’ seem forlorn, as it tries to make itself heard over the top of the sudden growl of the guitar.
Their other songs are just as good. Slothrust confront depression, anger and cynicism with humor, self-consciousness and melodies that turn my brain chemistry inside out and demand more. It might be the first ever aurally transmitted disease. ‘Crockpot’, their best song, comes at you with lyrics like ‘I like cats. / Do you like cats? / Of course you do, you sassy motherfucker’. What do you say to that? It’s like Slothrust are some old creepy person with a knife, but the knife’s for the cake you didn’t see before and it tastes really good.
I’ve no idea how to pronounce Slothrust by the way, but there are enough people in the internet trying to dazzle you with banter about that already so I guess just pronounce it however you like and go listen to their music anyway.
‘Don’t shake hands with the lonely kids ’cause I hear that shit’s contagious’
That’s another lyric from ‘Crockpot’. Until recently, it had no place anywhere near You’re the Worst, but then the show started a multi-episode arc about the depression of one of its protagonists and the kind of contempt and sarcasm underlying that line became suddenly relevant.
To be honest, the show hasn’t fixed any of its problems. Jimmy and Gretchen are still, deep-down, loveable and loving (or at least people attempting to be), but that doesn’t matter so much now that their supposed unlikeability isn’t the entire focus of the program. Instead, by looking unsparingly at how people live with depression and how it affects others around them, You’re the Worst is creating a difficult situation for characters that, although flawed in interesting ways, you can care about. It might still be lying to you, but it’s lying in a more interesting way and managing to hiss funny lines about eggs at you while it’s doing it.
Finally, it’s almost as good as its own theme tune.
You can probably find Slothrust’s music all over the internet, but at least one of those places is http://www.badabingrecords.com/store/slothrust-of-course-you-do-cdlp?rq=slothrust. You’re the Worst airs on Wednesdays at 10.30pm ET/PT.