Reviews | How TV Shows Make Us Feel Like Their Characters Are Our Friends

“Friends are friends because they have known each other for a long time. No one ever says, ‘You are my best friend.’ Guys don’t do that. Friends follow you like bad credit, and that’s how it is,” said “The League” co-creator Jeff Schaffer with his wife, Jackie Schaffer. “These guys have known each other for a long time, so that’s fair. And you’re invited into this world, but there’s no explanation, because friends who’ve known each other for 15 years don’t sit around talking about how they’ve known each other for 15 years. They talk about “I remember when you got your hand stuck in the toilet in second grade”. ”

But older friendships work in different ways on “You’re the Worst,” a show that’s far more comfortable with raw emotion than “The League.” In season two of “You’re the Worst,” Gretchen (Aya Cash) and her best friend, Lindsay (Kether Donohue), find themselves on separate tracks after Gretchen moves in with her boyfriend Jimmy (Chris Geere) shortly after. long after Lindsay is publicly and humiliatingly dumped by her husband, Paul (Allan McLeod).

“You also see them being really tough on each other and demanding of each other like good friendships can be,” Cash told me. “I feel like they’re old friends, and old friendships are very different from new friendships. We allow ourselves to be completely ourselves, because we’ve known each other for a very long time and we’re very close, so even when our paths diverge and we’re in different places in our lives or have different experiences, the core friendship there is so, so strong, and we can be very honest with each other .

The bond between Jimmy and his roommate Edgar (Desmin Borges) shares some of the same dynamic as the rocky friendships on “The League.” While day-to-day Jimmy tends to respond to Edgar’s kind gestures with sarcasm, and the two have deadly and funny fights, “You’re the Worst” has long been comfortable showing feelings. the most tender characters for everyone. other. In season one, Jimmy dropped his facade to help Edgar get the sleeping pills he needed from the Department of Veterans Affairs. And this year, as Edgar tries to define himself behind his military service by trying his hand at improv comedy, the couple are getting closer to their new hobby.

“I think Jimmy and Edgar have always had a very passive-aggressive love for each other, and that’s more evident this year,” Geere told me. “Edgar has something new this year, and Jimmy is becoming a big fan of it by accident, and I think that means the world to Edgar. So Jimmy goes and attends improv, with his heckling list, on point to take them down, and suddenly he finds himself really liking him. He’s a goofball. He pretends to be that tough intellect that won’t take bullshit, but yeah, the truth is he’s a kid , he’s a kid who just wants to do stupid things And yeah I think no matter how he treats or talks to Edgar, ultimately if he had a problem, Edgar is where he would go .

Jimmy’s tendency to list insults above everything from weddings to author readings at his local bookstore, or his reluctance to share his cigarettes, are the kind of long-running joke that makes comedies about friends work. relatives. “You’re the Worst” established this habit of Jimmy early in his run. And laying the groundwork for those traits and jokes can begin even before the first episode.

“What we have is a long list of funny things that could have happened to them in the past that we can bring up at any time,” explained Jeff Schaffer. “And we did that when we first launched the series; we sat down and gave them some personal ammo on top of each other,” added Jackie Schaffer. Some of those old stories or tics, like how Andre (Paul Scheer) rode a girl’s bike to her high school graduation, come back into the conversation. Others, like Rafi’s (Jason Mantzoukas) habit of drinking from the other character’s glasses, are part of the series’ background buzz. “It’s not part of the story. We don’t say it out loud. It’s not something we talk about,” Jackie Schaffer explained of this particular running gag. “It’s just something that as he walks into this scene, in life, it’s one of the things he does that drives people crazy.”

And the Schaffers keep a meticulous list of things that happened on the show that can be potential jokes, from a riff about the surprisingly thrilling effects of fear to a hilariously offensive term for a streak of bad luck. “Every time you write new stories, it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s a fun thing. Let’s go back and look at that,'” Jeff Schaffer said.

Even though the people on screen in shows like “The League” and “You’re the Worst” are fictional, practices like these make our relationships with them feel real. We were there when Jimmy and Gretchen met, when the League pranks started. And whether they’re new to us, like with “You’re the Worst,” or long-standing parts of our lives, like with “The League,” we want to keep seeing these people week after week.

About Andrew Miller

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