Producer and screenwriter Stephen Falk knows his way around unconventional television. While he’s also a member of the GeekNation family with his very own Film Pigs show – you can find that here – he is also a well decorated writer and showrunner. He received a WGA award nomination in 2012 for his excellent work on Showtime’s Weeds, as well as one in 2015 for his work on Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black. Both shows that are known for their outside the box approach to storytelling. It’s not surprising to know that Falk is also the creator and showrunner of You’re The Worst, the dark, dysfunctional romantic comedy currently airing on FXX. It’s also no surprise to learn that Falk was recently named one of THR’s Most Powerful Showrunners Of 2015. He is currently developing two new projects for the FXX network, and seems to be their go to guy for new and interesting content.
In honor of the season, the series just aired its first ever Halloween episode, entitled ‘Spooky Sunday Funday.’ This time, Sunday Funday involved dressing up in costumes, a wickedly scary haunted house, a Silence Of The Lambs parody and clinical depression. One of the best things about the show is that it doesn’t shy away from serious issues. Already the series has showcased PTSD, infidelity, divorce and depression. And I swear, it’s a comedy. A very hilarious one, at that.
Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Stephen about his current show, his inspiration, the characters and what we can expect for the rest of season two. Here’s what he had to say:
First of all, let me just say that I love the show and these characters, in all of their messed up glory. What was your inspiration for the series? How do you pitch a romantic comedy where the two leads have a tendency to be self-involved and destructive? At what point does the network get what you’re trying to do?
Stephen Falk: FX pretty much got what I wanted to do from the moment I pitched it. The way I laid it out was sort of as a boozey, British-y, cable-y version of Mad About You. The inspiration really came from a few places: one, being a fan of romantic comedies, two being a fan of British sitcoms where the characters got to be more flawed than in American sitcoms, three, my own disastrous re-entry into the dating world after getting divorced, and four, my desire to artistically cleanse my palette after a bad experience creating a network show. The self-involved/destructive part of the characters were inherent in the pitch and I was lucky enough to find a network that doesn’t shy away from flawed characters, nay if you look at FX’s slate of programming it is pretty much a requirement for them.
Normally when we’re talking about romantic comedy, the leads are usually likeable people who are trying really hard to make it work. This is definitely not the case with Jimmy and Gretchen and yet, somehow we’re still rooting for them. What is it about them that makes us want them to succeed?
Stephen Falk: I think there’s a fallacy to assign “good“ or “likeable” to a character. Therefore I would argue with the premise of the question – I don’t think Jimmy or Gretchen are bad or unlikeable, and because they are flawed and yes, exhibit in concentrated form a lot of the bad traits we all have, I think it is the fact that they are three dimensional and human (if a little over the top in their narcissism) that is exactly why people relate to them and root for them to get past their shit and find love. Indeed if you watch the show closely, in the second season particularly, you’ll come to the conclusion that they are trying as hard as any other romantic comedy couple to make it work, they just have a lot of baggage to get past.
Over the course of the first season, there was a surprising amount of growth for each of the characters. Was that something that was planned from the beginning, or did it come naturally through each of their story arcs? Did everyone end up where you thought they would when this all started?
Stephen Falk: Yes, all the story and character development was carefully plotted out by me and my writing staff. Certainly you discover things along the way, but I always knew I wanted the characters to progress and grow. I’m a firm believer in story and having things happen, thus there’s always going to be movement from episode to episode in our show.
Now, I’ve got to admit, that while I love Jimmy and Gretchen, I absolutely adore Edgar and Lindsay. One of the funniest bits was when they realized they were actually the side-kicks in the story. What sort of part will they be playing moving forward? What about other characters, like Becca and Vernon or Paul, who I hear has big things on the horizon in the form of his online love?
Stephen Falk: I never wanted any of my side characters to feel like side characters, thus we work really hard to flesh out their stories and continue to dimensionalize everyone that appears in our show. In season two, Edgar finds a hobby and tries to move away from just being known as a veteran, and Lindsay for her part is forced to contend with having been left by the man she always thought she would end up leaving, so her ego, not to mention her bank account, is bruised. Becca, Vernon and Paul are on their own twisted journeys this season as well, and we’ll get to see new sides to all of them.
A lot of big, life-changing things happened in the season one finale. Now that the second season has started, it looks like things aren’t going quite as everyone hoped. What can we expect for the rest of season two? Are there any big surprises looming?
Stephen Falk: As of this moment, having aired episode 6, we get the hint that something deeper is going on with Gretchen but don’t quite know what it is (although online communities have hazarded many guesses). So really in the second half of the season we’ll see things take a much more dramatic turn and we’ll also get another Sunday Funday in the form of a Halloween episode, we’ll do a very challenging bottle episode where we don’t leave the house, and we’ll meet Jimmy’s family, among other surprises.
Seriously, if you haven’t checked out You’re The Worst, I highly recommend it. It’s full of quirky, charming characters, all looking to find their place in today’s world, and realizing that just maybe they can’t do it alone. The show is a smart and funny look at the in’s and out’s of relationships, and doesn’t pretend to be something that it’s not. Much like the two main characters. TV has a tendency to sanitize relationships, making it look like sunshine and rainbows all the time. This show throws that idea out the window, as Jimmy and Gretchen try to balance everything that life throws at them, in an honest, and sometimes unpleasant way. (Cause let’s face it, sometimes, it ain’t pretty!) It’s a refreshing and oh so, fantastic take on the world of relationships and possibly what not to do in certain situations. A cautionary tale? Perhaps, but one you can’t help but fall in love with.
Besides, how can you not love a show whose season 2 promos feature a dirty spin on an iconic Spider-Man moment?
You’re The Worst airs on Wednesday nights on FXX.
Make sure to check back for updates – right here on Geek Nation.
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