When quarantine first began during the coronavirus pandemic this spring, the desire for escapism was top of many people's minds. It made sense; everyone was looking for a distraction from the real world, and plenty of us turned to entertainment to find it — light-hearted comedies to take our minds off the panic and confusion, intense dramas to make our own problems seem minimal, sci-fi epics to transport us to another place. But as the world begins to open back up, despite the fact that this pandemic is very much still going on, people who have been on lockdown are less interested in escaping and more inclined to re-immerse themselves in the world they've been deprived of, safety precautions be damned. Personally, I can't relate to that impulse at all. Conditions still aren't safe and leadership is lacking, which means I'm looking for motivation to continue staying inside, and I want the things I'm watching to reflect that. That's why the series I'll continue to turn to isYou're the Worst, a show that has provided me with the ultimate inspiration for finding joy while staying at home.
You're the Worst, FXX's acerbic rom-com-dram about two generally horrible people who reluctantly fall into a relationship after hooking up at a wedding, is one of my favorite shows of all time but not the show I ever expected to find solace in during our current moment. And yet the more I think about it, the more it adds up. Jimmy Shive-Overly's (Chris Geere) house is like the show's fifth character; it is to You're the Worst what New York is to Seinfeld. Sometimes I can picture the layout of Jimmy's den of chaos better than I can picture my childhood home — that's how much time the characters spent inside it over the show's five seasons, making their mark on every corner. It's a thoroughly lived-in disaster zone, perpetually littered with discarded items and always in some state of disarray.
In just about every episode, Jimmy, Gretchen (Aya Cash), Edgar (Desmin Borges), and Lindsay (Kether Donohue) find any excuse to convene together in the house, throwing baffled looks at outsiders who dare intrude on their group. Despite Jimmy's many misgivings about his home being used as the primary gathering zone ("Are you moving out?" he asks Edgar in Season 3's "Fix Me, Dummy." "Thank god, make sure you leave your mattress on the curb before you go, and spray paint 'unclean' on it"), it's the place everyone seems to land, and more importantly, the place they want to stay.
It's where Gretchen ends up after burning down her apartment with her vibrator, and where Lindsay stays when she's having yet another bout of marital trouble. It's where a fight between Jimmy and Gretchen escalates to a series of mind games that culminate in her sabotaging his at-home interview while promoting his new book. It's where the deep-seated issues at the center of Edgar and Jimmy's friendship grow and fester. An entire episode is set around Jimmy and Gretchen, recently moved in together, desperately wanting to stay home but not ready to reveal to the other that they're too tired to spend every night partying. Another centers around the characters getting trapped there when the Los Angeles marathon disrupts traffic. It's where, in the series finale, Jimmy and Gretchen finally settle down and start a family together.
In Season 2's "Born Dead," Gretchen throws a party (not a "get together") and invites her former friends who have all moved on without her to become adults with kids, careers, and responsibilities. It ends with the core four together in the living room after the festivities have concluded, drinking forlornly. "I just wanna go dancing like we used to, just one more time," Gretchen says. Lindsay quickly offers herself as a dance partner, but before any of them can stand up, Gretchen concedes, "I mean, we have booze and music, we can just dance here." The first time I saw that moment play out in lockdown, I gasped, looking around my empty room as if to ask, did anybody else hear that? Was I really being given permission to not be bummed out about being stuck at home, to be OK where I am even if it wasn't what I imagined for myself? I would take any excuse to seek out that feeling during such a stressful time, but it felt so much sweeter to hear from a favorite character.
The things that have come to dominate my time in quarantine are things everyone on this show mastered years ago. Making big, elaborate meals? Edgar's cooking scenes are some of the series' most iconic. Binge-watching TV? Never forget when Jimmy inhales every episode of NCIS: Los Angeles. At one point, Gretchen and Jimmy even bring the movies to them by stealing a DVD rental kiosk, doing in a night what film studios spent months scrambling to figure out. This show laid out a blueprint for enjoying yourself when confined to one place, and as I watch people leave their masks at home while COVID-19 cases continue to rise all over the U.S., I still find myself taking notes from the You're the Worst crew.
You're the Worst holds a fond place in my heart for a lot of reasons — the way it explored the complexities of living with clinical depression, the balance it struck between hilariously cutting and heartfelt, Aya Cash's purse acting — but it's also been teaching me something important in the age of coronavirus. The comfort (even if the characters wouldn't necessarily call it that) they get from just being with each other, from staying in the same place, have become touchstones for me over these past thousand or so weeks. They might not be the best people to emulate under normal circumstances, but for now, they're giving me exactly what I need. You're the Worst has shown me how to have fun at home, how to not get tired of seeing the same people over and over, how to feel content about being exactly where I am.
Looking for more shows to stream? Check out TV Guide's TV Throwback, recommending the best shows to rewatch — or to discover for the first time — from 1970 through the present day.