Deadshirt Is Watching…is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt staff, contributors, and guests sound off on the television shows we’re tuned into, from intense dramas to clever sitcoms to the most insane reality shows. This week: You’re the Worst and the first Presidential debate!
Chuck Winters is Watching…
You’re the Worst
Season 3, Episode 4, “Men Get Strong”
Wednesdays at 10/9c on FXX
Last week’s episode was about the metaphor: the way we assign values to things that are too complex to be described as simply “sad” or “happy” or “perfect.” It’s what Jimmy—who insists he feels nothing about his father’s death—is struggling with as he writes his erotic novel: The perfect metaphor to describe his female lead’s sexy ass. He can’t come up with it, though. He’s blocked.
It’s a metaphor, we should believe; he insists he feels nothing for his father, but in reality, he’s blocked because he’s holding back his feelings. We’re set up to think this way through Gretchen’s ambush appointment with Justina. (Is there any other kind with Gretchen as a patient?) Justina coolly warns her that it’s only a matter of time before his father’s death hits Jimmy, and when it does, she’s going to need to be there for him. Gretchen being Gretchen, she doesn’t want this coming up during her precious Famous Pets of Instagram Cruise, so she wants to “pop the pimple” and get Jimmy through the grieving process so they can all move on.
In typical fashion, though, every attempt Gretchen makes to push those repressed emotions out of Jimmy backfires horribly. Gretchen takes Jimmy to a funeral; they get distracted by how hot everyone there is and end up fucking in a crypt. (“Make sure to pull out!…Your dad might be looking for a body to reincarnate!”) They go to a craft store to observe fathers and sons spending quality time together and luck into a dad walking out on his kid. In a stunning reversal, though, it’s the kid who’s abusive; what they saw was the dad losing his last nerve. All the activity seems to be slowly stirring something within Jimmy, though, and by the time Gretchen starts belittling Jimmy as Ronnie Overly, at the kind of old school British-style pub he would have frequented, a strange, powerful feeling does indeed well up within Jimmy.
But then he passes gas and moves on. Never let anyone tell you that fart jokes are solely the domain of crass comedy, folks.
Meanwhile, the death of Jimmy’s father leads Lindsey to the realization that she wants her child to miss her when she’s gone, so she signs up for a parenting class—the same one her sister’s in, of course—and takes every lesson to heart, acing every test, getting a toy giraffe as a prize. Lindsey’s problems as an expecting mother run deeper than being able to change diapers or administer CPR, though: She’s going to have a child that reminds her of a man she does not love, no matter how much she claims to, no matter how hard she tries. She gravitates to another parent at the class who seems to be trapped in a loveless marriage, but when she tries to make a move, he fiercely rejects her. She runs out, embarrassed, dropping the toy giraffe behind her like a lead slipper.
Lindsey doesn’t understand love, just like Gretchen doesn’t understand grief. When confronting emotions we don’t understand, we use simple ideas like attending funerals or learning CPR to figure them out. But sometimes emotions are too complex for such simple ideas. Lindsey will come no closer to understanding love by learning to change a diaper than Gretchen will come to understand grief by making Jimmy “get it all out.”
But all that is more of a problem for Lindsey, forcing herself to stay with a man who has a far different view of love, than it is for Gretchen, who’s with a man who is emotionally stunted in his own right. As Justina warned Gretchen, only Jimmy can decide when his father’s death will hit him. But, regardless of his differing reasons (Gretchen doesn’t feel equipped to handle the grief of others, Jimmy doesn’t want to feel like his father holds any sway over his emotions), Jimmy is just as desperate as Gretchen is for assurance that his father’s death means nothing to him. At the end of the night, he takes one final test, inhaling his dad’s old soccer jacket, and discovers the feeling he and Gretchen have been chasing all day. And he assures Gretchen that the feeling is happiness, and now that he’s confronted it, he finally has the perfect metaphor to describe his female lead’s bottom.
Most importantly, he can stuff all of Ronnie Overly’s things into a drawer and shut it up tight.
And because no metaphor can be too perfect, when Jimmy and Gretchen leave, that drawer pops itself open, just a little bit.
Episode Highlight: Not everything needs a metaphor. I’m giving the game ball to Desmond Borges, who conveys the absolute depths that Edgar has sunk to in one quick shot of him chugging whiskey. It’s well-worn shorthand for “approaching rock bottom,” but the casual nature of the scene took me by surprise and broke my heart.
Joe Stando is watching…
The First 2016 U.S. Presidential Debate
Tuesday, September 26th at 9/8c, Many, many networks and streaming providers
I’d like to start by saying that I’m not looking to write a political op-ed here, at least not specifically. I loathe Trump and his ilk, but plenty of people have written already about the dangers he represents. Deadshirt is an entertainment review site, so I’m interested first and foremost in the debate as primetime television. There was a new Regular Show on Monday, as well as a WWE installment. How did listening to the next President of the United States stack up, comparatively?
Extremely well, it turns out. I’d scoffed earlier about watching the debate, since for some time, and especially in this campaign, we’ve lived in a post-facts world. Nearly everyone has already decided who to vote for, and nothing is going to dissuade anyone at this late stage. The answer, like most things in the 21st century, is that we watch to be shocked, angered, and amused. The media landscape is built around memes and soundbites, which these two candidates are more than willing to provide. To quote Gladiator, “are you not entertained?!?”
The debate between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump at Hofstra University was in no way surprising. Trump spouted catchphrases and often completely untrue rhetoric in barely comprehensible bursts, and Clinton calmly smirked as she dismantled his claims and tried to nail him to many and sundry scandals and gaffes. It was compelling enough, as each candidate leaned into their established personas and provided ample material for their respective supporters to quote. Deadshirt editor Dylan Roth described the debate as “a 90 minute promo for a wrestling match we’ll never see,” and I think that’s pretty accurate. Since everyone’s essentially watching to confirm their established choices, why not give them something fun to chew on at the water cooler the next day?
This probably reads a bit more cynically than I mean to. Honestly, I do think there’s merit to the debates on a fundamental level, in that the future President of the United States should be able to explain and defend his or her positions. But since we’re so far away from a measured, reasonable discussion of ideas, it’s hard not to feel snarky. It’s not even Clinton or Trump’s fault; the rise of cable news and the internet have accelerated the “politics as sweeps week” course we’ve been on since Nixon/Kennedy. If there’s nothing left to gain from the debates except viral videos to crow over, at least Monday’s engagement gave us a hell of a lot to retweet.
Episode Highlight: There’s honestly so much to choose from. Clinton had plenty of solid zingers, even if they felt canned at times. Her decision to end by directly confronting Trump’s pattern of misogyny was strong, and seemed to take the wind out of his sales. But Trump is a veteran television performer, and from a sheer insanity perspective, he didn’t disappoint. His aggressive defense of the unconstitutional “Stop and Frisk” policy was beyond the pale, but the most fun part had to be his incoherent babbling about the threat of “cyber.” He’s a lunatic and a pig, but I can’t deny that he knows how to keep me watching.