“The big deal is that you cannot like two things which are diametrically opposed.”
“Huh, and yet I do.”
When I was younger, I would not accept that someone could like both John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Despite working together in the same group for a period of years, I had built up in my mind that liking both Lennon and McCartney, or having no preference at all, meant that you had a fundamental disregard for the rules of cultural taste. Lennon was serious, experimental, and dark; McCartney was bubbly, safe, and fun. If you liked both, it meant that you were effectively Switzerland, someone who would prefer to sit on the sidelines instead of fighting for what you believe in. It meant that you were a cop-out. It offended the very core of my being.
Obviously, this is bullshit. Obviously, this is an example of a narrow-minded, petty attitude that only serves to spread unfounded superiority to those arbitrarily deemed lesser. Obviously, I was wrong. My point is that I completely understand Jimmy’s frustration with Gretchen’s refusal to choose between Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins. To Jimmy, this is an affront to his worldview, an attack against everything he knows to be true. So Jimmy spends most of “Sunday Funday” trying to get Gretchen to choose between Gabriel and Collins, between pancakes and eggs, between Sean Connery and Roger Moore, all to no avail. It’s not that she’s purposely trying to provoke Jimmy, it’s because she honestly doesn’t believe that choosing one over the other defines you as a person, and if she does choose, it will open herself up to Jimmy’s unfair judgment. Jimmy feels otherwise, but it’s only because he knows that she’s going to eventually choose between staying with him in L.A. and boarding a private plane to attend the Tribeca Film Festival with Ty, the douchebag director Gretchen occasionally sleeps with.
Gretchen isn’t exactly itching to go to Tribeca with Ty because she sees something resembling a future with Jimmy, but that very thought naturally scares her. Gretchen enjoys the comfort of her relationship with Jimmy mostly because there aren’t any stakes. They hang out, they have sex, and they hang out some more. It’s low-key and fun, but it’s also without any risk. Falk has done a good job depicting Gretchen’s decision neither positively nor negatively; it’s just her choice. However, Falk also understands that outside forces often demand a decision that might permanently affect a comfortable status quo.
The tension at the heart of “Sunday Funday” thankfully isn’t whether Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship will fall apart if Gretchen goes with Ty to New York. Falk doesn’t pretend that it’s such a major infraction that it will stop those two from sleeping with each other, nor is he interested in goosing the drama for an episode, but he also doesn’t pretend that Gretchen’s choice has no weight whatsoever. Instead, the episode’s tension is whether Gretchen and Jimmy will take a small step towards decisiveness. Gretchen wants Jimmy to tell her that he wants her to stay, and Jimmy wants Gretchen to ask him whether he wants her to stay. It requires a bit of effort from both parties, and it ultimately requires making a choice.
The best part of “Sunday Funday” is the way Falk and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts convey this simmering tension: By building it around an episode about getting drunk and meandering around all day. Jimmy decides to participate in the gang’s weekly tradition of near-constant drinking and fun activities (spearheaded by Edgar), so our four heroes, finally together in one episode, spend the day drunkenly going record shopping, getting massages, and visiting a petting zoo. “Sunday Funday” demonstrates that You’re The Worst has finally got a good handle on its low-key storytelling. By providing a little bit of forward momentum, it gives just enough boost to keep the plot afloat without plugging in contrived drama.
But in the midst of the tomfoolery, there are brief moments of connection or desperation that have become somewhat of a hallmark for this series. After their opening brunch, Lindsay pulls Jimmy aside and tells him that he makes Gretchen happy, and Jimmy recognizes that counts for something whether he likes it or not. Gretchen practically throws Jimmy in the shower at an open house just so she gets a chance to flirt with Ty on the phone. Lindsay all but comes out and says that she’s trapped in an unhappy marriage. It’s the sort of honesty that naturally comes out after spending a day drinking and doing nothing with a group.
“Sunday Funday” only falters when it deviates from either its rambling course or its emotional core. Edgar’s rivalry with a group of hipsters, led by Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch, is a bit of a dud unless you find the mere sight of hipsters to be hilarious. Falk plants an interesting seed about Edgar needing control over something as little as a fun-filled day because everything else in his life is so chaotic, but it never really takes the steps necessary to follow that idea to its conclusion. Instead, Falk chooses to focus on Edgar getting back at Middleditch’s character for stealing his list of activities, which ends as predictably as you expect.
Meanwhile, Lindsay gets an interesting, albeit undercooked story that ultimately reveals how much she actually likes her wealthy yuppie environment. When Lindsay bails on the day to go to Paul’s barbecue, Gretchen goes there and discovers that she’s actually having a great time. It turns out that Lindsay is the cool one amongst her group and she enjoys the break from playing second fiddle to Gretchen all the time. However, she still dreaded going because she can’t stand the sight or the voice of Paul, her ineffectual husband. It’s not clear that there’s anything exactly objectionable about Paul’s behavior—maybe asking Lindsay to shave his butthole is a bit trying—but it’s clear that Lindsay is caught in something uncomfortable. It’s a really good start to something, but the plot ultimately gets the short shrift, mostly because it’s packed in with everything else that’s going on. But if the last shot of Lindsay screaming and running away from the sight of Paul holding a child is any indication, the story will certainly get more play down the road.
“Sunday Funday” ends remarkably well with Jimmy accepting that people are more complex than their music tastes. Jimmy travels to Paul and Lindsay’s barbecue and gives a borderline incoherent speech about the various merits of both Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, which communicates to Gretchen that he genuinely doesn’t want to force her into a box just to make him comfortable. Gretchen asks Jimmy if he wants her to stay in L.A. Jimmy says he does. They leave the party in temporary peace, but not before stealing a bottle of booze on their way out. For once, their ending doesn’t feel abrupt. It just feels right.
- My favorite location the gang goes to on their Sunday Funday is the Eazy-E memorial. Lindsay pours one out from her 40.
- Despite not liking the plot all that much, I did love that whenever the hipster gang shows up, the episode immediately shifts into a tense action film, complete with tight close-ups and the quick cutting.
- Two things that brought me a lot of joy: Edgar hugging a goat and Lindsay squealing, “Oh, look! A baby record!”
- You can not have a job and still hate Mondays, like Garfield.
- There’s always one moment in each episode where I completely sympathize with Jimmy’s bitterness. This time it was his disgust at the gang’s dumb Sunday Funday song. A Bloody Mary and a triple whiskey neat may not be enough.
- “I’m from L.A. Fun hipster shit is just poor Latino shit from ten years ago.”
- “Daniel Craig?! He looks like an upset baby.”
- “Phil Collins, he has his merits, alright, as lightweight and nutritional as they are. I mean really, “Land of Confusion”? With its leaden pleas for world peace and the healing power of love? Thank you George Bernard Shaw, give me a fortnight to machete my way through the dense metaphoric thicket of those lyrics.”
- I choose “Solsbury Hill”: