“A Right Proper Story” is a half-hour that feels slightly out of place with the past few episodes of You’re The Worst as it’s more comical (and just basically more sitcom-y) than the rest. This certainly isn’t a bad thing; the episode was just fine, and it managed to include Gretchen and Jimmy’s overall arc related to her depression while not putting it front and center. It also broke the tension a bit.
The big story in “A Right Proper Story” is that Jimmy’s parents have come to visit. In a nice bit of continuity, it turns out that Gretchen actually mailed those procrastination-killer letters even though Jimmy met his deadline because she wasn’t really paying attention to Jimmy while he was talking. (The third letter, by the way, was a donation to the Boy and Man Love Association.)
Sitcom episodes where we get to meet the parents are always some of my favorite episodes because they’re a great way for us to learn more about the characters by delving into their past and who raised them, and learning whether they are the sort who became their parents or who pushed back against them. In Jimmy’s case, we learn that he has carefully ensured that he is nothing like his family who are trashy, obnoxious, and racist; Lindsay describes them as “like, Alabama English people.” It’s an easy road to take: Taking the obnoxiously pretentious Jimmy and giving him a family that is his opposite in order to show both this pretension and the reasons why he is the way he is — or the reasons why he made himself the way he is.
It’s fun to watch Jimmy be knocked down a peg by his family who doesn’t care that he’s a published author. To his father and his sisters, he’s still just Shitty Jimmy, the kid who slipped in shit. He spends much of the episode fighting back the urge to explode at them — he lets out his frustration in small bits and pieces — until he can’t do it anymore. It’s familiar to anyone who has to spend more time with their family than they’d prefer to; it doesn’t matter if you like your family or not (and Jimmy does love his family) but sometimes it’s just too much.
What’s most impressive about “A Right Proper Story” is that even though it is mainly about Jimmy, it doesn’t forget about Gretchen’s overall depression arc. Rather, it uses her in small doses to continue to show how she’s trying and failing to find other methods for coping Last week, she attempted to pretend to be someone else to get away from her own internal struggles; this week, she’s asking Jimmy to help her try to feel something other than sadness through sex — the slapping scene in the cold open — and her desire to just simply stay in bed all day, perhaps to see if she can sleep it away. Whenever we see her on screen, she’s very unlike the Gretchen that we first met: She’s in sweatpants, she has no desire to be snarky, she completely resists joining the fun of marveling at Jimmy’s family, and Lindsay has to physically move her at times.
This does work in Lindsay’s favor though. Gretchen can’t deal with work so she sends Lindsay to help with Sam’s fashion crisis. While there, a text about divorce papers prompts Lindsay to respond with the most millennial of insults: “new phone, who dis?” This, of course, leads to a hilarious (and catchy) duet diss track with Sam in which she sings the hook.
But back to the bigger plot: Eventually Jimmy and his father go out for a drink where they have a real conversation. It’s expected (there is always a conclusion like this in a parent-visits-kid episode) but it’s still nice. Most of all, it manages to seamlessly bring in the running story. Jimmy’s father explains that his divorce was mostly due to his wife’s depression, comparing his marriage to Jimmy’s current relationship. He doesn’t want Gretchen to become a dark cloud circling Jimmy all the time — he suggests that maybe it’s time to get out before it gets worse. This is compounded by Jimmy trying to talk to Gretchen about his family but her being unable to commit to the conversation (and him believing that she’s choosing not to).
The episode ends with a bit of a devastating cliffhanger of sorts, similar to the multiple episodes that ended with Gretchen sneaking away or crying. But this time it’s Jimmy’s time: He runs into Nina who is so much more eager to listen to him than Gretchen is. Jimmy’s been trying to decide if he should stay or go; this new woman might help speed up his decision.