The whole ‘wanting both’ concept from “Sunday Funday” goes right out the window for Jimmy and Gretchen in the next episode: “PTSD.” It doesn’t stand for what you think, though, but we’ll get to that later. This episode goes to show just how well Jimmy and Gretchen work for each other, but not other people.
That doesn’t mean they can’t form meaningful relationships or friendships with others- if Edgar and Lindsay are any indication- but when it comes to being romantically involved, they are, as Becca once said, poison.
They are poison for each other, but that’s what makes them so damn compatible. To anyone else, it would seem strange that two very incompatible people fit so well, but to Jimmy and Gretchen, it just makes sense, even if they’d never admit it to each other. Yet.
The series began with Vernon and Becca’s marriage, yet when we rejoin them for a significant amount of time, they’re already in marriage counseling. And what is the key to a successful relationship? Communication. Despite the series beginning with their marriage, only six episodes later do we find that the two are unhappy. Not the most successful of marriages if they crumble in such a short amount of time, but I’m no expert.
In Becca’s mind, there’s no trust between the two. They’ll start off fine, but something minor will set them off. It’s clear from here that Becca is the more committed into putting work into this marriage. Vernon, however, wants to have more fun with his life and not be so rigid. During a hip resurfacing, he took off his sunglasses, placed them on the patient’s testicles, and then took a picture. He did it because humor is necessary in his profession.
At the end of the day, though, the counselor suggests that their marriage problems aren’t on them- instead, they’re because of the negative external elements that influence their relationship.
As if on cue, we cut right to the two having brunch with Jimmy and Gretchen, who are much more carefree around one another, but also more concerned with breakfast than Vernon and Becca telling them that they can’t be around one another. Jimmy just wants to be sure that breakfast is still on Vernon, while Gretchen only takes offense when Becca calls her and Jimmy a couple, when they’re just hanging out.
So the episode’s conflict kicks off from just a minor implication. Jimmy is set to interview Hollywood “IT” girl Megan Thomas and Gretchen wants photos. When Jimmy suggests nudes, Gretchen challenges him to get them. After all, as he points out, Gretchen said that they aren’t a couple, so he’s free to do whatever he likes. Now, Gretchen made this comment off the cuff, almost as a throwaway, but it stuck to Jimmy to the point that Gretchen thinks that he’s bothered by it. He isn’t, though. After all, as he says, clear rules must be established.
It’s rare that we see Jimmy do anything in relation to his profession as an author or work-related at all, so it’s a refreshing change of pace to see him actually do something instead of just walk from scene to scene. His interview with Megan Thomas, played by Ginger Gonzaga, goes well enough, but goes to an odd point when Megan wants Jimmy to feel her calf, as she’s been working out for her new role as a tsunami widow. That is apparently a thing.
So when Jimmy informs Megan of his dare from Gretchen, she quickly orders more drinks. Hey, Gretchen did say that they aren’t a couple, but Megan knows that there’s a reason for that, which we’ll get to later.
We get to spend a bit more time with Edgar this week and learn that he’s been seeing a therapist, who told him that he should be alone as little as possible because he finds himself waking up with a knife…though he quickly tosses that bit of information aside. There are a lot of hidden layers to Edgar’s character, I’m noticing, but they come out in short bursts. He’s happy for Jimmy and Gretchen to the point that he made breakfast nachos, but he becomes a disappointed best friend at the sight of Megan.
At first, Gretchen doesn’t think much of the photos of Megan since she did dare Jimmy to do it and she said she’s not his girlfriend, but Lindsay, for whatever reason, is livid, even though this has nothing to do with her. She jumps to the extreme option: Gretchen has to break up with Jimmy. I guess this is Lindsay trying to be the supportive best friend, but she really doesn’t have a reason to get involved- even more so when her plan involves spray painting pedophile on Jimmy’s garage door, like she did when her neighbors kept their Christmas lights up too long.
But Lindsay has another idea: Gretchen needs to sleep with some guy or she’ll resent Jimmy forever. That’s what feminism is all about and is exactly what Susan B. Anthony died for. Susan B. Anthony is apparently the woman who made an airplane disappear. A useful friend, this Lindsay person.
Though she’s still against the idea, Gretchen relents and visits her barista friend, Venti, played by Adam Tsekhman, but she clearly doesn’t want to be there. Venti is in the most amazing job of all time: he’s a manager at a coffee shop. Even though he’s surprised to see Gretchen, he’s hesitant to leave his post just so they can screw. He could get fired. Even still, he concedes.
Feeling triumphant, even though she knows that this entire bet shouldn’t matter, Gretchen shares the news of her fling with Jimmy, who does have a quick reaction upon hearing that Gretchen had sex with someone else. It’s very brief, but Jimmy and Gretchen have clear expressions of doubt and jealousy on their faces when the other talks about their affairs with other people. This thing can still end at any point, right?
No, because we aren’t talking about adults here. We’re dealing with children and Jimmy complicates the matter even further when he tells Gretchen that they aren’t even because he banged a Hollywood “IT” girl. All Gretchen did was screw an ex, which doesn’t count as a full person. There haven’t been any established rules in this game and Jimmy is already making this more difficult and childish than it needs to be. But hey, if Gretchen wants to think they’re even, she can go right ahead. Gretchen is smart. She knows that this entire thing is ridiculous, but she storms off anyway.
But you know what? Lindsay actually agrees with Jimmy. Megan Thomas is a Hollywood “IT” girl, while Venti is just PTD- Previously Taken Dick. Lindsay thought about this. Gretchen can’t even slob on another guy’s dick. That wouldn’t count. No. Gretchen has to rule out any Previously Taken or Sucked Dicks- hence, the title of the episode. The sooner she gets someone behind her, the sooner she can put this behind her.
So we get a montage of Lindsay and Gretchen talking to various guys, none of whom are ideal for Gretchen: one is more interested in showing off his house, another one talks about the struggle for Black actors, one is more interested in the game behind the two ladies, and there’s an overly nice guy as well. I hope this isn’t how speed dating goes, because if so, I’ll just avoid it altogether.
With no candidates suitable enough, Gretchen again wonders aloud why this even bothers here. Why do people have to feel lust and love when they have much larger priorities? These feelings should be beneath her. The bouncer, to her surprise, agrees with her.
And with that, we get Lindsay and Gretchen exploiting their catches. Lindsay hooked up with the nice guy-
-while Gretchen and the bouncer fuck, though Gretchen is more concerned with being moved so she’s not close to the booger on the wall. Gross.
Even though she wasn’t into this at all, she brags yet again to Jimmy, who now needs to even things out or tip the scales in his favor. By this point, Gretchen is exhausted and wants to call it a draw, but since she’s now up by half a point, Jimmy has a thirst to equalize things.
The problem is that Jimmy soon learns how much of an asshole he really is when he gets nothing but rejections from all of the women in his “Previous Conquests” folder.
With nowhere else to turn, he returns to the one woman he never expected to seek for advice: Becca. She’s surprised to see him, but he comes with seemingly honest intentions. He just wants to know why people hate him so much and what’s keeping him from sustaining a relationship. Becca’s explanation is quite simple: Jimmy is a narcissist who uses people to get what he wants. That reason is made very clear when Jimmy tries to kiss Becca, who rejects him outright.
The resolution? Jimmy and Gretchen bond over pinball, though Jimmy lies about his most recent conquest. The problem is that they’re just two independently existing people who get together to have sex. Neither will admit to being jealous that they spent time with another person. Then the two, with about as much sarcasm as they can muster, suggest that they be exclusive. Yeah, because that’d be a great idea.
And yet…that would be a reasonable and rational idea, wouldn’t it?
Again, Jimmy and Gretchen are perfect for each other. Anyone else, though, would be a disaster. They are the poison to each other’s poison. At this point, they are acting like a genuine couple in everything but name. They share each other’s breakfasts and talk about their days like they’ve been together for years, but the two continue to insist that this is purely casual.
You can only keep things casual for so long when you make it into this childish competition. Jimmy and Gretchen turn their interest for one another into a game and become more and more exasperated that they have to one-up each other, even though they know they don’t have to. It would be too easy and straightforward for the two to admit they like each other. However, when the two drop the sarcasm at the exclusivity suggestion, there’s a slow realization on both of their faces that seems to say “Hey, this could probably work out.”
Unlike Becca and Vernon, Jimmy and Gretchen are in constant communication with one another and open about a lot, but the one thing that draws them together is what they can’t be open about. To suggest exclusivity without any sarcasm would mean the two are finally being honest about their feelings for one another. That just can’t happen yet. Yes, Jimmy and Gretchen are two people who get together to have sex.
To go any deeper than that would mean they soon turn into Vernon and Becca: an unhappy couple. They don’t want to lose the chaos and entertainment that comes from a casual fling. In stark contrast to the ‘happily’ married couple, Jimmy and Gretchen are fine just the way they are. They’re open about what they like and what draws them to one another, but they aren’t grown-up enough to openly say something as simple as “I like you.”
Despite that, we see multiple times that the two don’t like the idea that the other is having sex with another person. They’re in denial about their feelings and not mature to have an actual conversation about it. Everything has to be layered with sarcasm and cynicism, but we can see on their faces that they’re jealous of the other one’s sexual conquests. But they keep the contest going because neither wants to admit defeat. Well, Gretchen eventually does, anyway.
And it’s because she took offense to the notion that she and Jimmy are anything but friends. They spend so much time trying to prove that they end up unhappy when they aren’t together. Gretchen is more interested in the wall than the bouncer because she knows that she is only using him. Same goes with Venti. She clearly didn’t want to talk to him, but she forced herself to be there because she let Lindsay talk her into thinking she had something to prove to Jimmy when, in fact, she didn’t.
We do have bigger problems in our lives to deal with than love and lust, but that doesn’t always mean we should try to bury those feelings. I say always because, in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with letting your feelings fester for a while, but that’s just me.
Jimmy and Gretchen are like Venus fly traps in this episode. They take advantage of people they can exploit for their benefit, but they still don’t feel anything. In fact, the ending montage isn’t the typical, sappy ones we’d expect from sitcoms. Instead, we see the people who the two took advantage of and how their lives have been affected- most for the worst.
At least Lindsay got to get her rocks off, but even she’s bored by some of the applicants. I enjoyed her in this episode, if only for the extra energy she gave Gretchen. I do have to wonder how many other people think that John Quincy Adams was the first Black astronaut, though. She’s back to being second banana, but at least she wasn’t useless.
Edgar also didn’t have to wag his finger at Jimmy the way he did earlier, but damn it if he didn’t have to go through a whole lot of trouble for nothing. He tried several avenues for talking about Jimmy messing around with a woman that wasn’t Gretchen, but got nowhere. When it seemed like he would get somewhere, his outlet would have nothing of value to offer.
Again, Edgar proves why he’s such a good friend to Jimmy and it’s true that he wants Jimmy and Gretchen to be happy, but he needs to let the two make decisions for themselves instead of occasionally offering his input.
By episode’s end, Jimmy and Gretchen are a step closer to becoming the very thing they despise. If we needed any indication about the uncertainty of their decision, it would be their facial expressions when they let the condoms fall. Before…
…and after. Even they’re not so sure if this is a good idea.